How to move more without going to the gym
Get active, feel great, and be in with a chance of winning our bundle of health prizes this April.
Spring is in the air, so we’re asking you to get a spring in your step for #ActiveApril – our month-long campaign to move however you want, for 30 minutes every day for 30 days.
The benefits of moving
Sport England found that one in four people do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week. Yet, research shows that adding exercise to your daily routine can reduce your risk of major illnesses.
Aside from its physical health benefits, exercise also increases your level of endorphins, which impact your mood.
Exercise can reduce the risk of :
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Cancer by 50%
- Early death by up to 30%
Physical exercise can be anything from walking or gardening – and doing more of what you love can have just as many benefits as a gym workout.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend hours in the gym every day to see the benefits. To help you out, we’ve put together some ways to help you move more.
5 ways to move more without going to the gym
1. Walk where possible
Whether you are working from home, the office, or a café, make it your mission to go for a walk before you hunker down for the morning.
GOV.UK says that just ten minutes of brisk walking a day is an easy way for adults to introduce more moderate-intensity physical activity into their day and reduce their risk of early death by up to 15% .
Try walking around the block or stopping at a park before the day kicks in. If you usually get somewhere and take the lift, switch it up and walk up the stairs. It’s a simple yet effective way to increase your heart rate and daily step count.
If you can swap your usual method of transport for walking, you may be able to make some cost savings too.
2. Step up, stand up
British people spend 8.9 hours of their day sitting down . Many jobs, especially office-based roles, involve hours of sitting at a desk with little movement throughout the day.
Such long periods of sedentary behaviour have been linked to several long-term health conditions such as :
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Poor mental health
Evidence suggests that spending more time on your feet can increase productivity and improve performance within the workplace . Try standing every hour (you could even throw in some star jumps or squats – if you’re feeling extra active!).
To decrease your risk of these conditions and increase your steps, you could:
- Try standing for meetings
- Walk around during phone calls
- Take a coffee break outside
- Have a meeting outdoors/on a walk
3. Try a short workout on your lunch (or before work)
Do you often find yourself eating your lunch at your desk whilst attempting to reply to emails?
You could use your lunch break to go out for a jog or do a short, high-intensity workout. Many gyms now offer dedicated lunch break gym classes, or there are free classes to follow on apps like Adidas or Nike. Getting outside with your colleagues for a walk can also help you reach your daily 30-minute exercise goal.
Exercising in the morning is also a great option. Cortisol is naturally the highest first thing (the hormone that keeps you alert and awake). So, working out in the morning means you're taking advantage of this boost of energy, rather than saving a workout for the evening when our bodies are starting to prepare for sleep.
4. Get on your bike
During the lockdown, bike sales went up by a whopping 63% in the UK . And what better way to put that lockdown purchase to beneficial use than cycling to work or at the weekend?
Cycling could save money on commuting, improve cardiovascular function, mental wellbeing, and energy levels . However, we know that long commutes, school runs, and busy work schedules can make it tough to commit to cycling to work.
Try these ways to make some of your daily trips more active:
- Leave earlier and park your car further away on the school run
- Get off the bus or tube a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way
5. Sneak activity into sedentary times
Who says you have to sit down to watch TV? Moving during your favourite show can be an easy way to keep your activity up.
Whether you’re getting into the new Bridgerton or are sitting down for MasterChef, it’s a great time to try:
- Stretching – simple forward bends, cat and cow, or down dog
- Bodyweight, core, or arm exercises – squats, lunges, sit-ups, or press-ups
- Raising your heart rate – star jumps, skipping, or jogging on the spot
Track your progress
Here are some of the ways you can track the progress of your initiatives:
1. Body Mass Index
For some people, losing weight might be one of their top priorities. But the scales shouldn’t be the only number you’re watching. Read more about BMI and five alternative measurements to consider.
2. Mood diary
Make a note of your mood every day to see how it changes. You can track this on your phone, in a written diary, or on your calendar.
3. Resting heart rate
If you have a fitness watch, you’re likely to see your resting heart rate reduce with regular exercise. It doesn’t have to be heavy exercise either. Meditative practises like yoga can also help lower your heart rate .
4. Blood testing
Regular exercise can help to improve many blood testing biomarkers, including:
- HbA1c (blood sugar control)
- Lower LDLs (bad cholesterol)
- Increase HDL (good cholesterol)
- Reduce uric acid levels (minimising risk of gout)
- Reduce inflammation
- Liver function (for people with fatty liver disease)
These biomarkers are all included in our Advanced Well Woman and Advanced Well Man Blood Tests. We also offer a range of Sports Performance tests where you can measure your fitness baseline and track your progress.
If you’re unsure which test is right for you, go to the test finder to see your top recommendations.
How can I get involved in Active April?
To take part in our #ActiveApril challenge, you need to move however you want for 30 minutes a day for 30 days.
Be in with a chance of winning our mega health bundle*:
- Follow @medichecks on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter
- Like our #ActiveApril post and tag three friends
- Share the post to your story
Health bundle prize for one lucky winner:
💉 A Medichecks blood test of your choice
⌚ A FITBIT Versa 2
💧 A Chilly's water bottle
💊 A Get Nourished Wellness Gift Box
🧠 A 6-month Headspace membership
* UK entries only. Entries close at midnight on 30th April 2022. The winner will be announced on the 1st of May and will be contacted via their social media account.
- Guthold, R., Stevens, G., Riley, L. and Bull, F. (2018). Worldwide trends in insufficient physical activity from 2001 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 358 population-based surveys with 1·9 million participants. The Lancet Global Health, 6(10), pp. e1077-e1086.
- Hills, A., Andersen, L. and Byrne, N. (2011). Physical activity and obesity in children. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 45, pp.866-870.
- Biswas, A., Oh, P., Faulkner, G., Bajaj, R., Silver, M., Mitchell, M. and Alter, D. (2015). Sedentary Time and Its Association with Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults. Annals of Internal Medicine, 162(2), p.123.
- Active Working (2019). Costs of Prolonged Sitting to the Employer, Costs of Absenteeism, Cost of Presenteeism. [online] Getbritainstanding.org. Available at: http://www.getbritainstanding.org/sitting-cost.php [Accessed 19 Aug. 2019].
- Reimers, A., Knapp, G. and Reimers, C., 2018. Effects of Exercise on the Resting Heart Rate: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Interventional Studies. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 7(12), p.503.