There are many benefits to intentionally exercising in the gym for a few hours a week, but, are those few hours counterproductive if you're living a mostly sedentary lifestyle outside of that?
There are 15-16 hours in every day that we're awake outside of the ~1 hour in the gym which could be better utilized to help you achieve your health and fitness goals. Whether you're working out consistently but aren't seeing the results you desire, experiencing recurring pain or injury, struggling with poor mental health or high stress, or simply not sleeping as well as you could be, you could benefit from moving your body more outside of that ~1 hour you spend in the gym.
Here, I'm sharing with you 4 benefits of moving more outside of the gym plus some simple tips to help you get started. Let's dive in!
1. Helps you achieve your fitness goals faster:
Did you know that calories are really just energy? As individuals, we all have a set number of calories we utilize daily to carry out basic life-sustaining functions like breathing and circulation, also known as Basal-Metabolic Rate (BMR). Now, I’m sure you’ve heard that in order to lose weight, your “calories out” have to exceed your “calories in”, meaning you need to burn more calories or expend more energy than you eat or take in! So if you’re only moving your body for 2-3 hours out of 110-115 hours a week, that’s a big chunk of time you’re not taking advantage of to expend energy or “burn calories” and contribute to achieving your goals. Generally, exercise alone is not enough to support weight loss, especially if you’re sedentary the remainder of the day. If you zoom out and look at your entire day as an opportunity to help you achieve your fitness goals, you’ll achieve them faster and with much greater ease. Moving more throughout the day allows you to expend additional energy, which adds up over the course of each week, and is what can support weight loss without even thinking about it. The energy we expend for everything that we do excluding sleeping, eating, and intentional exercise is known as Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). Ways to increase your NEAT include:
Getting up from your desk more often
Standing instead of sitting when possible
Walking while talking on the phone or texting
Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
Parking your car further away from your destination
Carrying your groceries instead of pushing them in a cart
Using the bathroom on a different floor
Walking the long way to where you need to go
Pacing the sidelines at your kids’ sporting events
Playing with your kids outside
Going for a walk with your family after dinner
Washing dishes by hand instead of using a dishwasher
2. Improves posture and reduces muscle pain:
Our bodies were built to move! If you think back to our hunter-gatherer ancestors, they were constantly up and moving. Now, in today’s day and age, we’re doing the opposite and sitting for long hours all day everyday, which is bad for our health. Sitting all day is a recipe for bad posture and muscle pain. It causes rounded shoulders, forward head, tight hips, and lower back stiffness. Poor posture leads to muscle compensations as certain muscles become underactive while others become overactive. Overtime, this can lead to pain and injury. For example, one of the biggest causes of lower back pain is sitting for long hours. This weakens your glute muscles and core, and tightens your hip flexors. As a result, your lower back will begin to compensate for these muscles by doing all of the work during movements, eventually leading to stiffness and pain. The best way to combat this is to avoid sitting for extended periods of time and to get up and move more throughout the day. To improve your posture and reduce muscle issues it’s recommended that you get up and move for approximately three minutes every 30-60 minutes. Standing instead of sitting is also beneficial. Doing this will help you to feel better moving inside and outside of the gym while also getting more out of your workouts.
3. Reduces stress and improves mental health:
Your stress levels and mental health play a big part in achieving your fitness goals for a number of reasons. Stress causes your body to produce the stress hormone, cortisol. Overtime, if not managed, chronic stress leads to consistent output of cortisol with no relief. Increased cortisol levels directly correlate with increased insulin levels, and increased insulin levels are what contribute to weight gain. Thus, chronic, unmanaged stress can be impacting your ability to achieve your fitness goals. Additionally, stress and poor mental health can lead to making poor food choices as the neurotransmitters in your brain, also known as the feel-good hormones, serotonin and dopamine, are lower than normal. Foods such as sweets and sugary foods, fried foods, and alcohol cause your body to produce more of these neurotransmitters. This allows you to feel good temporarily, which is why we naturally reach for them to improve our mood when stressed or struggling with mental health. However, this only ends up making you feel worse in the long run. Getting active and outside in nature is one of the best and healthiest ways to fight chronic stress and improve mental health as it also increases neurotransmitter production in the brain causing a boost in mood without the negative side effects.
4. Improves sleep:
Getting up and moving more can help you sleep better as it requires you to expend more energy, leading you to feel more tired by the end of the day. Additionally, as the majority of people sit at a desk staring at a screen for 8+ hours a day, this not only impacts our posture, but also our sleep. Technology emits a blue light which disrupts your circadian rhythm and can cause poor sleep. Moving more throughout the day helps to reduce screen time allowing for a better night’s sleep. You might also find that by the end of a long work day of sitting, your hips, back, neck, and shoulders feel tight or painful making it difficult to sleep comfortably. By stretching, walking, or moving your body by doing simple exercises like shoulder retractions, glute bridges, and desk push ups throughout the day, you can combat the effects of sitting too much which can help you to sleep better as well.
To sum it all up, working out in the gym on a consistent basis is important for your health, but if you’re struggling to achieve a specific goal or see progress, you may want to take a look at your lifestyle outside of the gym. Even if we show up and crush every workout in the gym, we can’t neglect the majority of time we spend outside of the gym and the impact it has on our bodies.
If you’re interested in receiving further guidance on how to improve your nutrition and lifestyle to help you achieve your health and fitness goals, inquire today! Click below to book a free consultation or learn more about my 12-week Nutritional Therapy program.
Jenn Horowitz, FNTP, CPT, CES, CECP is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, and Emotion Code Practitioner who works to address the root cause of illness. Jenn is the founder of JTH Wellness, a holistic nutrition and wellness practice, specializing in helping people improve their relationship with food, optimize gut health, and regain confidence in their bodies through 1:1 fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle counseling. Jenn works to teach others how to live a balanced lifestyle that allows them to achieve their goals while enjoying life for results that last. Learn more about Jenn’s nutrition counseling services and schedule a free 15-minute discovery session by visiting her website, http://www.JTHwellness.com.