Even Grey Cup winners drag their butts sometimes.
Two-time CFL all-star Tommy Europe, 47, admits as much. Now retired, the defensive back-turned-fitness coach, actor and TV host is more than familiar with mid-afternoon slumps while working in his home office.
That’s when Tommy unleashes his secret weapon: The staircase. “Just getting up and moving around is one of my main motivators,” he says. “Getting the blood flowing knocks me out of that fog and gives me a burst of energy to get through whatever I’m doing. I run up and down the stairs, do a few jumping jacks or pushups, and I feel the benefits immediately.”
Over time, he adds, these easy bursts do much more than fight off fatigue. “Being active, even for 10 minutes a day, helps me stay healthy and strong. A healthy lifestyle improves everything in my life: My mood, my mind, my work, my relationships, the time I spend with my wife and daughters…staying active is a big part of making it all work.”
What does Tommy do to be more active at work? To be more active at home? To be more active pretty much anywhere he wants? Let’s start with those stairs…
Tip No. 1: Use what you got
“Stairs are everywhere, they cost nothing to climb, and they’re a great way to get your heart rate up,” Tommy says, adding that brisk uphill walks are another of his go-to body movers. “If you work in an office building, bypass the elevator and take the stairs.”
Stair-climbing, after all, is a simple exercise that strengthens the biggest muscles in our legs. It burns around 10 calories per minute, so if a climb takes five minutes, and you make the climb twice a day, you can burn 100 calories and slide a 10-minute workout seamlessly into your day.
Tip No. 2: Challenge yourself
As a fitness coach, Tommy often advises his commuter clients to park farther from their offices than they normally would so they can get some quick and easy exercise by walking to their desks. “Then they start pushing themselves to beat their walking time each day,” he explains. “It’s amazing what this little trick can do.”
Tip No. 3: Find your time zone
“I feel less like being active as the day wears on, so I get it done in the morning,” Tommy says. “It’s a lot easier to get active when you feel like getting active. Don’t leave it till the end of the day — that is, unless you’re an end-of-the-day person.”
Tip No. 4: Get your Zs
“You’ll have more energy to get active if you get enough sleep,” Tommy advises. “Shooting for seven hours, or eight if you can get it, is awesome.”
Sleep is awesome in many other ways. Getting enough helps improve self-control and focus, lowers the risk of depression, helps you drop body fat and keeps your appetite in check. Last but definitely not least, sleep can help you live longer, as it has also been shown to reduce stress, which can help lower your blood pressure.
Tip No. 5: Reward yourself
Whether it’s a post-activity snack or some lazy you-time — watching football on the couch, for instance, or knocking back a brew with your buddies — “striving for a short-term goal is a great motivator,” Tommy says. Pretty soon, he adds, the work that goes into those short-term rewards adds up to something much greater: Improved health. “Generally,” Tommy observes, “I find that healthy people are happier people.”
In partnership with the Canadian Football League Alumni Association
Photography by: Ken Cheng
Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and father of two. His award-winning stories have appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and National Post newspapers, in magazines like Explore, Reader’s Digest, International Traveller and Canadian Family, and on websites including MSN, MSN Canada, and DontChangeMuch.ca. Visit Adam’s website for more details on his award winning work.