The Streets Are Your Playground

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Another running message you hear from me regularly is the unimportance of the gym to your actual overall health and wellness. Yes, the UNimportance.

This is a nice tool to realise and understand. Because if you tether your health and wellness to the amount of times you hit the gym, you can find yourself stressing about your health for no good reason.

Gym Time In The Big Scheme Of Things

Don’t get me wrong. I love the gym and think it’s an incredibly important part of being a rounded healthy individual. The ability to learn different things and build different skills is invaluable, as you can take that knowledge with you anywhere you go.

But it is not the be-all and end-all of what you need to do to be healthy. There are many other tools you can use outside the gym which can bring great value.

Let’s say you can hit the gym 4 times per week for an hour. That is already very good going and by far above average.

But 4 hours per week, assuming you are awake for 16 hours a day, is less than 1% of your waking hours.

So yes, the gym is important for your discipline. It’s important to practise skills you are learning. It’s important to surround yourself with other people who are trying to improve themselves.

But dare I say it, it is actually not essential. Although I am sure there are plenty of people who might push back on this comment. 

But I know how it is to live a busy executive lifestyle under immense pressure. So it’s important to see another nuanced side of things and how you can stay fit and active without the gym.

476 Hours vs 4 Hours Per Week

From the moment you wake to the moment you sleep, you have 480 hours of being awake to play with. And much of that waking life is moving from home to work, moving around the city on customer visits, and spending time at the office and home.

We forget how much time you actually have to move your body in different ways throughout the day. Of course if you can combine that movement with the gym you super charge your results. But there is plenty of time throughout the day to move your body in different ways.

For this blog I want to focus on the streets around us which we take for granted.

Speed Walk

My expertise is in the streets of Hong Kong, so forgive me for writing with a Hong Kong centric focus. But this theory can be applied to any city around the world.

When you walk through the streets, don’t dawdle. Don’t be a slow coach. Be above average, and use the opportunity to move fast and switch your brain on to speed walking.

Personally I love walking through Central at top speed. It keeps my brain alert as I need to move in and out of the slow moving crowds, and particularly avoid people who have their heads down looking at their phones.

You need to be on your toes to do this and ready to move from side to side at a moment’s notice. No doubt you would have experienced the walker who suddenly changes direction in front of you. Those are the best ones to really practise your lateral movement with as you need to suddenly side step them to avoid collision.

Hill Walks

When in Central, if you need to go up to Wyndham Street or beyond, do not use the escalator. Same for coming down, as there really is no need to stand on a downward moving escalator. This is a prime opportunity to move and use your legs.

The incline hill walk is a fantastic movement to engage and fully utilise your leg muscles.

Living in Hong Kong since 1991 I always had to walk up and down those hills and never had the luxury of an escalator. Man made technology has made us lazy. So let’s again put on our ancestral living hat and use our legs to move around just as we used to.

Walking vs Public Transportation

Depending where you are moving to and from, consider walking instead of transportation. 

My rule of thumb is if the destination is 2-3 stops on the MTR, then I walk. 

As an example, from Sheung Wan to Admiralty is a 20-25 minute walk. And as any good Hong Konger knows, there are plenty of aircon escape paths to use during the hot summer months by moving through the various shopping malls.

You can see many gym goers spending time walking on a machine during their lunch hour. So why not actually walk the streets instead throughout your day, incorporating extra steps to and from the office or to and from appointments.

Get Off The Bus or MTR at an Earlier Stop

A great tip to increase your movement and step count is to simply get off your bus or MTR stop before your closest location. This can be done to and from work, as well as to and from daily appointments.

This strategy only adds 5-10 minutes to each journey. So with some sensible planning, it’s another great tool to use to increase your movement without much time or effort.

Lunch Walks

After your lunch, go for a 10-15 minute walk. This has two favourable effects. 

Firstly and most obviously you add more movement and steps into your day.

Secondly, and possibly more importantly, walking after a meal helps with your digestion, which can also assist with any after lunch fatigue due to blood sugar crashes. 

This will depend on what you eat for lunch. But assuming carbohydrates are involved, it’s a great way to burn off that blood sugar before your pancreas needs to kick into action.

It’s this mechanism which brings the fatigue and after lunch energy crash. So why not give yourself a double benefit whammy and walk it off before heading back to the office, adding calorie burn as you go.

Conclusion

The gym is important, but it is not essential. There are other ways to move your body throughout the day, and using the Streets As Your Playground is a great tool to add into your repertoire.

Keep moving. Stay active. Live stronger. Live Longer.

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