If you dread your workout, chances are you're not going to do it. Slogging away on a treadmill for hours may be good for your body but it's not great for your mind. We've put together 5 awesome ways to get fit and burn calories without even realising it!
Gardening is a great functional fitness workout as it will have you squatting down, stretching high, lifting your arms, and carrying heavy loads, all of which will challenge every muscle group in your body. A 140lb (10st) woman can expect to burn up to 300 calories from 1 hour of gardening!
This is a great way to keep fit as it is free, you don't have to leave the comfort of your home, and in the summer you will be exposed to revitalising vitamin D from the sunlight. Not only this, it's a great skill to develop and you will have a beautiful garden to show for your efforts!
2. Playing a musical instrument
It may not feel like it, but playing a musical instrument can be a very energetic activity. Especially instruments like the drums where you use your whole body to play, you can expect to burn between 100-300 calories in an hour!
Learning to play an instrument is an excellent skill to develop as it'll focus you mentally and this should help you in day-to-day life. Not only this, it can be very social as you can then join a band or orchestra to share your passion with others.
3. Playing with your children
It can sometimes feel difficult to exercise when you have kids as finding time can be almost impossible. Playing with your children by chasing after them in a park or playing football or another sport with them is an awesome way of getting fit yourself while also allowing your kids to expend all their pent up energy. Forget lifting weights, lifting your kids will give you a great workout without having to hit the gym!
Playing with your children gives you an opportunity to bond and you won't even notice how many calories you're burning. Another benefit is that you'll be helping your kids to get active from a young age which will really help them in the long run.
4. Walking the dog
If you have a furry friend or two, you can expect to burn up to 200 calories an hour by walking them. Depending on how energetic your dog is, you could even go jogging with them to help them exercise better.
By having the company of your dog, you won't feel as self-conscious while out and about and knowing that you have to walk them will be all the motivation you need.
Finally, spending time cleaning your house can be a great way of burning calories, toning up, and you'll have a beautiful sparkly house at the end of it! Just like with gardening, cleaning will act as a full body workout as you'll be squatting down to scrub low surfaces, reaching high, bending and twisting in all directions in order to clean. This will mean that all of your muscles are worked – even ones you may never have worked before!
10,000 is the magic number for anyone with a fitness tracker, but why 10,000? What's the trick to this magical digit? With more and more people tracking their every move with fitness trackers, what can 10,000 steps really do?
History of 10,000 Steps
The recommended 10,000 steps that we see so regularly on our wrists today actually ventured over from Japan. In the 1960s, Japanese Doctor Yoshiro Hatano was concerned about the rising levels of obesity in the Japanese people and so began to research the activity of the people of his culture. The doctor and his team found that the average person walked 3,000 - 5,000 steps a day. His research found that in order to burn just 20% of their daily calorie intake, most people would need to walk at least 10,000 steps a day.
Dr Hatano then created a pedometer called the “Manpo-Kei” which translates as "10,000 steps meter".
The watch's motivation and simplicity made it become very popular in Japan and it remains popular to this day, so much so that the Japanese government have provided an accuracy measure of 3% which all pedometers must reach. of 3% accuracy for all pedometers sold in their country.
Fast forward to today and the 10,000 steps per day campaign is being backed by huge federations such as the NHS, World Health Organisation, American Heart Association and the US Centers for Disease Control.
Research supporting 10,000 Steps
Today, research has proven that tracking your steps can increase your daily activity and help to improve health. Research published in The American Journal of Preventative Medicine trialled the use of Fitbit as a physical fitness intervention in inactive, postmenopausal women. After 16 weeks of monitoring their activity with a Fitbit, those who wore a Fitbit were significantly more active than the control group.
A study by The American Stroke Association found that daily walking reduced the risk of stroke in men over the age of 60. Walking for at least an hour or two could cut a man’s stroke risk by as much as one-third, and it didn’t matter how brisk the pace was. Taking a three-hour walk each day slashed the risk of stroke by two-thirds.
How far is 10,000 steps?
The average person has a stride length of 2.1 ft, or around 60cm, meaning it takes around 2,000 steps to walk a mile, so 10,000 steps to walk about 5 miles. A brisk 10 minute walk? 1,000 steps. The average inactive person walks anywhere between 3,000 to 7,000 steps a day, so for most reaching 10,000 steps would involve adding a 30-60 minute walk to their daily routine.
