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Posted on 26 Aug 2015 Views 4783 Comments 8

How to get more light exercise into your day

Regular physical activity (exercise) is just as important for our health as the foods we eat. However, we often push physical activity to one side and try to lose weight by dieting alone. Whilst in the short term, you may lose weight this way, the key to keeping weight off long term is changing your lifestyle – changing both your dietary habits and your physical activity routine.

Whilst on the Slim & Save programme, you’ve probably already reviewed your usual diet, and where you might have been going wrong in terms of becoming overweight in the first place. Perhaps it’s your portion sizes, or unhealthy snacking, or the frequency of eating out and takeaways. However, have you managed to consider your physical activity routine and how this could help support your weight loss goals? This article will provide you with some information on physical activity, and how to integrate this into your everyday lifestyle during and after Slim & Save.

What are the benefits of exercise?

Put simply, the evidence tells us that people who do regular physical activity live longer. However, there are lots of other benefits to regular exercise, including:

  • Maintaining weight – exercising helps us lose weight and maintain it at a healthy range. Regular physical activity helps us prevent weight gain, which will be very important to our Slim & Savers
  • Reducing your risk of chronic illnesses like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. If you already have a chronic condition, regular physical activity can help control symptoms such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and back/joint pain
  • Exercise can improve your mood. If you’re struggling with stress, anxiety or low mood, exercise could really help improve things. Being active increases the circulation of the hormone ‘serotonin’, which is often referred to as the ‘happy hormone’. Exercise gives us similar feelings to chocolate and sex!
  • Improving your sleep quality

Fitting exercise into your current routine

Rather than rushing out to buy a gym membership, and starting a vigorous training routine, think about what forms of physical activity are sustainable for you. Think about the sort of activities you would still be able to keep up in five years’ time, and consider those changes. The best sort of changes are those that fit into your daily routine. Here are a few examples of activities that can burn extra calories without too much extra effort:

  • If you usually drive the school run, could you walk, cycle or scoot instead, or even park a little further away than usual?
  • If you usually drive to work, could you walk or cycle instead, or park further away than usual? Many work places have cycle to work schemes with tax-free incentives that you may benefit from. Check out CycleScheme for more information
  • Woman with Skipping Ropes
  • If you get a lunch break at work, why not go for a brisk walk round the block, or even run up and down the stairs a few times?!
  • If you have a sedentary job, e.g. office-based, why not stand up more – for example whilst taking phone calls? Depending on your weight, you will burn around 20–50 more calories per hour standing as you will sitting down. This may not sound like a lot, but spread across a week, this can make a real difference
  • What do you do with your evenings? If like the majority of the population, you enjoy chilling out in front of the box, it might be worth reviewing your time. According to a recent survey, we spend 17 times longer watching TV than exercising! You could try having a walk round the block to break up the evening, or walking/running up and down the stairs a few times during ad breaks, or doing some simple resistance exercises with light weights whilst watching TV.
  • If you have children, why not try some family games and activities, like dancing and charades to get active as a family after school or during the weekend? The Change 4 Life ’10 minute Shake Up’ has lots of fun ideas and inspiration for getting active as a family
  • Invest in a stepometer and monitor the number of steps you currently do in a day. Try to aim higher each day. 10,000 steps is a good figure to aim for initially. You can usually pick one up for under a fiver, or download a stepometer app to use with your mobile phone
  • Many local parks do ‘Park Runs’, and this is an excellent way to don your running shoes try out light jogging in a friendly non-threatening environment. You can see if there’s one in your area by visiting Park Run. You could also try the Change 4 Life ‘Couch to 5k’ app, which is a tool to help you get from the couch to running 5k in nine weeks

What counts?

Anything is better than sitting down! However, to benefit your health, you need to be doing at least ‘moderate’ physical activity – something that increases your heart rate, makes you breathe faster, and makes you feel warmer. Or put another way, activities where you can still talk but would struggle to sing the words to a song! You should do at least 30 minutes five times a week, but lots of shorter 5 minute bouts throughout the day all count too as they can be added up.

Whilst exercise is not just about calories burned, it’s sometimes useful to think of activities in terms of the number of calories you burn – especially for those activities you might not traditionally think of as ‘exercise’, like housework and gardening. The following table may help you with your planning. They are based on calories burned for a 90kg person (if you weigh more, you will burn a little more). To help put this into context, sitting down and typing at the computer for 30 minutes only burns 45kcal.

