Believe it or not, your body is in a constant state of motion; indeed it thrives on motion, and no matter how lethargic you are, your body never, ever, stops moving.
Sceptical? Okay try this then; stand up straight with your feet together. Try to stand completely still and count to twenty – it’s actually quite difficult (standing still that is, not counting to twenty!). You’ll find that your body keeps shifting ever so slightly and you are constantly transferring your weight with tiny movements to compensate as muscles and nerves tense, relax, twitch and tremble.
If you’re too lazy to stand up to attempt this simple experiment, try sitting completely still for a few seconds or so, without moving. You might think this is easy, but just like trying to stand up straight without moving – it’s utterly impossible.
Even if you think you have mastered these simple tasks with ease, you haven’t. If you weren’t using numerous muscle groups, you wouldn’t be able to hold up your head – let alone the rest of your body – and you’d have fallen to the floor like a sack of potatoes by now.
Your body is perpetually in motion. Energies are flowing, muscles and tendons are tensing and relaxing, your nervous system’s buzzing, eyelids are blinking, ear drums are vibrating and electrical pulses are darting around all over the place. Your heart’s beating, blood is pumping, your lungs are breathing air, and your stomach’s digesting food or beginning to rumble with hunger pangs. Hairs are growing, nails too. In fact, every single tiny little atom in your body is vibrating in universal rhythm.
And even if you could stop all these processes, your body would still be in motion!
After all, we live on a planet that is hurtling through space at about 66 thousand miles an hour or so, whilst spinning around our Sun at a dizzying 1,000 miles an hour.
And this is all happening within our spinning solar system, within our spinning galaxy, which is spinning in space within our ever expanding universe.
The point is: motion is a law of nature.
Our bodies are truly amazing. Day and night they’re in motion, carrying out trillions of intricate functions, all of which contribute to our well-being. And to help these processes run as smoothly, we need to keep ourselves in good condition. We need to keep fit and healthy.
The simplest way for most of us to keep fit is to utilise our daily activities and harness the invisible exercise time which is available to each of us.
Statisticians have calculated that, in an average lifetime, people walk the equivalent of about 5 times around the world! Incredible but true. We walk all over the place all the time.
Try to count how many footsteps you take in an average day; you’ll be amazed. If you don’t lose count, or give up like I did – it will probably reach the thousands very quickly – and that’s even for those who think they don’t do much walking. Doctors recommend that we walk about 10,000 to 12,000 steps a day to gain positive fitness benefits. Pedometers (electronic devices that count your steps as you walk) are becoming more and more popular and can help you keep track of your daily step count.
Today, you can buy one for as little as £5-£10, and they can really help motivate you to take those few extra steps to hit your target. Unfortunately, the cheaper pedometers (some are even given away as free gifts) have been found to give inaccurate readings by up to 50%. So if you want to track you footsteps accurately, its worth investing in a quality model.
Walking is beneficial for any age and any fitness level, burning off around 140 calories an hour at a slow-medium pace, whilst massaging your kidneys. Even passively increasing the amount of walking you do each day can have tremendous results. Park your car 200 metres further away from work each day and you’ll walk an extra 2,000 metres a week, without even noticing it.
That’s nearly an extra 100,000 metres per year! And all because you parked a little further away.
If you have school children, you can do the same by parking a little further away from the school – or even walk the whole journey for some simple family fitness.
Take a leisurely ten-fifteen minute walk each day, say in your lunch hour, or whilst doing daily chores, like posting a letter, and you will quickly gain some effortless exercise – a short stroll on Sunday afternoon, a walk in the park, or a lazy round of golf. They’re all beneficial.
Our bodies are designed for walking – throughout our history we walked as a means of transportation, not a form of exercise. To get more out of your walking, speed up and increase your pace to a brisk march.
You could even join a local rambling club – who knows where you’ll end up!
Unless you live in a bungalow or ground floor flat, you’ll probably have stairs in your home.
Stair climbing can be a very intensive exercise, burning off more calories by the hour than most other forms of exercise. Although only taking a few seconds, think about the effort it actually takes for you to get up the twelve or so stairs at home when you’re extremely tired or feeling sluggish; they can be tough going. Then imagine not stopping at the landing, but continuing to climb up stairs for a whole hour – you’d be absolutely shattered.
