Did you know that physical inactivity is responsible for 1 in 6 deaths in the UK – and this is equal to the death rate from smoking?
Recent government data estimates this physical inactivity to cost the UK £7.4 billion annually and this cost is increasing.
So why do so many choose not to make physical activity a part of their regular routine and behavior when evidence of the health and wellbeing benefits is so convincing?
reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and cancer by 50%
reduce the risk of premature death by 40%
reduce the risk of dementia by 30%
With all this data and in light of recent health concerns you would think that more people made exercise and physical activity a priority in their day to day lives.
So what’s stopping them?
Exercise and physical activity comes in many forms and varies hugely in terms of what is appropriate for different people with different needs and goals.
At one end of this continuum is the physical preparation for elite sport. As a Strength and Conditioning coach my career has revolved around pursuing athletic development and helping my athletes prepare their bodies to cope with the stressors and strains of competitive sport.
In contrast many of my private clients have never exercised before and are reaching out to simply get started and begin a plan for improving their health and wellbeing.
For many other people the prospect of making a big commitment to getting fitter and healthier can be a daunting one. The general guidelines from the NHS don’t help this situation and their advice turns many people off. The NHS recommends that we should make time for > 150 minutes of moderate exercise or >75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week plus two strength sessions to gain the benefits.
It is important to look at these recommendations as only guidelines and not strict rules. There are many ways to increase your physical activity and improve your health and wellbeing without following an extensive gym programme or going to great lengths or expense.
The “Super 7”
The “Super 7” are essentially seven activities that anyone can do every day, without any equipment needed that can have a profound effect on how they look, feel, move, and perform!
The 7 can be easily integrated into your daily routine and hopefully become an embedded part of your behaviors.
The only stipulation is, you must be consistent with each of the activities and follow the same order EVERY day to truly gain the rewards and benefits they offer.
Based on scientific principles and taken from the daily habits and routines of many elite athletes these 7 simple activities can be started today.
Here is how you can add the “Super 7” into a typical daily routine.
You could trial the “Super 7” and then set a notification on your calendar or mobile device to give you a reminder of when to do the activities.
Wake Up 3: Three mobility drills you do as soon as you rise from bed.
We often awake feeling stiff and sore after our night’s sleep. These 3 drills have been tried and tested to improve joint mobility, activate key muscles and stimulate the Neuromuscular system
Bent knee side plank
TIME: 3 Minutes
Hot and Cold contrast bathing
Contrast showers have been shown to wake your body up, stimulate your nervous system and provide multiple health benefits including:
-strengthen the immune system
-lower stress hormones-increase metabolism
Many different protocols exist but we recommend you build up by using the following method.
Have your regular shower and wash then at the end of your shower, gradually begin to turn the temperature down to cold. We don’t recommend you immediately switch from hot to cold at this stage.
You then remain under the coldest temperature for as long as you can tolerate and record your time. If you only manage a 10-second submersion then that is your starting point. Aim to build up your time and tolerance to the cold water submersion and then you are ready for a more advanced protocol.
TIME: 5 Minutes
Single leg stork balance
Improve joint stability, engage core muscles and develop a sense of balance
The dentist recommends that we should brush our teeth for 2 minutes morning and night. You will simply perform a single leg balance and attempt to hold this posture for 1 minute each leg. The knee should be slightly bent, you should engage your core, and focus on feeling the ‘whole of the foot’ distributing your weight. You can then make this more challenging by slowly moving your head. Rotate to the right, rotate to your left; look up and then look down. Repeat as many times as you can within the 1 minute each leg
TIME: 2 minutes
You are fuelling for the busy day ahead. You should NEVER skip this important feeding and hydrating opportunity. Start your day with a breakfast that contains a balanced selection of Proteins, complex carbohydrates, and essential fats. Hydrate with zero calorie-containing beverages so avoid sugary fruit juices and opt for iced water and green tea. Now is a good time to include those essential food supplements such as Omega fish oils to support cardiovascular health, a Probiotic to support gut health and a potent multivitamin to support general health and immunity
Choose the best time for you during the morning. This maybe before work or before a meeting. This may just be part of your snack break.
