'Habits' have a bad name, and whenever we think about habits we tend to think of the bad ones like 'smoking', 'drinking' or just biting out nails. However a habit needn't necessarily be something unhealthy, and the definition of habits simply means that they need to be something that we do regularly – and for most of us these habits become almost unconscious – things that we do by impulse and without thought as a result of having done so for years. This makes habits hard to break and something we do a lot. At the very least they would be routine and so mundane.
So if you had good habits, that were healthy or productive, then this would actually be a very good thing and would be something that you could use to make a positive impact on your life without even thinking about it. If you could develop the kinds of habits that made you fit then this would ensure that you actually did them and that they actually made a difference. Too often our intentions to get into shape are blighted through the sheer fact that we put off actually going through with them (due to time constraints or just lethargy), or even that we simply forget to do them – but if they were habits that were a part of our routine or unconscious little behaviors then that wouldn't be a problem and we'd find we were able to keep doing them in all manner of circumstances. Here we will look at some of the best habits that can improve your health and improve your fitness – get into the habit of following these and you'll start to see improvements in your health and physique.
And wait – there's another benefit to this kind of training too. This sort of training is the kind that you fit in around your other daily activities and that means that you are working out or eating well throughout the day. In turn this then means that you will be keeping your body in a more constant state of exertion throughout the day rather than working out for short periods and then resting.
In terms of fitness the former method is the best way to reduce fat and to increase your cardiovascular fitness and muscle tone. In the wild we would not have had gyms, rather we would have trained constantly by tracking our quarry for miles (humans used long distance running and tracking as their ace-card to pray on faster animals) and climbing over trees and mounds to get around. This would mean that your heart rate would be higher for the majority of the day – burning fat throughout, and that your body would be more consistently in an 'anabolic state' which is a state where growth hormone and other chemicals would encourage your body to build muscle and to burn energy.
Forget the Car
Part of our daily routine will almost invariably mean traveling somewhere – whether it's driving to work or to school, or getting the bus to a friend. Either way if you're driving then you're sitting down and not exerting yourself and that means that you're not exercising. So swap this with walking, running, cycling or even roller-blading and suddenly you can lose muscle and tone up on the way there. This will help you to build muscle in your legs most of all, but by getting your heart pumping you will burn fat and improve your cardiovascular fitness. You might arrive at work a little out of breath and sweaty though, so make sure that you leave early enough to give yourself time to change into a spare set of clothes.
Take the Stairs
Then, when you arrive in your building, the next important way to improve your health is to climb the stairs to get to your office rather than to take the lift. This is only a very shot piece of exercise that doesn't take too much time or energy, but nevertheless as you are climbing upwards you will be able to use this to strengthen your quadriceps and to get your heart rate up a notch.
Train Your Forearms
Your forearms are incredibly easy to train and they are something that you can do without anyone thinking you're gym obsessed. If you've ever seen one of those hand-grips that require you to squeeze two metal bars together then you will have a good idea of how these work – and they can be purchased and used very easily.
Don't want to buy the branded forearm trainers? Well then you can just as easily get the same workout from a firm ball by testing your strength squeezing it. It's also a great form of catharsis.
Bob Your Leg
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a condition where an individual constantly bounces their leg up and down on the spot while they are sitting at the table or in bed. This is a highly frustrating ailment and one that can be very distracting for everyone else, however it also has one firm advantage in that it means you are constantly moving and this is actually enough to burn quite a few calories throughout the day. If you are struggling with a weight problem, or just want to trim down, then mimicking this habit and bobbing around can actually help you to do just that. Of course it's also a slightly annoying habit to pick up if you can't stop though – so use with caution.
Take Hot Showers
You wouldn't think that showering could affect your fitness, but actually it can – by helping you to produce more growth hormone which in turn leads to fat burning and muscle building as well as the healing of wounds. And as an added bonus if you're young and your growth plates haven't closed over it will also help you to grow more (as the name might suggest).
Take Cold Showers
On the other hand though, cold showers can also be good for you in a couple of ways. One way that cold showers can improve your health and fitness is by training your immune system and this helps you to better fight colds and other illnesses. Meanwhile it will also increase your heart rate and cause you to shiver – again helping to strengthen your circulatory system and burn calories. Be careful when showering in extreme temperatures however to build up to the temperature slowly – doing it suddenly can be too much of a shock to your system and is dangerous particularly if you are overweight or above a certain age.
Do Pull Ups
A great rule to enforce in your house is that you have to do 10 pull ups before you enter the room each time. Get a pull up bar screwed into your doorway and this will ten become easy to enforce – if you're prone to forgetting then write a note on the door itself.
Do Calf Raises
Another great little exercise you can do wherever you are is calf raises. Here you simply raise up onto tip toes on one foot, or on both feet but with your heels starting off lower than the pavement. This is a great way to improve your calf strength and muscle tone as well as once again to train your cardiovascular system thus improving overall fitness. Find a curb and this is perfectly suited to doing calf raises. If you catch the bus regularly then get into the habit of doing this while you wait.
Use Dynamic Self Resistance/Static Contraction
If you like the idea of training throughout the day then there are plenty more exercises you can do that use you as the resistance. For instance with dynamic self resistance you pull against your own arm while going through a movement – for instance pulling down on your arm while you do curls with it against that pressure.
Meanwhile static contraction is any exercise that you do where you are tensing and working the muscle but not actually moving the limb. For instance it would be trying to curl the top of a table – or pushing hard against a wall. Again you can use your own body here – for instance pressing your hands together as hard as you can in front of your chest for a while is a great pecs workout. Another good one is while sitting to just push yourself forward so that your elbows are pushing into your knees. Push with your abs and this is almost as good as sit ups except you can do them on the train, on the bus, in the office or even on the throne. Failing all this even just tensing is quite a good workout – for men and women who are capable of making their pecs dance, try and get into the habit of doing this (when you're alone) as it's a good way to tone them up.
Cut Things Out
What we eat is largely habitual – the sugar we put in our tea, the butter we spread on our bread etc. If this ends up adding to our fat intake and causing cholesterol or if it has too many carbs and is causing weight gain, then cutting this out is a very good way to improve your physique. To do this, simply replace those bad habits with better ones – start having tea with no sugar (not sweetener which is almost as bad), bread without butter and a cereal bar instead of a chocolate bar. It's an easy habit to change too – just put the cereal bars where the chocolate bars used to be and when you used to reach for the chocolate bar you'll now reach for cereal instead.
Not alcohol of course, but water. Get into the habit of frequently hydrating yourself and you will help to thin your blood and detox your body of many problems. It's also a great way to feel good and refreshed – so once you start drinking a lot of water you'll find it's very easy to maintain as a habit.
And finally, while all these are great habits, nothing beats simply working out fully on a regular basis. It takes a while to get into the routine, but once this really does become habit it's a hard one to break and actually physically addictive.
Note: The general rule for forming new habits is that it takes 30 days – so if you want to pick up any of these as positive new habits, just try to practice them for thirty days and then you should find they become ingrained. Likewise it's thirty days to break a habit.