When programming for clients, I always have a look at their overall daily energy expenditure, not just the time that they spend exercising.
Granted, the benefits of a structured training session are huge. However, when it comes to fat loss, the amount of activity in your waking hours can have a huge impact on your overall energy expenditure, which can assist towards your overall calorie deficit. One misconception is that this means just eating less. Remember, there are two sides to this energy equation, so another consideration could be increasing your activity level.
Take this scenario. You might train four times a week, spending 45-60 minutes on each session - so that is three to four hours over the whole week. There are 168 hours in the week; four of those you are exercising and give or take, 56 of them are spent sleeping.
So what about the other 108 hours? Is there an opportunity there to improve your energy expenditure even slightly?
Take walking for example. Walking is a fantastic low barrier option for improving your output. You may also find mental health benefits too, like improving energy, reducing stress and keeping you present in the moment.
I know sunny days can be few and far between here in Ireland but sun exposure, or even walking outside in the daylight, can assist the release of serotonin - which has been shown to enhance your mood. As well as that, sunlight exposure can help regulate your body’s internal clock - in particular, early morning sunlight will assist sleep at night.
So what habits could you start, to help keep that step count up?
(1 ) Take the stairs instead of waiting for a lift or jumping on the escalator. Do what I do and race them and see if you can beat them!
(2 ) Park further away - rather than all the hustle and bustle of trying to find a prime real estate car parking space, park further away. You are guaranteed a spot, no one will be banging their door off yours and you get a few extra steps in.
(3 ) Get off a stop earlier when travelling on public transport. I’m not talking about getting off at the Castlebar train stop if your destination is Westport, but if the weather is good, then why not jump off the bus a stop earlier. That way, you get some steps in and you feel more energised before you get to your destination.
(4 ) Have standing meetings or walk while you talk. Instead of another hour sitting on your derriere, why not introduce the option of standing meetings? Or rather than taking a call at your desk, why not get up on your feet and walk while you talk?
(5 ) Housework or gardening is a great opportunity to increase your overall activity levels and up that step count. Plus you are getting stuff done - win win!
(6 ) After you have eaten your lunch, why not pop out for a 15-minute walk. This will help with blood flow, digestion and also bump up those daily steps.
Micheál Penston is the Head Coach at FM Fitness & Nutrition. They specialize in helping busy men and women to create the healthiest versions of themselves through educating and empowering around all areas of their lifestyle from fitness, nutrition, recovery and behaviours. Find out more about their methods at www.fmfitnessnutrition.com or social media handles @fmfitnessnutrition