You don’t have to overhaul your life to work off tons of calories. Here are 7 simple lifestyle rules for squeezing the most out of your everyday routine to score the hour glass figure you’ve been sweating and longing for.
Habit #1: Be an early bird to get the workout.
Lace up first thing and you’ll increase your odds of exercising today threefold. A recent study found that 75 percent of those who worked out in the morning did so regularly, compared with just half the afternoon exercisers and a quarter of the post-work crowd. You’ll go to work feeling focused and your workout will improve your concentration, reading comprehension, and cognitive function.
Habit #2: Hit the metal before the pedal.
Instead of going from zero to 60 to sweat off the calories, consider this: Doing a quick sculpting routine pre-cardio could increase the amount of fat you melt. Exercisers in a study at the University of Tokyo who biked within 20 minutes of lifting weights tapped more of their fat stores than those who rested longer or didn’t tone at all.
The firm-then-burn order is also good for your heart: Arteries stiffen during resistance training, increasing blood pressure, but a cardio chaser such as a 20-minute run counteracts these effects and expedites your arteries’ return to normal.
Habit #3: Push your pace, rev your metabolism.
Gun it a bit for a bigger afterburn. “igh-intensity exercise increases the release of growth hormones, which mobilize fat to be used as fuel, plus it causes your metabolism to stay elevated about 10 to 15 percent above its baseline, so you’re burning more fat for several hours post-workout. In other words, if you worked off 300 calories during your session, you’ll get a bonus burn of about 45 calories even after you’ve toweled off.
Habit #4: Give up your seat to trim your bottom line.
Even regular exercisers could benefit from extra toning of their tush, the largest muscle group in the body, which dozes all day at your desk job. When you’re walking or running, it’s your hamstrings, hip flexors, and calf muscles that get the most work. Unless you’re going uphill, your glutes don’t play a major role. The good news? If you bailed on doing those butt-firming squats during your workout, you can easily sneak them in when your cube mate isn’t looking. Stand up from your chair, feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your bottom to the seat as though you’re going to sit, touch down, and then spring up, squeezing your glutes as you straighten. Do three sets of 10 to 15 reps two or even three times throughout the day.
Habit #5: Take a power walk to beat a midday slump.
Call it the 20-20 rule: As little as 20 minutes of low-intensity aerobic activity such as walking can give you a 20 percent surge in energy. Many people assume that they’ll get tired from exercise, but the opposite actually happens. Evidence suggests that brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin are altered and cause the improved energy. Besides, that quick recharge just burned about 75 calories. Sure beats adding 250 spike-then-slump calories’ worth of Skittles.
Habit #6: Do the two-step.
When you opt for the stairs, go at them two at a time — as long as you’re not wearing heels. The quick bursts of power activate your legs’ fast-twitch muscle fibers, which burn more calories than slow-twitch fibers. Plus, you’ll be using a part of your muscles that commonly doesn’t get enough action. Fast muscle cells are designed so you can jump far, kick hard, punch fast — moves that you call on less and less in modern society, but unfortunately it’s a use-them-or-lose-them situation, so it’s good to activate them regularly.
Habit #7: Set out your sneakers.
A recent survey found that sneakers — with sports bras being a close second — are the piece of gear that is forgotten most often, foiling women’s workout plans. Clear that obstacle by, well, making them an obstacle in front of the door you exit in the a.m. Seeing them will remind you that you planned to exercise. For motivation to move, kicks are worth a thousand words.