Updated: Nov 5, 2021
When people look to get in shape the first port of call is often a gym or a personal trainer. While it is a great place to start, it is not enough to guarantee good results in a short period of time. If your energies don’t extend beyond the boundaries of the gym walls, you will not achieve what you want to achieve in a manageable manner. As important as it is to have a focused routine of exercise, there are many other things you can do outside of the gym to help you achieve your goals.
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The first is the kitchen! Eating a healthy diet of natural foods is a great place outside of the gym or your sessions to start. At the end of the day, a great physique is 70% diet, 30% everything else. There are some other things you should be doing which will help you burn more calories, remain injury-free and increase adherence to a healthy lifestyle. Let’s take a look:
1. Walk A LOT!
Aside from increasing your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) and, therefore, increasing your calorie deficit which is important for weight loss, walking long distances has many other benefits. Being outdoors in nature provides a multitude of physical and mental health benefits so try to walk in a forest, park, countryside or hills. Being exposed to the elements, either hot or cold, is great for our immune system and vitamin D levels, so get out in any weather. Try to walk on an empty stomach before you have breakfast if you can. Finally, practice mindfulness, use a walking meditation app or listen to a podcast to get the most out of your morning, nature, fasted walk.
2. Stretch More
I don’t mean spend more time stretching before or after your sessions - though it won’t hurt to do so! Whenever the opportunity arises, stretch a problem area you may have. Common problem areas include:
Incidentally, these muscles/areas become tight due to the “dysfunctional triad” of sitting for too long, being inactive and staring at your phone.
Think about stretching your calves when going up the escalators, stretching your piriformis or hamstring whilst watching the TV, cross leg stretch whilst seated, taking multiple steps at a time when going upstairs to increase mobility. Anything you can think of that provides a stretch will help you perform better.
3. Have Active Fun
Exercise doesn’t have to be exercise, it can sometimes be camouflaged as fun. Dancing, playing, sports and other “physically demanding activities”, *ahem*, are all fun, but also a great way to burn extra calories. Try a different sport or activity every month with a new friend or your partner and have fun. Play in the grass, move around a lot, climb a tree or go bouldering. We are built to be active, so let’s be active!
4. Do things the hard way
We are programmed to find the most energetically efficient manner to perform physical tasks. This is an evolutionary mechanism we evolved due to the uncertainty of energy intake, meaning we tried to conserve energy in many areas of life. Now, thanks to the abundance of food, we no longer need this mechanism, so we should try to work around it. Get off a stop earlier than you need to when taking public transport, take stairs 2 or 3 steps at a time, carry as much shopping as possible in one go and park further away from shops. These are all ways you can do extra “exercise” without viewing it as exercise. Remember, any physical task is an opportunity to exercise!
There you have it. 4 ways to boost your fitness outside of the gym! The take away from these points (if you came here to get the gist of the article) is to:
Walk before breakfast, preferably in nature whilst being mindful or listening to podcasts
Stretch your tight areas more wherever possible
Have more physically demanding fun - dance, play, climb
View any physical activity as an opportunity to exercise
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Maitland is a personal trainer with over 13 years of experience. He has worked alongside a wide range of leading CEOs, entrepreneurs and medical professionals. John is a keen athlete and holds a black belt in Shaolin Kung fu. A fan of the great outdoors, he can often be found exploring the British countryside and mountains...or breaking pine boards with his fingers.