How many calories will I burn if I walk 10,000 steps a day?
A person aged 45 and weighing 70kg (about 11 stone) can burn around 400 calories by walking 10,000 steps briskly. If you're trying to lose weight, walking is very low impact and the real difference will come from your nutrition, but adding a walk into your daily routine will definitely help.
10,000 steps helps reverse the dangers of sitting
Part of the 10,000 steps charm is that it gets you up and out of your chair, as sitting for too long has been found to increase your risk of death from multiple health issues such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Research has shown that sitting for more than 8 hours a day is associated with a 90% increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Aiming to reach 10,000 steps simply just by getting up and moving more can reduce your risk of these health issues.
Research also studied the effect of lunchtime walks on the effectiveness of employees at work and found that lunchtime walks improved enthusiasm, relaxation, and nervousness at work.
Walking was also found to improve quality of life for depressed middle-aged women. Those who averaged at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise or just over 3.25 hours of walking each week reported feeling more energised and more social at their three-year follow ups.
We've all seen the workout videos that try to encourage us to use everyday household items to help us work out. From pots and pans to the sofa, there are plenty of things you can use to complement your home workout, but here at Sundried, we've taken it one step further!
This routine amplifies your body's work using a towel, creating extra friction or tension to intensify your efforts. We also use multiple planes of motion to develop strength that improves performance not only in sport but in everyday life as we twist and turn in multiple directions without even realising it.
Training in different ways ensures you continue to progress, so challenge convention and use your towel to break a sweat, not wipe it!
Exercises using a towel
Towel Trunk Twist
Hold the towel out taut in front of you. Keeping both feet facing forward, twist from side to side as though you are looking for someone behind you.
Squat with Overhead Reach
Keeping that towel taut, squat down and reach both arms up straight above your head and as far back as your shoulders allow in one smooth motion. You're trying to warm up your shoulders through their full range of motion. We’ll be working them hard in this workout.
Squat with Towel Twist
As you squat twist your hands down towards the furthest foot and then up diagonally to the ceiling as you lift. This should look like a woodchopper motion with the towel kept taut.
Sliding Curtsey Lunges
Place your towel under one foot, this will be the one that moves. Slide back diagonally into a curtsey lunge and then drag the towel back to your start point, without it leaving the floor.
Door Pistol Squats
Wrap your towel around a door handle (make sure it's secure enough to take your weight), now take one leg out in front of you and sink down as low as you can on the other leg, this is a pistol squat. Great from improving your mobility and creating equal strength in both legs through isolation.
Reverse Plank Hamstring Curl
Come down to the floor and place your towel under your heels. Sit with your hands by your hips and then lift up into a reverse plank. Keep your body in a straight line and try not to relax your head back. Now drag your heels in towards your bum and then back out to straight. You should feel this in your abs, shoulders and hamstrings as you drag the towel.
Push Up with Arm Slide
Come into your regular push up position, with your towel underneath one hand. As you lower for a push up slide the towel hand out to your side in a straight line and drag it back in as you extend. If you need to, drop to your knees to make it easier.
Plank Star Slide
For this you need a towel under each foot. Start in your regular plank position, here you're going to be moving the opposite hand and leg. Lift one hand and twist into a side plank as you slide the opposite leg through towards the wall, making your body look like a star. As you return your hand drag your leg back and repeat on the other side.
Place one towel underneath both feet and return to your plank position. Slide your legs in towards your hands keeping your legs straight (without locking your knees) and lift your bum up into the air to perform a pike, pause at the top and slide to the start.
Pull Through Crunch
Sit on the floor and hold your towel taught between both hands above your head. Now bring your legs in as though you were performing a crunch, but as you do, bring the towel down towards your legs. Feed your legs through the gap between your legs and the towel and straighten them once the towel is held beneath your hamstrings. Curl your legs back up and pass the towel over your toes as you return to the start position. Tough.
Dorsal Raise vs V sits
Two for the price of one. Lying on your stomach start with your towel taut above your head. Lift your arms and legs to perform a dorsal raise, then keeping your towel tight, roll over onto your back. From this position fold in half, bringing your extended arms and legs together to meet in the middle for a v sit. Return to the mat and roll over to repeat your dorsal raise.
