How to fit exercise into your life

Our fitness expert Jennie Gadsby explores ways to sneak movement into your day, no matter what your lifestyle. Ready, steady, move…
Published 27 July, 2023

Busy parent?                                  

Schedule in active play. Emma Jones from children’s dance company, Splatter Dance, says, ‘Pick your child’s favourite book and act it out as you read, doing the movements together, or make an obstacle course using old bed sheets or piles of books.’

Get everyone involved. Use family time at weekends to go out on your bikes or for walks. Take it in turns to choose the activity – make a chart and cross off things, such as bowling, laser-tag or trampolining, as you go.

Load up the pushchair. Leave the car in the driveway, pile something heavy into the bottom of the buggy and go the long way home. Or, walk the kids to school with their bike or scooter, so you have to push it back.   

Work from home or retired?

Try some simple exercises as soon as you wake up. Do this every day and, not only will you make the habit stick, you’ll feel more energised, too. Walk to the local shops, or just do 15 minutes of light stretching to mobilise your joints.                                     

Keep your radio on. Dancing has many health benefits, such as better flexibility and increased mobility, so get boogieing! Dancing around when you’re cooking or while you’re tidying up will provide the same health benefits as a class.

Work on your balance. Balance is an underestimated aspect of fitness. Julie Murgatroyd from Physiofit Physiotherapy and Pilates, Leeds, says, ‘Our balance reaction slows down as we get older, increasing the risk of falling.’ Try simple exercises, such as standing on one leg while holding a solid surface, or slowly getting up and down from a chair.

Manic in the office?

Try my ‘desk-ercise’ tips. Work your tummy by taking a deep breath in and then pulling your abs towards your spine as you slowly exhale for 5-10 seconds. For a great bottom toner, clench your bum cheeks tight and hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat each exercise 10 times.  

Use your social life as an opportunity to get active. Instead of meeting friends for happy hour or brunch, meet at the park and go for a power walk first.

Plan regular screen breaks. Physical activity at work can boost productivity, so get moving for a few minutes every hour. Take a walk around the block, or use the loos or meeting rooms on another floor to clock up extra steps. 

RELATED: Your screen-time diet