This unpleasant mental picture demonstrates just how much effort and energy you use going up and down stairs. Use this unseen exercise equipment to its full potential. You’ll find stairs everywhere; use them instead of the lift at work or when out shopping, walk up escalators instead of being carried care free to your destination. It takes a small effort to use the stairs around us a little more often, yet they are so beneficial to fitness.
I’ve just recalled watching an episode of the “World’s Fittest Women” on TV, which had one challenge where the contestants charged up two hundred or so large steps, that led to a Buddhist Temple at the top of a steep hill.
Although the fastest lady did it in just under a minute, most found they couldn’t run all the way to the top, and exhaustion slowed them to a painful crawl before they finished; and all were absolutely spent by the time they reached the temple top.
This shows even the fittest people in the world can be worn out in seconds.
It’s simply the explosion of energy you release in this short time that matters.
“Standing up, that’s no exercise,” office workers around the world will cry.
Well, tell that to the fatigued store assistants who are on their feet all day long.It’s a fact - being on your feet can be very exhausting; so if your work or lifestyle involves standing up, take heart, because you are a gaining physical benefit from all this exertion (and getting paid for it too).
It takes a lot of muscle effort to hold the body upright for hours on end – and sooner or later, our lazy nature will kick in, and often make us start to slouch.
As described early in Posture Practice, you can improve your posture immediately at anytime when you become consciously aware of it. When you are standing, keep looking at your posture and correct it when it begins to wilt. Stand tall and straight, not shrugged and lazy. Think about your weight distribution as you stand – is it 50/50 between each leg, or do you tend to slouch to one side, placing more weight on one leg than the other?
Of course, you can do all sorts of exercises whilst you are standing around. Read the previous chapters again and you’ll soon find plenty of exercises which can be done whilst standing.
Incidentally, it’s valuable to note that many victims of crime are targeted because they look weak and vulnerable through poor body posture and negative body language. So straighten up and hold yourself tall – it could help you more than you realise.
Unfortunately, most of us have to work for a living, but on the bright side, most forms of work takes effort and burns energy, whatever your chosen career. Indeed, work is probably the main form of exercise most adults get. Some jobs require you to be extremely fit, such as the military or Fire Brigade, whilst others jobs require a person to sit or stand all day. Some people work in hot sweaty conditions, others in the cold and wet.
But for all their differences, work has one thing in common – it’s a major source of hidden exercise time. Identify this time, and then use it to its full, gaining an extra fitness boost from your workday activities.
PLAYING WITH THE KIDS
If you want a really good cardiovascular workout, spend some quality time with the family and play with the kids for five minutes – if you can last that long. By the time they’re finished jumping all over you and chasing you around, you’ll be lucky if all you’ve lost is a few surplus calories!
Most children love sports too, so rediscover your youth and take them swimming, on a bike ride, or for a game of football or tennis in the park. Remember, it’s your responsibility to get your children moving and prise them away from the TV or games console.
If you have a baby, you can exercise with them too. Lie on the floor and play games, push them around the park in a pram, or have a splash in a pool. It’s easy, interactive, important and fun. Studies have found that light exercise can help beat the baby blues too.
If you haven’t got any children, and don’t want any, consider buying or adopting a dog instead. They make fantastic companions and are a great motivator to get you out and about lots.
If you don’t want your own pet you could offer to walk a friends or neighbours for them – you could even start your own part-time business and make some lazy money whilst exercising!
Gardens aren’t just good for sunbathing and barbecues. Those with green fingers can get a great garden workout as well, especially on hot, sunny days. A lazy potter around the garden can burn over 110 calories an hour.
Mowing the lawn, plucking weeds, watering plants – actions which all exert energy.
So, get outside and enjoy some fantastic fresh air fitness – but be careful – gardening is also a major cause of back pain because of the bending down involved.
Most people know only too well that housework is really hard. Cooking, cleaning, vacuuming, scrubbing, dusting, tidying up, doing laundry, and washing dishes: they are all physically demanding tasks – making them excellent forms of calorie burning exercise.
And as we’ve all got to do them, we might as well utilise them to keep fit. Imagine your daily tasks as a fitness circuit and go about them with a renewed attitude and energy. They’re no longer chores, they’re sets of physically demanding challenges that make up part of your daily exercise pattern.
Dancing is a fun way to get fit. And the motivator of dance is music. Go to any wedding or party and you’ll soon see the positive effect music has on people of all ages.