Towel Bend and Stretch
Holding you towel between both hands bend down keeping your legs straight to stretch your hamstrings and back, then rotate your shoulders and bring your taut towel behind your neck with extended arms.
Assisted Tricep Stretch
Hold the towel in one hand and extend above your head, folding at the elbow to stretch the tricep, now using the other hand grab the towel and gently tug to extend the stretch into the tricep. Repeat both sides.
Assisted Hamstring Stretch
Use your towel as a hook over your toes and gently pull the foot up towards your head to stretch your hamstring and calves. Repeat both sides.
Hold the towel tight above your head and lean towards the outside of each thigh, stretching across your obliques.
Now you may need that towel to wipe your sweat and bonus, your floor gets a good polish at the same time!
To download the Tone with a Towel workout as a take home PDF as featured in BestFit magazine click here.
We are forever being told we need to get fit and the question on everyone's lips is 'how do I get fit?' We look at what it means to get fit and all the ways we can get there. Your go-to guide for all tips to get fit.
What's Covered in this post
- How long until I get fit?
- How long does it take to get unfit?
- Could you be fit and fat?
- What is fit?
- Testing VO2 Max
- Cardio respiratory fitness
- Muscular strength
- Muscular endurance
- Body Composition
How long until I Get Fit?
This question is one that most people will ask at one time or another, especially if they are keen to lose weight, tone up, and are working hard to achieve this. We all want to know when we’re going to see results, but unfortunately there is no clean cut figure which we can place on our fitness. We can, however, predict general patterns, though it is important to consider that everyone’s starting level of fitness differs and therefore so will the duration of time it takes to get fit.
Asking how long it will take to "get fit" is a difficult question to answer as it is not quantitative; there is no template to say what is and isn't 'fit'. Results can be seen as little as a few days, but typically it takes a few weeks for your body to adapt to new stimuli, whether that’s diet, training, or both. This is why if you don’t see results in the first week, you shouldn’t feel disheartened.
Typically, the most measurable results follow after a minimum of 6-8 weeks. There is a common saying that it takes 4 weeks for you to see your body changing, 8 weeks for friends and family, and 12 weeks for the rest of the world.
The best way to determine how long it will take you to get fit is by setting fitness goals. You can also undertake fitness testing by doing physical fitness tests like a VO2 max test. There are other ways to test your fitness such as the sit and reach test or Astrand treadmill test.
Testing VO2 Max
Your VO2 max is an indication of how much oxygen your body can uptake during exercise. You can do several gym-based tests to determine your VO2 max. Alternatively, smart watches such as the Garmin Forerunner 235 running watch can calculate your VO2 max based upon your performance whilst wearing the watch. If running is not your thing, the Wattbike also calculates your VO2 max based on your performance during cycling.
Time trial Ideas
Time trial inspired fitness rulers are great for those who lack the technology to test VO2 max, as they are accessible to all. One example could be completing as many reps as possible of an exercise, for example burpees, in 2 minutes, or running a particular distance and measuring the improvement in time. Remember those awful beep tests at school? That’s just another fitness test and let’s face it you probably pushed that bit harder not because your PE teacher was shouting at you, but because there was an opportunity to beat your mates at something.
How long does it take to get unfit?
According to Dr. Edward Coyle, director of the Human Performance Lab at the University of Texas, in highly-trained athletes, VO2 max decreases by 7 percent in the 12 to 21 days after stopping training and another 9 percent during days 21 to 84.
So after just 3 weeks of inactivity, your fitness could decrease by up to 20%.
VO2 max is a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use. It is measured in millilitres per kilogramme of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min).
Can you be fit and fat?
Being thin on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean you are fit or healthy on the inside. Whilst getting fit should be about maintaining the ideal weight for your height, it’s possible to have a healthy BMI and be unfit. You have to work at your fitness, it really is a 'use it or lose it' scenario.
“Can you be fit and fat?” was a question posed by Professor Steven Blair of the University of South Carolina. For eight years, Blair and his team studied the health of nearly 20,000 men between the ages of 30 and 83. He put them through complete physical assessments including treadmill tests for cardiovascular fitness and body composition assessments. The results concluded that fitness turned out to be a far more reliable predictor of health and longevity than either weight or BMI.
Unfit men with BMIs of less than 27 had a death rate that was 2.8 times greater than men with BMIs of 30 or higher (considered obese) who were moderately fit.
