It’s Cycle to Work Day on 8th August, which is the UK’s biggest cycle commuting event. But if cycling is not quite your thing, there are many other activities you can enjoy to make sure you get your daily exercise and the health benefits this provides.
Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares some health rewards of her three favourite types of activity you can fit into the working day.
One of the great things about cycling is that all the family can join in! Plus, if you’re time poor, cycling to work is great exercise that can be included into your daily routine.
Getting on your bike uses up around 500 calories an hour (even more if you’re pumping up those hills) and it’s really good for cardio fitness. It’s also a great way to tone up the legs without building huge muscles.
You’ll also burn more body fat if you exercise on an empty stomach. So cycling to work then eating breakfast when you arrive (anything oat-based is great), is the perfect way to start your day. Plus the feel-good endorphins that kick in will make you feel positive and motivated throughout the day.
With no kit required except for a good pair of trainers, walking is the easiest form of exercise to fit into a busy day. If you’re not able to cycle to work, then summer is a perfect time to walk to work if possible. Alternatively, getting some time away from your desk at lunchtime will provide huge health benefits.
It’s not just the calories you can burn from brisk walking which are beneficial. It’s a great way of de-stressing. If you’re eating while stressed your digestive organs don’t receive sufficient blood flow to properly digest food, leading to bloating and wind later on in the day. Plus, walking after eating (and this can also be after your evening meal), helps the body metabolise glucose better, meaning less fat is stored in the body and you feel more energised.
However, you do need to get a bit of a wiggle on! You need to raise your heart rate so you’re a little out of breath and ideally your walk should last around 30 minutes.
If you want something more strenuous, there are many hiking groups around the UK suitable for all levels of fitness; the more hills you attempt the fitter you’ll become and your calorie-burn will skyrocket! And the good news is you don’t have to eat too many additional calories. For a day’s hike, maybe a protein bar snack is the only extra you’ll need apart from your packed lunch.
There are so many dynamic and varied exercise routines available for free on line that will elevate your heart rate and improve overall fitness. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is really popular right now because it’s quick and effective. Even better, you can create your own circuit in your living room and it only needs to take around 20 minutes, including warming up and cooling down.
Moves such as jumping squats, running on the spot, star jumps, lunges and high kicks can all be part of a short circuit, which you can vary week to week. This is great to do first thing in the morning before work and it’s a great energy booster too. Just make sure you have a good breakfast afterwards, preferably protein-based. This helps repair muscle and supports the immune system. Eggs with smashed avocado and a slice of sour dough bread are a perfect option.
Being active can become part of your daily routine; it doesn’t need to take long (unless you want it to) but the health benefits are far-reaching. Enjoy!