With the new year quickly approaching, there’s no better time to start planning your fitness resolutions. It doesn't have to be rigorous or heavy. But a simple start can lead to better health and more strength for you in the long run. Who knows? You might just be able to complete one of the world's most brutal obstacle courses, the Spartan Race, like Singaporean influencers Xinlin Khaw and Novita Lam. They were challenged to an 'Xtreme Quest' by Blue Ant Extreme, the channel for adrenaline-pumping entertainment.
No pressure, of course. Baby steps definitely count! So if you're looking to get more active in the new year — even though you're pressed for time — take inspiration from the two, who juggled their full-time jobs with a rigorous diet and fitness training, and try these realistic ways to get healthy.
Bike on your commute
Shared bicycles are readily available almost everywhere so why not use them to the office? Cycling improves cardiovascular and aerobic fitness, builds muscle, and improves coordination. If your office is a tad too far, you can skip the bus and ride to your nearest train station. Bonus: Aside from the health benefits, it also keeps you away from the morning crowd.
Walk it out
Too busy for a run? Try speed walking. Walking is one of the easiest ways to get fit and maintain heart health. Did you know that you can burn up to 200 calories in 30 minutes while speed walking? Start incorporating brisk walking into your daily commute by alighting two bus stops before your destination and walk home after work.
Opt for the stairs
Did you know that climbing the stairs burns more calories than jogging? According to research, you burn 15 calories per three flights of stairs. So, whether you’re on your way to the train platform, office or home, ditch the elevator and take the stairs instead. Not only will you burn calories and fats, climbing the stairs will build muscles and increase stamina and energy.
Take active breaks
Warning to the office workers: Sitting in the office for long periods can take a toll on your body; it slows down your metabolism and puts you at a higher risk of heart disease and obesity. Aim for a five- to 10-minute break every one to two hours of working and take a short walk around your office building or climbing the stairs. If your office allows it, squeeze in a 20-minute workout at a nearby gym.
Join a group fitness class
Imagine walking into a class of supportive, like-minded individuals and an encouraging instructor; there’s no way you’ll feel unmotivated. Group fitness is a great way to constantly keep yourself motivated and accountable for your workouts. Join a class and start pushing yourself.
Snack on nuts
Put away that bag of chips lying in your office pantry. Instead, grab a handful of almonds for your mid-afternoon snack. Almonds contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. They are a good source of energy, too.
Healthy doesn’t have to be expensive
You may be tempted to order that delicious plate of nasi lemak but did you know that one serving of it contains around 600 calories? That’s the equivalent to almost one hour of running. Stay away from temptation and opt for healthier options. Some pocket-friendly and guilt-free meals from your local hawker include sliced fish soup, Teochew porridge, thunder tea rice, popiah, yong tau foo, ban mian, wanton noodles and mee soto — all under 500 calories. If you need coffee, remember to opt for a Kopi O Kosong (coffee without milk and sugar).
After a long day at work, ordering from McDonald's is probably the fastest way to get your dinner fix, but definitely not the healthiest. With one-pan recipes, such as Broccoli Fried Rice or Tuna Pasta, you, too, can whip up a healthy meal under 30 minutes.
Start eating slowly
Have you been told to chew your food longer before swallowing? Eating quickly often leads to overeating as your brain doesn’t have enough time to receive fullness signals, hence, leading to potential weight gain. Most foods take at least 20 minutes to digest. Eating slowly gives our brain time to receive these signals and helps you feel more full. Eating slowly also improves digestion and nutrient-absorption into the body.
Keep your bottle close
Stay hydrated and away from sugary drinks by carrying a water bottle with you at all times. Thirst can often be mistaken for hunger as well. So the next time you’re feeling hungry, reach for your bottle before you reach for a chocolate bar.