Blair also published a study on the role that fitness vs. fatness, or higher BMI, plays in women’s long-term health. Among 9,925 women who had been patients at the Cooper Clinic at the Cooper Institute, moderately fit women of all weights averaged a 48 percent lower risk of dying prematurely (from all causes) than unfit women. Highly fit women (those who could walk longest on the treadmill) had the lowest risk of premature death of all, nearly 60 percent lower than thin but unfit women.
What is Fit?
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, physical fitness is defined as "a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity."
There are 5 recognised main components for fitness:
Cardio-respiratory fitness refers to how well our bodies can supply fuel during physical activity via our circulatory and respiratory systems. Any activity which increases your heart rate for an extended duration of time will help to improve your cardio-respiratory fitness. Exercising increases cardio-respiratory endurance in a number of ways: the heart muscle is strengthened so that it is able to pump more blood per heartbeat whilst at the same time additional small arteries are grown within muscle tissue so that blood can be delivered to working muscles more effectively when it’s needed. Cardio-respiratory fitness has been found to help ward off the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, type 2 diabetes and stroke, among other diseases.
The US Department of Health and Human Services defines muscular strength as "the ability of muscle to exert force during an activity."
Generally, muscular strength is measured via comparing a person's ability to lift or push a given weight against the ability of the general population to do the same. If a muscle is worked consistently, it should increase in strength.
Related: How To Get Stronger
Muscular endurance is similar to muscular strength, but requires the ability to repeatedly execute strength. What do we mean by this? Whereas with muscular strength luck or adrenaline may push you through a single lift, here it’s how long you can keep going before your muscle tires.
Muscular strength training induces hypertrophy (muscle building), whereas muscular endurance requires a different energy system, which can last for longer.
Body composition refers to the levels of muscle, bone, water and fat that make up your body. Two individuals who weigh the same could have completely different body compositions, which is why there is so much debate whether BMI is accurate as it only considers weight against height.
People with a high muscle mass will weigh more than those who are the same height with the same waist circumference because muscle weighs more than fat. The most accurate way of measuring body composition is through water submersion, and measuring volume and disposition. This is a long, tedious process and for most of us is inaccessible.
There are some smart scales and body composition monitors available on the general fitness market and whilst the accuracy of scales such as these often comes under scrutiny, it still gives the user a good idea of their body composition.
Flexibility is defined as the range of motion of your joints or the ability of your joints to move freely. It also refers to the mobility of your muscles, which allows for more movement around the joints. Flexibility can be increased by a variety of activities designed to stretch joints, ligaments and tendons such as stretching, foam rolling, and yoga.
There are three types of exercise that are generally utilised to increase flexibility:
- Dynamic stretching: the ability to complete a full range of motion of a particular joint. This type of flexibility is used in standard "warming up" exercises as it helps ready the body for physical activity
- Static-active stretching: holding the body or part of the body in a stretched position and maintaining that position for a period of time. One example of static-active stretching is doing the splits
- Ballistic stretching: only to be used when the body is already warmed up and limber from exercise, it involves stretching in various positions and then bouncing while holding the stretch. Some governing health bodies, including the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, believe that ballistic stretching can cause injuries.
A combination of these 5 elements will make a good overall level of fitness, although some may excel at some principles and not others. Fitness is largely subjective and it is important to balance good fitness and health.
To “get fit”, focus on any of the areas above which are weaker for you personally and work to improve them while also setting goals so that you know if you are making progress.
Functional training is all about movements not muscles. Instead of focusing on a muscle in isolation, functional training looks at how the muscles work together to improve the way we “function” in everyday movement.
What is Functional Movement?
Author, speaker, and pro trainer Nick Tuminello explains what is meant by functional movement. “Many personal trainers define “functional training” as exercises using three-dimensional movements or standing on unstable surfaces. Many strength coaches feel that “functional training” has to do with just getting stronger in the basic lifts. Many physical therapists and corrective exercise-oriented trainers think that “functional training” is about regaining your muscle balance and fundamental movement ability before you begin doing either 3D exercises or the basic lifts.”
In truth, functional training is a combination of all these skills. Functional training is training to improve for a purpose. What this means is that functional training will differ slightly for every individual, however there are principles of movement which mimic the way the body is built to move, and these tend to apply to almost everyone.
