The BBC Horizon Programme, The Truth about Exercise describes how a few relatively short bursts of intense exercise, amounting to only a few minutes a week, can deliver many of the health and fitness benefits of hours of conventional exercise, according to new research. This is brilliant news to me because since the birth of my second child, the mere thought of fitting in a full exercise regime breaks me out into a hot sweat and I haven’t even left the office chair. How do I find the time between work, childcare and a home to look after? Yet I don’t feel confident in putting these research findings into practice.
So I’ve asked myself, before people invented the gym, aerobics, fitness DVDs, marathons etc. how did people lose weight and keep fit? Well, physical activity was inbuilt into their lives, not something extra to be scheduled into an already ridiculously busy day! I have decided that this is the way forward for me. So, whilst I was on my second maternity leave, I put my baby into a pushchair and started to walk my daughter to and from school. Every day, I walked a little faster with my daughter riding on a buggy board at the back of the pushchair when she couldn’t keep up. I started taking the stairs instead of the lift, I walked up escalators instead of riding them and walked to the tube station instead of parking the car at the station. When I had spare time in the evenings, I did sit ups, stretches and stomach exercises! Late night retail therapy involving walking around the shops for 2 hours weighed down by multiple purchases is my favourite. I walk fast enough to get slightly out of breath and it means I can get to more shops in the allotted time.
Holidays are a great time for exercise because without the domestic chores to worry about (unless you go self catering) there is more time and I use it to swim between 30-40 lengths a day whilst hubby looks after the kids. It might seem like a waste of valuable holiday time but I can’t think of many greater pleasures than to be somewhere hot and sunny, in beautiful surroundings and swimming in an outdoor pool!
Have any of my efforts made a difference? Slowly but surely (like Transport for London on a good day), my walking has got faster. I get less out of breath having walked up the escalator or climbing the stairs. My body has started to regain its shape and become more toned! What’s more, I enjoy the exercise I do, I don’t get stressed about it and I have been able to maintain my efforts! The best bit is there’s no monthly subscription or smelly changing rooms involved!
I don’t know whether 3 minutes of intense exercise per week is the key to fitness but what I do know is that every little helps!