Music is an energizer, making people of all shapes and sizes get up and gyrate happily without a care in the world. And it can stimulate even the laziest of us into uncontrollable, spontaneous movement.
So put on your favourite toe tapping tunes and harness the uplifting power of music.
One of the quickest ways to get your heart beating FAST is to initiate an adrenaline rush. Take a terrifying trip on a rollercoaster, bungee jump off a bridge, parachute jump from a plane, or simply watch a scary movie. Indeed, anything that frightens you will do the trick fast. This rapid increase in heart rate is not recommend for those with a heart condition, the pregnant, or those of a nervous disposition though.
ELECTRONIC MUSCLE TONERS
This is probably the laziest way to get toned without exercising anything except your credit card. Strap on the pads, turn up the voltage, and you’re sure to be shocked by the results very quickly. You can buy electronic toners from about £30 or so, and if you buy on the Internet, you won’t even have to get up to go shopping.
These devices work on muscle tone by sending bursts of low voltage electricity into isolated muscles that involuntarily make them contract for the duration of the burst. When the pulse of electricity stops, the muscle relaxes, thus simulating dynamic tension and resistance exercising.
But beware, they’ll do nothing for flexibility or mobility, and there are no cardiovascular benefits to be gained. If you want to use them, they should be treated as part of your lazy exercise armoury, not as a substitute for true exercise.
Some say the difference between humans and animals is that we can communicate through spoken language. Unfortunately, in the age of TV and video games, the art of conversation is dying fast.
This is a great shame, not only because of the clear social benefits of good communication, but also because of the fitness benefits talking gives us. As astounding as it might sound, it takes around 72 muscles to speak a single word!
LAUGHING & SMILING
Smiling exercises about 17 facial muscles. Better still, when you smile, endorphins (happy drugs) are released by the body, which not only help block pain, but also generate a feeling of well being and happiness.
A natural smile cuts through many communication barriers and strips away negative forms of body language.A smile can tell people many things about you, almost all being positive.
So practice smiling all day, everyday. Smile at everyone, smile at anyone, smile at anything, smile at everything. It’s a universal language and will make you glow outwardly and inwardly, which in turn will make you look and feel better.
And you never know your luck - someone may just smile back!
Laughing is even better for you. Psychologists have shown that “Mr Angry” types are more likely to have coronary heart problems than someone who drinks, smokes or has high cholesterol!
Being happy also has positive anti-ageing effects and is considered to be a key factor in longevity. Frowning is harder than smiling too; it takes over 40 muscles to pull an unhappy frown. And it’s reckoned that every 2,000 frowns cause’s a wrinkle – so be warned!
Physiologically, laughing exercises the lungs, burns calories, boosts your immune system and can release pent up tensions and stress.
If you find that you don’t or can’t smile or laugh much, then look for the things that you find funny. Read a favourite funny book or magazine, watch TV or a comedy film. Hopefully you’ll soon find your smile.
Kissing is great – especially for exercise purposes as it exercises loads of facial muscles, whilst burning calories too. And for its size, the tongue is the strongest muscle you have in your body.
So get fresh with your loved one and tone up your face, checks, chin and neck.
It’s said a one-minute kiss can burn around 26 calories, so you better get practicing the breathing exercises coming up too!
If you can’t find anyone to kiss, try chewing sugar-free gum for an alternative facial workout.
As well as toning facial muscles, and improving oral hygiene, some believe that chewing gum helps us stop snacking when dieting, as it tricks the brain into thinking that it’s eating.
If you don’t like gum, then you can mimic the chewing movement by moving your jaw up and down for thirty seconds each day.
Probably the most exciting exercise you can ever have - Sex! It’s the oldest form of exercise known to man, and enjoyed by all our bloodline ancestors since the dawn of time.
We all know the joys of sex (hopefully), but it’s nice to know that it provides great cardiovascular benefits too. During sex both partners use many muscle groups, and it''s aerobicand can be very exhausting.Sex is a great way to exercise and, once again the lazy and lethargic come out on top, because slow, lazy sex is far more beneficial for the heart.
Finally, if you really need any more incentive, regular sex has been found to reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men by up to 33%.
QUALITY LEISURE TIME
The easiest, and probably the most important way to exercise without exercising, is to find a sport or leisure activity that you really enjoy participating in. Remember, when you find a sport you enjoy, it’s no longer exercise, but a pleasant and fun way to spend your free time.