Functional Movement Patterns
Exercise, at its very simplest, is just movement. These movements are primal; our bodies are designed to move. There are 7 basic movement patterns, which most exercises will fall into. Practising exercises which develop and master these movement patterns will build functional strength which can be transferred into all other aspects of your life, from sport to daily function. If you watch a child, they will naturally learn these moves as they develop their range of movement.
The squat is one of our most primal movements, we are designed to be able to move in this position, which is why you will see many toddlers playing in a squat.
To complete a squat, your head should remain facing forward to keep your spine in a neutral position and you should sink your weight back into your heels and lower towards the floor. There are many arguments as to how low you should go. Your range of motion will depend on your flexibility, but it can (and should) be worked on.
The lunge is a single leg exercise, where one leg takes the lead and the second leg bends as it remains stationary. Originally we’d use this movement for functions such as stepping over obstacles or as we threw a spear to catch our dinner. Now the move is popular for building leg strength as well as to improve sports performance.
When lunging, you should keep your front knee tracking over your foot, but not in front of it. Hold your head high and make sure your back stays straight (try sticking your chest out if your shoulders arch).
The push range of movement requires you to move something away from your body, or move your body away from a force, ie the ground. We have two primary pushing movements, the vertical and horizontal push. A vertical push lifts something above your head and a horizontal press pushes it forward.
The top tip for correcting your push up is to keep your back straight and not let your chest drop; you can do this by squeezing your shoulder blades together. If you can’t keep straight, drop to your knees to make the exercise easier.
Pushups - Indoors or outdoors. Take them anywhere.
Pulling is the opposite movement to a push, bringing an object towards you. Much like with the push up we have two pulling motions, horizontal and vertical.
An example of the pull motion is a pull up. If you can’t do a full pull up you can start with negatives and work your way up.
This is where our third plane of motion gets involved and the movements become more functional. Here we involve the transverse plane.
If you think about lunging down and reaching across your body, or throwing a ball, running, or even walking, most human movement has some element of a rotation involved.
You bend your torso by hinging at the hips. This is one of the most commonly used movements; think of how many times you may bend throughout the day, to open a drawer, pick up your bag, tie your shoes.
Taking the weight through your hips, glutes, and legs is the key to lifting weight in a bent over position. This is done by keeping your low back in a neutral, to slightly arched position, as you bend over to lift an object off the ground.
Arch your back and you're prone to all sorts of injuries, in particular a herniated disk. Ouch.
Walking, jogging, running and sprinting all require a combination of movement patterns which we define as gait. This covers all our movement patterns required to keep the body in motion.
In order for our bodies to move in these particular ranges of motion, our muscles have to work together to create movement. Where bodybuilding isolates muscle groups, functional training brings them together in what we call muscle slings.
Anterior Oblique System:
External and internal oblique with the opposing leg’s adductors and intervening anterior abdominal fascia.
Posterior Oblique System:
The lat and opposing gluteus maximus.
Deep Longitudinal System:
Erectors, the innervating fascia and biceps femoris.
Glute medius and minimus and the opposing adductors of the thigh.
The systems tell us which muscles work together, and help us to analyses how to notice gaps in the sling to develop improved movement.
Anterior Oblique System
The obliques help provide stability and mobility in gait. They are both important in providing that initial stability during the stance phase of gait (running etc.) and then contribute to pulling the leg through during the swing phase. This system is important in helping the body create more stability as speed increases in activities such as sprinting, but also as important as the body tries to decelerate during change of direction.
Posterior Oblique System
This is most commonly used during gait movements where the glute max of one hip works with the lat of the opposing side to create tension in the thoracolumbar fascia. The action of these muscles along with the fascial system is thought to fight the rotation of the pelvis that would occur during gait as well as store energy to create more efficient movement.
Deep Longitudinal System
This system uses both the thoracolumbar fascia and paraspinal system to create kinetic energy above the pelvis, while the biceps femoris acts as a relay between the pelvis and leg. What is also important to note is the relationship between the biceps femoris and anterior tibialis, which creates stability and helps build as well as release kinetic energy to help more efficient movement.
The lateral system provides lateral stability. The lateral system is often used to create stability in the pelvis during walking, stepping, etc.
Squats - a pulse-raising exercise you can do anywhere
Functional Training is training for life
If you haven’t tried functional movements or training slings, try adding moves which challenge these areas into your routine to improve your training.