Very often, we think of exercise as off-setting the poor choices we make dietarily. A new study has revealed that we can’t outrun the long-term effects of a bad diet, nor can we out-eat a lack of exercise. It turns out that they really do go hand in hand.
We’ve all been there before. We’ve made changes to our exercise regime only to experience too few changes physically. Or we’ve changed what and how much we put on our plates only to stare at the same number on the scale day after day and week after week. While several studies have suggested that strenuous exercise can keep us trim no matter what we eat, researchers have found that this is the case only in the short term. According to a decade-long study involving nearly 350,000 participants published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine last week, it’s the combination of healthy food and exercise together that sponsors more longevity. Unsurprisingly, those participants who exercised rigorously in addition to eating a healthy diet had a lower mortality rate, but even 10 minutes of movement made a difference in people’s outcomes.
Take the easy way out
While many of us sign up for gyms, classes or exercise apps that go unused (I’m totally guilty of this), it can be the littlest things that make the difference, most likely because we are bound to stick with smaller changes. Getting to the gym for an hour each morning is great, but starting small is what it’s all about. Even if we don’t get to the 10,000 steps every day, here are a few things we can do to jumpstart our exercise routine.
Take the stairs. Just a few flights of steps each day can be beneficial. Instead of exercising our index finger by pushing the elevator button, taking the stairs is a quick and productive way to get our 10 minutes of movement each day.
Swing those arms. Embarrassing as it might be, swinging our arms in any configuration not only burns more calories, but increases muscle as well.
Break up your posture. We spend the majority of our time hunched over a steering wheel, desk or cell phone. Altering our posture any way we can will help our physical stature. Standing desks are great options to break up the monotony, as are bouncy balls that double as chairs.
Trampolines aren’t just for kids anymore. Jumping is great exercise and can be done while listening to an audio book, watching TV or yelling at your kids to do their homework (thank you, summer vacation). They come in the tiniest sizes which might just fit nicely in the corner. Draw your shades to avoid the jealous stares.
Walk and talk. We’re all about productivity these days, which might be what keeps us from checking exercise off our to-do list. Suggest a walking meeting with a colleague or stroll around the yard, office or cubicles between meetings or tasks.
Passive, not aggressive. Passive exercises are those that aren’t strenuous, but that aid our mobility. We lose it if we don’t use it. We can retain our mobility simply by stretching or reaching our arms to their full extent or by rotating our shoulders in a circle a few times. We can do the same with our necks and lower extremities as well.
Walk-thru. If we’ve really had a sedentary day, there’s no reason to make it even more so by going to a restaurant drive-thru or ordering delivery. Sunlight and fresh air help increase our energy and elevate our mood, so walk into the restaurant or pick up takeout instead of driving through or ordering delivery. If it’s the small things that count, these might seem infinitesimal, but they’re better than nothing.
(Don’t) Resist. Strength training or resistance training can mean lifting anything from free weights to soup cans or our own bodyweight. Slow, smooth arm lifts to the extent of our capability can not only help us move, but can release anxiety. In this crazy world, any method of stress release or anxiety relief is a good thing.
This whipped treat is a great appetizer for summer fêtes. Place in a weighty serving tray and lift a few times before placing on the table to aid muscular strength.
Whipped feta yogurt dip
1 block feta (sheep’s milk works best)
1 to 2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup plain yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients together in food processor and blend until smooth.
Drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle with herbs de Provence, fresh or dried basil or oregano.
Serve with veggies.