Get fit on the go
Back to work after the holidays and no time to exercise? Turn your time on public transport into a training session with six easy moves
Boost your fitness while you travel on public transport.
Tapping into your daily commute is a great way to find time to train and get something out of travelling to work. Studies show the average commuter spends around 54 minutes a day travelling so, if you’re stuck on the train or bus, making the experience more active is a great way to bust boredom as well as compensate for missed gym appointments. ‘It’s easy to fit cardio and muscle toning into your daily schedule,’ says Savio Los, London PT and co-founder of London Fitness Tour (londonfitnesstour.com). Can’t cycle or run to work? Try these expert fitness tricks and tips while you travel.
1. HANG ON IN THERE
Holding onto an overhead strap on a crowded tube? Waiting for the proverbial three buses in a row to turn up? Isometric exercises will help you tone up, whatever public transport is doing. ‘Isometric exercise – a type of strength training in which the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction – can strengthen muscles, shed fat and tone your body by focusing on specific muscles, even when you’re not moving,’ says Los. ‘Most core-conditioning exercises, yoga postures and Pilates exercises are isometric.’ Standing still, open up your shoulders, straighten your legs, contract your butt and abs for at least 15 seconds, then release and contract again. You can use isometric exercises to work your arms as well if you’re holding a bar or strap on the tube or bus. Tense your the muscles in your arm for 15 seconds, then change hands and repeat on the other side, always while contracting the rest of your body as well.
2. WALK AND TONE
‘Maximising two of the most basic actions – breathing and walking – will help get you into shape while you travel,’ says Los. When walking to the station or going from one meeting to the next, increase your step speed, then enhance the benefits by combining a double breathing technique with muscle contractions. ‘The London Walk is all about using your diaphragm correctly when you breathe – not only does this work your abs, it allows a much larger quantity of oxygen into your lungs, which contributes to your general health and wellbeing,’ adds Los. ‘The first step is to become conscious about how you breathe, then start breathing into your belly. Next, use a double breathing technique while you walk and let your breathing guide your pace. Breathe in with your nose twice and breathe out with your mouth twice and, as you do so, feel your abs and contract them for an incredibly effective abs workout.’
3. RIDE THE TUBE
Improving your core stability and balance is essential for boosting your general fitness and reducing your risk of injury, says Alfie Wren, elite trainer at Third Space health club (thirdspace.london). ‘The aim of this game is to try to stand for your entire tube journey without holding onto any of the rails, using the stops as rest periods. Stand with your feet in a wide stance to give yourself a bigger base (more stability) and engage your core while staying relaxed. Allow your body to self-adjust while the train bucks and weaves. Want to make it harder? Bring your feet closer together to reduce your stability. Do this and you’ll be running faster and lifting heavier in no time.’
4. CLIMB NEW HEIGHTS
Use the 65 per cent gradient of stairs to your advantage. Running up them will have you out of puff in no time, and stabiliser muscles such as your gluteus medius (in your butt) have to work hard while you’re on one leg.
If there are too many people around to allow you to run, simply vary the way you walk up stairs. ‘You can work your thighs or calves,’ says Los. ‘Alternate between these two exercises to get your dream legs: walk on your toes to work your calves and butt – place your foot on the edge of the step and push yourself up with your calf. Or take two steps at a time to boost thigh strength and up the cardio workout.’
5. HOLD TIGHT
‘Contracting your buttocks when walking will help you tone them up, but it’ll also make you walk faster,’ says Los. Start by stepping forwards with your right leg and focus on your left leg. As you extend your right leg, contract your left cheek at the same time. This will also make you rotate your hips and walk in a much more confident way, apart from increasing your speed. Repeat the same with your right side. Alternate the butt contraction 20 times, then relax and keep walking. ‘Combine this with the double breathing technique so you simultaneously tone your abs and your butt,’ adds Los.
6. FEEL THE SQUEEZE
If you travel to or from work outside the main rush hour and are feeling brave, you could try a less subtle exercise that may turn a few heads! National wrestling champion and owner of Right Path Fitness (rightpathfitness.co.uk) Kevin McNiven recommends this cheeky wall squat move for a quieter commute. ‘Stand with your head and back against a wall and feet shoulder-width apart. Step your feet out until they’re about 45cm from the wall, keeping your arms by your sides. Lower your body into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold this position for as long as you can. Do two to three sets, with 30 seconds’ rest between.’