Activity Length of time Calories Burned (kcal)
Ironing clothes 30 Minutes 103
Dancing 15 Minutes 146
Vacuuming the house 30 Minutes 158
Walking briskly 30 Minutes 203
Gardening 60 Minutes 360
Skipping 15 Minutes 200

Additional notes for people currently on Slim & Save

As you will no doubt already be aware, high intensity exercise is not advised whilst in ketosis. This is because in order to sustain high intensity exercise, your body needs carbs; it cannot break down fat stores quick enough to supply the extra energy needs for intense exercise. You’ll probably struggle with fatigue and poor energy levels if you partake in intense exercise whilst on the programme. Whilst you’re on Slim & Save, think about how to incorporate extra physical activity into your daily routine, and plan in regular slots of moderate intensity activities (like jogging, cycling or swimming) especially if you’re unable to exercise during the day due to work commitments. Check out our exercise advice page for more information.

Exercising after Slim & Save

Once you have lost your weight and achieved your goals, it’s important now more than ever to consider your physical activity routine. Think about all those ways you are incorporating physical activity into your daily life, and consider including (or building up to doing) some more intensive exercise. For some people, this may be taking up a sport, for others joining a gym, and for others, simply doing a regular exercise DVD or online exercise video may work best. Do something you love, or set yourself a goal to do something you’ve always wanted to do. However, remember to start small and work your way up, and remember to always set yourself realistic goals.

Written by Annemarie Aburrow RD BSc (Hons) PGDip, Slim & Save Dietitian

Comments on How to get more light exercise into your day
Jennifer Goodall 28/03/2017 08:43
Light exercise is really good for you and you don't have to go to the gym to do it either. You can light exercise whilst simply doing your housework or taking the stairs instead of the lift at work.
Lianne Wilson 02/09/2015 15:20
Fab article. I'm a mum to three boys so it can be difficult. I'm walking during the school run when it isn't raining and I've been using my other two boys as weights! Laying on my back and lifting them to play superman makes them laugh but helps tone my arms he he!
tasha Thompson 02/09/2015 14:57
amazing article ☺
I have a fit bit and 2 little rug rats to run around and I always make sure I don't sit down at all during the day. I am constantly doing something for extra light exercise.
Shrinkingkam 02/09/2015 14:28
I've bought myself a Fitbit and got the app to plan some local walking routes. On the weekends, I get my nephew (4) and niece (11) to join me in "who can do the funniest dancing contest". Also starting some Yoga.
Jackie Clark 02/09/2015 12:03
I always use the upstairs toilet when I need to go, it give me an extra few steps every visit as well as climbing the stairs to tone my thighs and butt. Whilst waiting on the kettle boiling I use a tin of beans to do some arm raises for my under arms. I also try to walk every day despite an office job, and don't use weather as an excuse - I just pop to the supermarket or the shopping centre and wander the aisles to get some steps in whilst warm and dry. I find a standard wander up and down all the aisles can give me 3000 steps. I never park near the shops either, I leave the car at the opposite end of the car park and get extra steps that way. In the office I walk upstairs, never use the lift - even to get to the fifth floor. Whilst stuck in traffic I alternate between flexing and holding my stomach muscles and doing my pelvic floor exercises. I also dance in the kitchen when cooking - I crank the radio up and boogie between fridge and cooker. I might look stupid but I'm getting my heart rate up. I've always found the time to fit little bits in to help my losses.
Julie winders 02/09/2015 11:58
When the adverts come on the tv, I make a point of running up the stairs, I'm not quick, but it's a start to a healthier lifestyle !
Sue Roberts 29/08/2015 11:36
I have started to do arm exercises while I clean my teeth, it turns out that my teeth are getting a better clean as doing them for longer while my triceps/biceps get a workout. This way it should become a ritual along with brushing teeth x
Sally Preston 26/08/2015 23:40
Thank you for the great article it certainly gives me "food for thought" :) I work at a desk for 40 hours per week and have started getting up from my desk every hour and I do 10 squats, then the next time I do 10 lunges etc. I am lucky to work in an office on my own but if a colleague was to come in whilst I am performing my routine I would feel a little silly to say the least :)

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