Do you always ask yourself how to be healthy and fit—all the time? Staying in shape is a challenge even when you have easy access to a gym. When you don’t have the opportunity to hit the treadmill or break a sweat at your local boutique fitness studio, it’s doubly tricky, because you not only need to self-motivate, but you also need to actually create a workout with limited resources and no expert trainer to push you. Challenge accepted. While it might not be easy, maintaining a regular fitness routine is a crucial part of a balanced, healthy and happy life. First of all, it’s beneficial to your body (duh), in more ways than you might realize. As Fitness Magazine reports, according to the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, “as little as 30 minutes of cardio three to five days a week will add six years to your life.” Regular physical activity can also reduce your risk of diabetes, promote heart health, help you manage your weight, strengthen your lungs and more. And the benefits don’t stop there. John Ratey, Harvard Medical School psychiatrist and author of the book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, explains, “exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning.”
So it’s clear that you should get moving. But what if you’re on vacation, stuck at home, in a remote location or trapped in a place with no formal gym or fitness equipment. Then what? Here are some tips on how to be healthy and fit to help you even on days that you can’t make it to the gym.
Go for a Run Sure, running on a treadmill has its perks: you know exactly how fast you are running, how far you traveled, how many calories you burned, what your heart rate and you can easily manage your intervals and exertion, taking the guess work out of training. But running outside has its own benefits. According to fitness pro Tim Ferriss, best-selling author of The 4-Hour Body, “the varying terrain, for one, provides stimulus that you can’t organically achieve indoors, and second, even brief exposure to natural surroundings can improve mental performance.” So when a treadmill isn’t an option, and even when it is, take your routine outside and get lost in your surroundings. Go for a jog, vary your speed, mix up your route, crank up some motivational tunes and enjoy your workout.
Get Outside and Explore Your Hood If you’re on vacation or visiting a new neighborhood, instead of driving around town, go for a brisk walk. You’ll explore new streets, check out local sites and get so distracted by what you see that you’ll totally forget you’re exercising. Just make sure you keep walking at a brisk pace so that your heart rate remains elevated and your muscles are constantly in motion.
Involve Your Kids If you have kids, then it can be incredibly hard to find time to focus on yourself and your own well-being. Snack time, naptime, play dates, diaper changes and swim lessons all come before your fitness routine. But why should you have to choose? Do a workout that involves your kids, so everyone gets moving and has fun. Leapfrog never gets old and your kids will love it while you all break a sweat together. Other ideas: hold a plank while hanging out in the playroom, do sit ups while your kids hold your feet in place and count, use the bathroom step stool to do step-ups, teach your kids some yoga moves and then practice them together.
Take a Break From Your Desk If you spend your days working indoors, stuck in front of a computer screen, you’re probably itching for a way to workout without slacking off at work. All you need to do is get creative as you sneak in some activity, without ever leaving your desk. Alternate your regular desk chair with a stability ball so that you can work your core and improve your posture as you work. As Prevention Magazine reports, according to John P. Porcari, PhD, FACSM, exercise physiologist at the University of Wisconsin, “people tend to slouch and use poor posture, and sitting in a chair puts your abs on ‘slack’ and decreases core strength. Using an exercise ball counteracts both of these things.”
Make the Park Your Gym Even if you can’t find a gym facility, chances are there is some outdoor park that you can turn into your own personal workout central. Find a bench and use it for pushups, look for a tree with a sturdy, horizontal branch and use it for pull-ups, and do bench hops by sitting on a park bench, then jumping up as high as you can, then returning to a seated position.
Create Your own Boot Camp Workout with Friends If you need a little motivation, grab a friend or two and commit to regular workouts outside together. It’s harder to slack off when you are not only focusing on yourself, but also your buddies. Plus it will be more fun. This workout from Equinox instructor Lashaun Dale guarantees you’ll burn up to 350 calories in only 30 minutes. No gym required!