5-Minute Mindfulness meditation
Allow your body to relax and mind become calm so you can remain focused and productive with the day ahead.
Follow these 6 steps:
- Sit comfortably in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed
- Close your eyes or if you prefer lower your gaze so it falls unfocused
- Allow your body to relax and mind become calm
- Now attend to your breathing. Focus on the movements of your breath as it enters and leaves your body. Some people find it best to focus on the rise and fall of their belly
- Don’t attempt to change your breathing pattern – keep it natural. If you get distracted and your mind wanders, bring your focus gently back to your breathing.
- After 5 minutes of mindful breathing, open your eyes and take in your surroundings again.
TIME: 5 minutes
Afternoon Wake up technique
We often experience an energy slump and drop in performance and concentration in the middle of the afternoon. This can be due to our natural circadian rhythm patterns and dietary factors.
This evidence-based technique is better than a cup of coffee and can help to energise you for the afternoon and improve your mobility.
You can practice this technique in just 1 minute and it has been shown that your body responds in less than 60 seconds
This wake-up technique can have a positive impact on your:
- focus and mental clarity
- problem-solving skills
- mobility and stiffness
- immune function
- ability to manage stress
Firstly implement a baseline test prior to using the Wake up technique.
This can be a simple toe touch test or a bodyweight squat.
Take a mental note on how the baseline test feels.
Do you have any discomfort or pain?
Do you feel any tightness or restrictions in certain areas?
Then perform the wake up technique, then check against your baseline test and ask yourself “is there a difference?”
It is important to do the baseline every time so you adopt the routine and make it a habit.
Now complete the following technique and then repeat your baseline and note any changes to how you feel and move.
DIAPHRAGMATIC ‘BELLY’ BREATHING
For deep diaphragmatic breathing we are not using our chest and upper body to breathe, but instead we’re engaging our lower belly as we inhale and exhale.
With one palm softly on your belly, just below your belly-button, breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Feel expansion in your hands all the way around, from front to back
The technique is based on a 10-second rhythm; 5-seconds inhaling followed by 5-seconds exhaling.
Complete a minimum of 6 rounds of the 10-second cycles.
Then repeat your baseline test
“is there a difference?”
TIME: 1 minute
Physical activity or workout
Using whatever time you have available do some form of physical activity. It is the preferred time as you will then follow up with your evening meal. This simple strategy has several benefits including a greater tolerance of carbohydrates due to the fuel used during exercise and proteins to support recovery. This strategy will help support body fat loss and weight management.
You may decide to go for an evening walk and try and maintain a brisk pace. Decide on a route and aim to maintain a good pace for 20-30 minutes. It should feel as though you are working at 60-70% effort and you are able to maintain a conversation if walking with a partner. If you are fitter you can make this duration longer and the route more taxing. See our advice on methods of monitoring to help gauge training intensity more accurately.
Alternatively you could try this body weight workout.
You will need a stopwatch a towel and a bottle of water.
TOTAL BODY CIRCUIT
You will start each exercise and work for the desired period and then take a short rest period before starting the next exercise.
You will complete all 5 exercises, and then take a 30-60 second rest before repeating the circuit again.
You will complete 5 rounds of the circuit.
- Reverse lunges
- Press ups
- Sumo Squats
Select the most appropriate work and rest duration for your fitness level:
Easy: (Total workout time =18 minutes)
Work for 15secs
Rest for 15secs
Moderate: (Total workout time = 24 minutes)
Work for 30secs
Rest for 15 secs
Hard: (Total workout time =30 minutes)
Work for 45secs
Rest for 15secs
To prepare your body and maximise the benefits of your workout you should complete the following warm up and activation exercises (see the end the document for a guide to your warm up)
At the end of your workout to facilitate your recovery you should complete the following cool down stretches
TIME: 20-30 minutes
4 in 4 Flexibility
Restore muscle length and develop your flexibility of key muscle groups
Help you to relax and prepare for a restful nights sleep
- Lat stretch
- Hip flexor stretch
- Adductor stretch
- Calf stretch
TIME: 4 minutes