Source:  Lifestyle, Her World, 07 SEP 2018 © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

When we think of exercise, what often comes to mind is sweating it out in the blazing sun, panting for a long time afterwards, then aching all over. But there isn’t always a need to do a strenuous workout in order to reap the rewards; little bouts of exercise add up to a significant amount at the end of every day. The Singapore Physical Activity Guidelines advises us to aim for at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity every week. The health benefits include a reduced risk of chronic illness such as heart diseases and diabetes, as well as promoting mental well-being and reducing stress and anxiety through the release of endorphins.

Here are 13 ways to do this.

1. Set a 'no car day'

If you drive to work (and everywhere else), set a day or two each week as 'no car day'. This doesn't mean you take a taxi or book a Grab instead; use this opportunity to get some brisk walking done. Hop on a bus or MRT and brisk walk to and from the stations. Bonus tip for drivers: when you do drive, always try to park at the furthest car park or parking spot from your destination and do a brisk walk to and from it each time.

2.  Take the stairs

This sounds like a no-brainer but it's not something that many of us do as it does require a bit of an effort – plus you have to make sure you're at your destination a few minutes early so you'll have time to take the stairs then compose yourself before you walk into the office or a meeting. Start by taking the lift to the floor below and take the stairs to the next floor. As you work your way up (and down) one floor at a time, you'll find that you'll be conquering the journey easily in a matter of time.

3.  Get off the bus early

If the bus is your preferred mode of transport, don't let it take you all the way to and from your destination. Get off the bus one stop early and do a brisk walk the rest of the way. If you're going home, you could even run all the way home from this bus stop – then jump in the shower as soon as you're home. Don't take any short cuts, pick the longest route possible for the most benefits.

4.  Join a running group

It doesn't matter if you are already running as a form of exercise, joining a running group will give you more motivation as doing this activity alone might get mundane after a while. Search for one online to have company when you run.

5.  Look for special deals

Peruse various local deal sites to find fitness deals on activities such as Yoga and Pilates classes, as well as fitness passes to gyms in Singapore.

HPB's Sunrise In The City programme allows you to choose over 60 workout sessions at over 30 locations – for free. Classes include Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, HIIT, Jumping Fitness, KpopX fitness and more, at locations such as True Fitness, Fitness First and Real Yoga. Check out the available classes on the Healthy 365 app.

6.  Find more reasons to go to the gym

Going to the gym doesn't just have to be about getting fit; your gym sessions could also be your perfect 'alone time' where you get to catch up on music, books and podcasts. Listening to audio books while working out will extend your concentration level and make time pass quicker so you'll end up working out more – and not even notice.

Don't let your Crazy Rich Asians obsession end with the movie – catch up on all three books in the series. Get hooked on the saga of The Handmaid's Tale (read by Claire Danes) or find out all about Trevor Noah's life in Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, written and read by the man himself. Almost every book is available in audio form these days so find a genre you love and explore new titles.

Podcasts are also recommended and what you choose depends on what mood you're in. Get inspired by Oprah's Super Soul Conversations, where Ms Winfrey interviews someone she admires in each episode, or tune in to The School of Greatness, where former athlete and bestselling author Lewis Howes shares inspiring stories from the likes of Ariana Huffington, Maria Sharapova and Cesar Millan.

7.  Go to the supermarket

While we do love online shopping, there's something about walking around a supermarket, checking out new products and coming up with interesting meal ideas. But this isn't the only reason you should go to a physical store to do your weekly shop – walking while carrying grocery bags is a great form of exercise, so why not get in an extra workout while stocking up your pantry? This activity burns fat and works parts of your body, like your arms and legs. You could also jog home with your grocery bags, if you're game.

8.  Don't be idle during ad breaks

You might be doing something lazy like watching TV but it doesn't mean you have to be sedentary the whole time. Do simple exercises such as burpees or crunches or make it fun with some hip hop dancing.

9.  Get moving at work

Have an important phone meeting? Walk around the office (or conference room) while chatting. Need to ask your colleague a quick question? Walk over to her desk instead of instant messaging or emailing.

You could also exercise in the office. Do seated crunches by sitting up straight while keeping your core engaged, raise your right knee slightly, then lower it. Repeat 10 times then switch legs and repeat the movement 10 times. Do three sets on each leg. Or use a low footstool for seated stepping exercises - start with your feet on the floor on either side of the stool, step up and down on alternate feet while seated. Do three sets of 10 steps on each foot. Seated push-ups are also easily done at your desk - grip your arm rests with both hands and keep your feet flat on the floor. Then use your arms to push your bottom off the seat; your feet should remain on the ground while you do this. Do three sets of 10.  

10.  Go to the park

Don't always go to a restaurant for catch-up sessions with your friends, meet at a park and go for a walk together and catch up while you're walking. Swap your regular Sunday brunch sessions with more vigorous workouts such as Zumba and KpopX Fitness at HPB's free Sundays @ The Park programme.

If you don't enjoy the sticky weather, meet at a mall instead and speed walk while you shop and catch up. Or you could join HPB’s mall workouts programme and get some exercise in before shopping and chatting. For more information, click here.

11.  Start the day right

Get some stretches, crunches or squats in as soon as you get out of bed in the morning. You'll feel better the rest of the day even if you don't manage to do any other exercise.

12.  Do more housework

Make housework more fun by vacuuming and scrubbing vigorously so you'll get extra exercise. If you have a car, wash it yourself instead of taking it to the car wash. You might feel like complaining about the amount of housework you have to do but your health will thank you for it in the long run.

13.  Be an active (in every way) volunteer

Devote some time in the evenings or weekends contributing to society while getting some exercise too, such as volunteering with the NEA (includes cleaning up Singapore) or the SPCA if you're an animal lover (jobs include cleaning the animal enclosures).

If you can't commit so much time, start by helping that elderly neighbour with some simple household chores or that frazzled mum three doors down who needs a helping hand babysitting her boisterous children.

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.

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