The wonders of incidental exercise

Let me tell you a secret. I hate working out.

Yeah OK, that’s not much of a secret. And to contradict it, I actually quite enjoy exercise. I just find it difficult to stick to a proper routine, which is one of the reasons derby has been very useful for me: someone else has set the routine, I just have to show up (and my overdeveloped sense of responsibility means that I DO show up, including a couple of times when I probably shouldn’t have due to illness or injury). Unfortunately the fact that I skate 2-3 times a week has made it much easier to make excuses about doing off-skates work outs when I have been sick, or tired, or it’s been too hot, or my knee/ wrist/ other has been playing up. After 6 months, I have reached the point where I am holding myself back: derby has done wonders for my fitness so far, but if I work more on my off skates fitness I know I will improve my on-track performance much faster (and better prevent the unequal development that comes from only ever skating hard and turning left).

One of the best things I have done is developed the habit of incidental exercise. When I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is put the kettle on and shuffle to the bathroom. But while I wait for the coffee to brew, I try and do at least 20 sit-ups or push-ups. Like so many people these days, I spend most of my day slumped in front of a computer. Other than getting up regularly to make cups of tea or fill my water bottle, I try and keep moving whenever I can. My posture is pretty crap, so I try and remember to engage my core and sit up straight. Under my desk, I do ankle exercises (either rolling a ball around with my foot, clenching my toes, or holding my foot up in the air and tracing out the letters of the alphabet). When I go to the bathroom, I do 10 squats or lunges before I head back to my desk. When I’m waiting for the printer, I do 1-foot calf raises. When I microwave my lunch, I do wall-sits (with added bonus that the microwave is a timer!). Unfortunately my current workplace doesn’t have anywhere I can do floor exercises, otherwise I would do crunches, push-ups and planks as well because they’re the sort of thing that benefits more from being done for a short period of time multiple time a day than for a long period of time 3 times a week.

This exercise ‘routine’ meant that I lost surprisingly little condition over the month break which pleased me. As of today, I have started riding my bicycle to work again, and tomorrow I will start doing kettlebells as soon as I get home since I will still be in my cycling gear (when I was busing/ driving, I’d get home and be starving and getting changed was just too much effort compared to shoveling food in my face). Tonight is a derby night so I skipped the kettlebells this afternoon. Skating outdoors, especially up hills, is also different to what we normally do in drills which is great.

So have a think about how you can work exercise into your daily life, even if you don’t have time for a full workout. While it’s no replacement for regular cardio if you’re wanting to develop heart-lung fitness, every bit counts!


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