Does the thought of Lycra gym bunnies and mud-covered boot camps leave you in a cold sweat? You’re not alone.
Many of us wonder how to lose weight without the gym but don’t panic. Being active doesn’t have to mean running a marathon, or hitting the gym for hours on end. There are plenty of other ways to stay active, burn off a few pounds and enjoy yourself along the way.
Even a little exercise goes a long way
From Zumba and dog walking, to cycling and rock climbing – all of the physical activities you can think of burn fat. Even weeding the garden can burn up to 400 calories an hour. Don’t let the thought of strenuous exercise put you off finding a ‘work-out’ that you will enjoy and want to make time for. Yes, it is easy to think that you have to reach Olympic standard before you jump into a new sport or hobby, but the truth is that anyone can have a go. There are thousands of different ways to stay in shape. Some scientists even think that we can lose an extra 50 calories an hour just by standing instead of sitting. This means that if we get off the couch for as little as three extra hours a day, we can burn an extra 1,000 calories per week. So physical activity doesn’t have to be a chore. It’s time to change your attitude toward exercise, and make keeping fit more enjoyable. Here are a few things to consider before choosing a new fitness hobby that works for you.
1. Cardio and strength go hand in hand
Not all physical activities have the same health benefits. Cardio exercises like running, swimming or cycling get your heart pumping and give your lungs a good workout. Strength training such as lifting weights works on building muscle. And the leaner your body, the more calories you will burn throughout the day, even when you’re sleeping! Plus, building your strength protects from brittle bone diseases like osteoporosis.
So for good all-round fitness you need both cardio and strength training.
Tip: Try something like dancing. A hobby like this improves strength, helps to tone your body and increases your stamina all at once. Plus there are so many styles to try, and all of them will bring you closer to your weight loss goal.
2. It pays to be a team player
We’re more likely to succeed if we’re surrounded by other people with fitness on the brain. Some studies1 show that those who play as part of a team have a better network of support around them, a stronger sense of belonging, and a more positive outlook on life. The trick is to have fun and challenge yourself.
Tip: Join your local football team, dancing club or walking group. Work out and meet new people that will bring out your team spirit. Your commitment to a team will give your weight loss even more purpose.
3. If you want to get fit, get FIIT
Whatever type of exercise you enjoy, FIIT is an approach that helps you get the most from every session. Get used to the same exercise and your body becomes comfortable with the same level of exertion. Meaning that over time you will burn fewer and fewer calories.
If your goal is to be fitter, you have to continually ‘surprise’ your body and change the Frequency, Intensity, Interval and Type of exercise you do. And these changes don’t have to be dramatic.
Tip: Try running for 10 minutes today, in six weeks you could be running for 13 minutes. Or if you currently swim five lengths, try swimming eight. The important thing is to keep pushing yourself with your new hobby. You will be challenging your body and burning more fat.
4. Go hard then go home
When you lead a busy life, finding time for your new hobby can be difficult. The good news is you don’t need to spend all day doing it. Short bursts of sharp exercise works wonders.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves working as hard as possible for short periods of time and then taking recovery breaks in between. Over time, HIIT encourages your body to release growth hormones, which burn up body fat and continue to burn fat throughout the day.
Tip: Take a 30 second walk followed by a 30 second sprint next time you go out for a jog. Repeat the pattern and you should feel the burn. If this doesn’t sound like you, playing a team sport like football means you will be stopping and starting at regular intervals on the pitch.
5. Rest. Repeat. Rest. Repeat.
When we start doing something regularly, we develop habits. These habits become etched into the pathways of our brains. Scientists think that it takes roughly two months for a new behaviour become automatic2. That’s one of the reasons why behaviours like smoking are so difficult to change.
Find a physical activity that you enjoy and make it a hobby. An exercise that you can see becoming the high point of your day. By exercising at the same time, in the same way, every day, you can create positive habits that make you less likely to go back to your old, inactive lifestyle in future.
It’s true that exercise will not become a habit overnight, but you will find that the smaller changes are easy to make.
Tip: Set off early and walk to work instead of getting the bus. Or do an hour of yoga when you get home from work to unwind. Make activity part of your daily life.
When you find a form of exercise that you enjoy, it’s a win, win. You’ll lose weight, feel fitter and discover a whole new lease of life.