Here in Aotearoa we are fortunate to be surrounded by an abundance of choices and opportunities that promote an active lifestyle. Knowing where to look and opening your mind to adopting new habits that support this lifestyle, may mean the difference between you sticking to it or not. At Fresh Start we believe a great way to encourage an active lifestyle is to up your walking, and utilise a device like a Fitbit, which do much more than just measure your steps (although this feature is very handy when you’re on a weight loss journey and are trying to get more movement in your day!).
The walking in New Zealand is world class. From the Great Walks to coastal walkways, mountain ranges to forest floors, even our suburban streets can be a great adventure. Using this resource to improve your health and fitness is an accessible, free and fantastic way to get out and explore. Walking to suit your ability is easy, with few restrictions on how you approach it. You can hike at any pace, elevation or distance and for any length of time (hours or days). Add a backpack for extra resistance or aid weary joints with trekking poles — hiking to your ability is easy to manage. This total body workout will strengthen leg muscles, build endurance and improve proprioception (the ability to sense the orientation of your body in the environment) whilst developing your balance. When climbing up hill, the body utilizes a combination of muscles such as the glutes, quads and calves, much like the dreaded stair master at the gym, only less mundane. Travelling downhill, these same muscles work to stabilise the knees and ankles but with a muscular contraction that resists the force of gravity, so although your lungs no longer feel the challenge, the muscles certainly keep on working.
If getting to a trail isn’t exactly in the schedule, there are plenty of urban options — find a hill or mountain, park or beachfront, or even just some of NZ’s good suburban footpaths close to your home or work and make a walking loop out of it. We love to pop on a good podcast, and take some time to ourselves. It’s a great way to start or end the day!
But the advantages of these outdoor pursuits don’t just extend themselves to the benefits of stretching the legs and lungs either. The nutritional gains of receiving a healthy dose of vitamin D through sensible sun exposure is necessary for the production and maintenance of our bones. New Zealand’s Ministry of Health claims around 5% of kiwis are deficient in vitamin D and a further 27% are below recommended levels. So, take a walk outside (even in winter!) and combine your fitness gains with a healthy dose of vitamins.
While you’re getting into a routine, think about ways to sneak extra steps into your day.
- Take the stairs! If you have the option to take the lift or the stairs, go for the climb. It’s an easy way to add more movement to your day.
- Using public transport? Jump off a stop early! It’s all about adding more steps into your day, getting your heart rate up. Plan for your commute to be a few minutes longer and hop off a stop prior — you’ll arrive at work feeling spritely and ready to go.
- Just walk it! If you drive, you’re probably in the habit of using your car more than you really need to. If you’re popping down the road, why not walk? A 15-minute stroll is excellent for your vitality… and saves you having to find a carpark!
- Work in an office? Stretch out! Try to do 100 steps every hour, it’s not too far, won’t take up too much time, and might even help you feel refreshed and better focused when you get back to your desk!
- Use a Fitbit to record your steps. The beauty of a Fitbit on your wrist is that you know when you need to add more steps in your day to hit your goals, rather than leaving it to guesswork. The Fitbit app (which anyone can download, not just Fitbit owners) also now has Premium features which are free for 90 days including nutrition and hundreds of video workouts you can do from home. Fitbit also has a great blog we recommend you check out here, with an Eat Well section containing tips and strategies that will help guide you towards a happier and healthier lifestyle.
Meet the Nutritionist
Our in-house nutritionist Emma ‘Edamame’ was born and bred in mid Canterbury and has the health and wellbeing of Kiwis in mind at all times. As an NZ registered nutritionist (NZ Nutrition Society) with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science from the University of Auckland, she makes sure we’re all getting our fresh dose of local veggies and our meals are full of nutritious substance – thanks for having our back Em (and our waistlines!). When it comes to New Zealand produce, Emma is a whizz, with fresh berries being her absolute fave. Intrigued to know what food this nutritionist couldn’t live without? Fresh fish and seafood, delivering on both flavour and nourishment. As well as ice cream, especially real fruit ice creams, in the summer time! Life’s all about a tasty balance, right?