When I first began my journey to become a Personal Trainer there was a term that frequently came up that I’d never heard of before:
What is active living, you ask? Well let’s start off with what active living ISN’T.
Active living isn’t sitting at a desk for 8 hours, driving to the gym, spending 60 minutes on the elliptical, then driving home to sit on the couch for the rest of the night.
Active living isn’t exercising to punish yourself for making poor food choices.
It isn’t looking for the easiest workout to initiate weight loss, performing “thigh-slimming exercises” just so you can get a thigh gap, and it isn’t chasing a number on a scale just because.
Active living is embracing physical activity by making it a part of your daily life.
It’s taking the stairs instead of the elevator. It’s opting to walk to the grocery store instead of drive.
It’s finding a form of exercise to participate in because you enjoy it. It’s making physical activity social by getting a group of friends to play volleyball, go on a hike, or go kayaking.
There’s a big difference between exercising and living actively. Going to the gym to exercise is great, but if you’re spending the rest of your waking hours doing as little as possible, you have some work to do.
Think about a regular day. How much of it do you spend seated? Be honest with yourself here. Between commuting to and from work, sitting at a desk, and relaxing at home, the average adult can spend up to 85% of their day seated.
Pretty scary stuff when you think about all the negative effects sitting has on our bodies: tight hip flexors which can lead to inhibited glute function. Tight chest muscles which begin to pull the shoulders forward, causing them to internally rotate and create a (not so) lovely rounding of the spine, which then causes the lower back to compensate by creating an arch at the base of the spine, leading to low back pain and an anteriorly-tilted pelvis.
And that’s just the beginning.
Even if you have a desk job and “have no choice” about having to stay seated for much of the day, there are still plenty of things you can do to embrace active living!
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Go for a walk instead of drive
- Park as far away from the entrance of a store as possible so you have to walk more
- Periodically get up from your desk to move around and stretch
- Find a form of exercise you enjoy and stick to it! We’re fortunate in that there are SO many options available to us these days – conventional gym routines, spin classes, Zumba classes, yoga and pilates classes, Barre fitness, outdoor boot camps, dance classes, recreational sports, even just walking! While these forms of exercise are all very different, they have one big thing in common: if you stay consistent with them, you WILL see results!
- Bring a ball to chase around the next time you head to the beach with friends
- Play tourist in your own city, get a walking guide, and go check out some sights you may have otherwise missed if you were driving
- As I mentioned above, get a group of friends together to play a sport, go for a hike, or train for a race together
- Get a pedometer and aim to walk 10 000 steps every day (and get rewarded for it too!)
- Find ways to give back to your community that will keep you moving, such as tree planting, shoreline cleanups, or garbage pick-ups
Regularly scheduled exercise is great and highly recommended for building muscle, improving flexibility, and increasing strength, however as you can see that’s only one small part of the big picture of active living.
As you all know, I’m a huge gym rat and would love nothing more than to spend hours in the gym playing around with new exercises before heading out for a 20km run. But I work to incorporate all of the above into my life to truly embrace the active living lifestyle. Not only is walking or getting sweaty with friends good for your body, it’s also good for your mind.
So with today being the first day of a new month, I’d like to know how you all plan to embrace active living this August! How are you going to use this beautiful weather to your advantage? What are some other ways to live actively that I’ve forgotten?