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How to be active when you have no time

How fast can a day go when you have to fit in 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity? 

Apparently too fast for most of us. Only 15 per cent of Canadians achieve the recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week.

But there’s good news: You don’t have to set aside blocks of time for activity. Just add a little here and there during your daily routines. It’s easier than you think. And 10 minutes is enough to get real cardiovascular benefits.

The key is active transport — using your own power, whether walking, rollerblading or cycling to get where you need to go. For me, active transport delivers these spin-off benefits, besides the fitness  boost:

Alertness: An active break gives me time away from my computer to organize thoughts without being distracted by email and the internet.

Time management: Fitting in a walk or ride to my destination makes me pay more attention to my schedule.

Savings: City driving is inefficient and wastes gas! Save cash with the “heel-toe express.”

A rule I use is if the trip is less than 1.5 km, I walk. If the trip is more than 1.5 km, but less than 3.0 km, I bike or rollerblade. Anything over 3 km I plan.

Easy ways to build activity into your day

Going for groceries: When you need just a few things, try to aim for a convenience store or local grocer. The trip is relatively short but you are limited with how much you can carry so it keeps you on budget. An added bonus if you’re picking up snacks: you balance your treat with some activity.

Heading to the gym: If you belong to a gym or club and drive to and from, try replacing one trip a week with a bike ride. Invest in a backpack and hit the road. Doing your aerobic training en route allows you time to work on flexibility and resistance training while you’re there.

At the office: If you work in a building with multiple floors, reduce your elevator time or eliminate it all together. If you are more than 10 floors up, try getting off the elevator early. Build yourself up to 10 floors a day in the morning and afternoon.

In transit: If you need to drive, save the headache of searching for the closest parking spot and park at the furthest entrance from your destination. Get off the bus or subway a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way.

When you need a break: Being in front of a screen at work or home can be mind numbing. Instead of browing the channels or internet for a break, get up and walk around. This helps loosen stiff muscles and joints increases blood flow – which can ease headaches and give your eyes a rest.

The neighbourhood factor

Cycling or walking is a lot easier if your community offers safe and appealing roads and trails to destinations. Not everyone lives in a neighbourhood conducive to active transport, so you may need to find other activities to try. Share what works for you in the comments below.

Once you begin to add a few minutes of activity to your day here and there, soon you’ll find regular physical activity has become a habit. Before starting any physical activity routine, please check with your healthcare provider first.





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