Small changes, BIG results

Small changes, BIG results

It is a common assumption that you have to make big changes to get big results. The good news  is that you don’t.  It is now acknowledged that actually the smallest changes that you make to your lifestyle are the ones which can make the biggest difference.

Form new habits with babysteps

Introducing little changes into your life is effective because they can quickly become habits. Habits are automatic and therefore require less effort to perform. In today’s busy world setting small achievable goal is more realistic than huge looming  ambitions.  Reaching mini-milestones will also result in frequent feelings of success and self-confidence. Feeling good about what you are doing is the  best way to keep the momentum of new habits going.

This ‘small efforts, big changes’ regime is catching on. Celeb fitness expert Steve Halsall stated: "Giving yourself small changes and small goals over a long period of time will bring better results." He previously teamed up with Cancer Research UK to promote how making just 5 small changes to your everyday routine e.g. daily stretching and eating one more piece of fruit, can make drastic differences. As people work longer hours to beat the economic downturn they have less time for lengthy workouts so it’s important to remember that you don’t have to spend hours to get health benefits.

Every 10 minute counts!

Remember that all activity counts. And the good news is that you don’t have to dedicate huge chunks of time to reap the rewards. The government recommends 50 minutes of exercise per weekand this can be divided up how you like.

Activity doesn’t have to be a proper workout either; the aim is simply to raise your heart rate. Walking up a hill and vacuuming are all beneficial activities. Aim for 20 – 30 minutes each day and break this down into 3 x 10 minute chunks if it’s easier.

Remember, someone who struggles to find 30 minute chunks of time and therefore decides to be inactive puts themselves at more risk of heart disease than someone who does 3 x 10 minutes of brisk walking a week.

High intensity workouts

If you still don’t think you can squeeze 150 minutes a week into your lifestyle, there still may be hope. There is increasing evidence  that short but intense workouts are just as effective as longer workouts. The 2009 study in the Journal of Applied Physiologyfound that HIT (High Intensity Training)  gives a wealth of benefits, including improved aerobic and anaerobic capacity (stamina and strength) and reduced blood sugar levels.

In fact, according to a study published in Clinical Science, just 2 minutes 30 seconds each day could be more beneficial for you than longer training sessions. It found that when performed before eating a high-fat meal short bursts of activity could be better at protecting you against cardiovascular disease by speeding up the body’s ability to get rid of fat in the blood. This helps you lose weight much faster. 

HIT is catching on. A high intensity workout called Tabatais designed to get you fit with the least training possible.  Just 4 minutes will get you more fitness gains than 60 minutes of traditional cardio, it claims.  Performing eight x 20 second bursts of very hard exercise with 10 second rests between was discovered to ‘be one of the best possible training protocols’.  You can even now download apps to time your intervals.

Sneaky steps

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to do ‘proper’ exercise to increase your activity levels.  Just by changing the way you do routine things you can easily add activity into your lifestyle so you hardly even notice. Try to:

·         Use the stairs whenever you can.

·         Use the upstairs loo rather than the downstairs one

·         Go to bed earlier.

·         Sit less, stand more. Being on your feet will double your metabolism, so whether you are filing papers at work or waiting for a train, choose to stand up.  Aim to be standing for 10 minutes in every hour and you could soon add 6 or 7 hours ‘standing hours’ a week. New research on ‘inactivity physiology’ (what happens when we’re just ‘sitting there’) shows that the more you sit, the higher your risk of type 2 diabetes, weight gain and heart disease, even if you get your recommended 150 minutes a week in.

·         Ditch the car when you can. Cars make our lives so easy and save time but swapping walking for wheels just a couple of times a week will make a big difference over a year. Walking burns between  200 and 400 calories an hour depending on your weight. You will not only lose fat, you will exercise your heart and lungs. It’s better for you, better for the environment and better for your pocket. Consider introducing a rule that if your destination is within a mile – you walk.

·         Do housework to a timer and consider it workout. Use a small attachment when you vacuum and put your heart into cleaning windows and you will soon be working up a sweat!

So the thing to remember is that you don’t have to dedicate lots of time to make your lifestyle more active. Just introduce a few small changes at time and you will reap BIG rewards over the years.

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