Five ways to ... stay active while avoiding the gym

After a weekend of chocolate guzzling it could be time to burn off some calories. But you do not need the gym for this - many fitness experts now believe that the simplest and most sustainable way to keep fit is "integrative exercise" - in other words, "moving around more". The UK chief medical officer advises us to raise our heart-rates for 30minutes five times a week. Here are five ways to achieve this:

1 Break it down: it does not have to be 30 minutes all in one go. Studies show that several five- to 10-minute bursts of activity throughout a day "will improve your cardiovascular and respiratory health, lower your risk of diabetes and other diseases and improve your longevity," says Simon Till, chair of the British Association of Sports Medicine.

2 Start spring cleaning: vigorous housework or gardening or running for the bus all count when it comes to integrative exercise. And activity breeds activity so the more you move, the more you will want to move.

3 Get or borrow a dog: squats, sit-ups or other repetitive exercises target specific muscle groups but for overall fitness "brisk walking is the single most valuable exercise you can do," says Till.

4 "Talk Test" yourself: it is easy to slack if you do not have a personal trainer breathing down your neck, but if you can't comfortably hold a sustained conversation (or sing to yourself) during the activity then you know that you are working at a rate that has health benefits.

5 Set achievable mini-goals: exercise psychologists suggest setting shorter-term goals. Rather than thinking, "Thirty minutes a day for ever? No way", tell yourself that you are going to run for the bus just three times a week - that way you won't give up the whole idea if you skip a day.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.