Tips to Stay Fit in a Busy City
It’s not easy to make health and fitness a priority when you live in a busy city. You need to find the time in your day to work out, and there’s always the temptation to try out a new bar or restaurant with your friends.
There are plenty of ways to stay in great shape even while living in the city. Try the following strategies to improve your overall health.
Bike and Walk More
One benefit of living in the city is that everything is closer, and you don’t need to drive 15 or 20 miles to reach the nearest shopping center. Instead of driving or taking the bus when you commute or run errands, try walking or riding a bicycle. Either is a good form of exercise that will help you burn more calories every day. You’ll also get fresh air and reduce your carbon footprint.
Another benefit is that you won’t spend nearly as much time sitting in traffic, especially if you have a busy commute during rush hour. The high population density of big cities can make traffic a nightmare, but you dodge that when you stick to biking or walking.
Cities have become more bike-friendly in recent years. Citi even launched a bike share program in New York City in 2013 to encourage more people to ride bikes. Just make sure you follow the rules of the road to stay safe.
Cook Meals in Advance
Convenience is a big reason why people make unhealthy eating choices. It can be a hassle to cook healthy meals several times each day, and it’s even more difficult when you’re away from home. This leads to eating out or ordering delivery.
Instead of making one meal at a time, cook a large amount of food and store it in plastic containers to eat throughout the week. For example, you could cook enough chicken, rice and vegetables to last you for five or six days, and then take smaller portions with you to work every day for your lunch. You’ll save time, you’ll be eating healthy and you’ll save money in the process, since it’s much cheaper to cook your own meals.
Of course, when you live in the city, you’ll still end up going out with friends on occasion. Fortunately, most restaurants, even the fast-food variety, have started offering healthier meal options, so look for those when you can. Instead of getting fries on the side with your meal, you could opt for vegetables. Small decisions like this add up and make a big difference.
Perform Shorter, More Intense Workouts
It can be hard to find an hour or even 30 minutes of free time for a workout every day, but it doesn’t take that long to get a great workout. One option is high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which allows you to work out in 15 minute or less.
HIIT works with any type of exercise, although people usually choose cardio exercises. How it works is simple – you alternate between high-intensity periods of exercise and low-intensity rest periods. The key is that you need to push yourself to at least 90 percent of your ability during the high-intensity periods. If you’re running, a sample HIIT workout would be 15 seconds of sprinting followed by 45 seconds of light jogging, repeated five to 10 times.
A popular type of HIIT is Tabata training, where you perform eight sets of one exercise, with each set consisting of 20 seconds of high intensity work followed by 10 seconds of low intensity work. With this type of training, it takes just four minutes to work out.
There’s also circuit training, where you go through a series of exercises without stopping. If you perform circuit training with bodyweight exercises, you have a workout that you can do in your living room to build muscle and improve your cardio.
Make Your Social Activities More Active
People often default to bars and restaurants when socializing, but there is much more you can do when you’re on a date or hanging out with friends. Here are several options that will be available in most cities:
- Spend a day at the park
- Go on a hike
- Play a sport, such as tennis, basketball, golf or racquetball
- Take an exercise class, such as yoga or martial arts
Set Up a Home Workout Area
Maybe you don’t have time to go to the gym every day. Solve that problem by dedicating an area of your home to working out. Apartments in the city aren’t exactly known for having an abundance of space, especially if you live in an area with high rents, such as New York or San Francisco. That doesn’t mean you’re out of luck, though, as it doesn’t take much space to exercise.
All you need is a bit of floor space to perform squats, lunges, pushups, sit ups and many other body weight exercises. Kitchen counters are a great place to perform dips. There’s also plenty of exercise equipment that you can fit into a small area. You could get a pullup bar that slips onto a door frame. You can use resistance bands, medicine balls and kettle bells with very little space. Get creative with how you use your environment and you’ll find plenty of exercises you can do in your spare time at home instead of watching TV.
Create a Workout Schedule
Finding ways to work out is easy enough. The challenge is doing it consistently. To make yourself more likely to stick with it, plan your days in advance and schedule when you’re going to work out. When you write down what you’re going to do, you’re far more likely to actually follow through with it.
Figure out what time during your day you’ll be able to work out and put it in your planner. Maybe you have free time immediately before or after work. If not, perhaps you can perform Tabata training or go for a bike ride on your lunch break. Even if you plan to just perform exercises whenever you have free time throughout the day, plan it as much as possible. For example, you could put in your planner that you want to complete one set of a bodyweight exercise during each of your breaks throughout the day.
There are plenty of small adjustments you can make to stay healthy. Choose the ones that work best with your life and over time you will see dramatic results.