We all know that physical activity is good for us, but it can be a challenge to fit fitness into a busy schedule. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults accumulate 150 minutes of moderate (or 75 minutes of vigorous) physical activity every week. This may seem like a lot, but every minute adds up! Activity bursts of five minutes here and there throughout your day accumulate to help you reach your movement goals. Here are three simple ways to add more movement to your day!
Set an Alarm Use an app on your smart phone or set periodic appointments on your calendar to remind yourself to stand up at least once every hour. Movement breaks can include standing to stretch, a quick walk around your office, or some chair squats to really get the blood flowing!
Be an Ele-voider If you think you don’t have time to take the stairs, think again! A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that taking the stairs rather than waiting for the elevator saved about 15 minutes each workday. That’s a 3% savings of time per workday, which could translate into more productivity as well as increased fitness.
Take Your Breaks Break times and lunch hours are the perfect opportunity to get some movement in! Make it a goal to get up and walk for 10-15 minutes each day during lunch. After the work week you will have added 50-75 minutes of activity to your weekly total! The added bonus is that mid-day activity has been shown to boost mood and increase one’s ability to manage stress.
There are lots of reasons we don’t move much. Truth is…most of them are excuses. Our bodies are built to move
not to mold into an office chair or recliner. Make a resolution to move more. Any chance you get, you move! Your body will thank you.
What’s your favorite way to put more action into your day?
Are you with me? Last night I looked at my activity tracker at 10:00 p.m. and it read 3256 steps. I sighed. I did not leap up and walk in place. I did not chastise myself. I did not list the reasons for so few steps. I just sighed. I have a bad case of the doldrums. It’s actually difficult to remember the last surge of real energy I have felt. Some would call this the doldrums, some the winter blues. Either way, it just feels like marking time till things get magically better.
Well enough! Here are some tips to get you out of the doldrums
What is your favorite way to dump the doldrums?
Hibernating this winter? Had enough of the snow, ice, and sub-zero weather? Are the kids turning on you? Stop! When winter weather forces you indoors it’s time to deal with all that pent-up energy. Find creative ways to get and stay active
during these cold months. It’s a challenge, but you can conquer those winter doldrums!
So, before you settle into the recliner tonight… consider these ideas
- Create a home gym with easy-to-use, affordable equipment (soup cans, detergent bottles, balance ball, jump rope, resistance bands, kitchen chair, stairs, doorframe, broom …)
- Get outside once a day but dress for cold weather
- Do your chores to music – step up and MOVE
- Be healthy – clean out your pantry; check those food product dates
- Walk the mall or the airport (if you are traveling)
- Stay Active
- Read or listen to a book
- Play a board game; set a puzzle
- Check out these Ways to Keep Kids Busy Indoors
- A few more ideas…Treasure Hunts, Indoor Obstacle Course, Dance Off and more!
And remember…spring is coming!
this week. I had to search for a bed quilt, coat, and socks; things I haven’t seen since May; my feet screamed. It got me thinking…am I “road worthy” for winter? I know I’m ready for the fun things; I’m not so sure I am road worthy for challenges like staying active, winter sports, countering sugar with good nutrition, and fending off the flu and colds
…just to name a few. I’m not even sure I can withstand a cold, late-night football game! So, here are some tips on becoming “road worthy” and for staying radiantly healthy
- Find your winter clothes NOW; remember how to dress in layers; get out your flashlight, gloves, boots, hat, hand warmers…
- Keep moving – treat your senses to fall; walk in the leaves, cycle the streets, take a hike, visit a park; get outside and breathe in fall
- Schedule your activity time; put it on the calendar just like you do any other important event
- Get a flu shot…and just in case, lay in a supply of Kleenex and cold decongestants
- Sign up for a new fitness class or sport, one that can be learned and practiced indoors during the cold weather
- Get 10,000 steps a day; use the stairs, stand at your desk, walk during breaks or lunch time…have a walking meeting; go out of your way to move
- Manage your stress level; being indoors during the winter plays havoc with stress. Meditate, do yoga, read for enjoyment, spend quality time with family
- Know your why; it’s easier to stay motivated if you have a reason beyond the moment
- Watching more TV? Stay in motion at least during the commercials. Do lunges, stretches, and free weights
- Holiday hint: Portion Control. It starts with Halloween!!
What’s your best “road worthy” tip for fall?
No time for the gym, for a run, or for a dog walk? Housewalking could be your thing! Housewalking is literally walking around your house whenever you can.
It’s practical, available, affordable, requires no child care, no fitness trainer, no special clothing…and it can be done in all kinds of weather! Have you considered the irony of paying a membership fee to walk somewhere else when you have perfectly good floors at home? Think about it.
Here’s how you start
- Get a fitness tracker to track your steps and calories burned
- Get a spill-proof water bottle to carry around
- Decide: do you want to walk in place or around your house; either works
- Decide: which of your at-home activities should be automatic walking opportunities?
- Put an “are you walking?” note in areas where you typically just stand or sit…the recliner, the stove, the sink, the fridge
- Set a goal – try to rack up 500 steps each time you housewalk
- Examples of housewalking opportunities: on the phone, watching TV, cooking, brushing your teeth, listening to music, cleaning
- Get friends involved – start a challenge
- Make it FUN!
Share your experience housewalking!
Having all your best “moves” for after work? Stop it! Move throughout your day. Simple movements bring great benefits
to the body. So stand up, stretch, walk to the printer, walk the hallways, wiggle, get up to answer the phone or turn on/off the TV, use door handles instead of automated buttons. Fidget, sit sideways, dance…do something! Remember all those times your Mom said “settle down” or “sit still”? Erase those words from your memory. Saving your energy and bursts of activity for evenings, weekends, the gym, or a special event is just silliness. We are built to move all day long
. So get unplugged from all your technology and bust a move; shake it up. Dance is a great way to exercise
– it’s fun and can be done in the privacy of your own home! Dance while you clean, while you move from room to room, while you cook. Warn your neighbors if you plan to dance while doing yard work; it will cut down on “those looks”. If house dancing is not your thing, get out there and join a dance group. Heirloom Dance Studios
and USA Dance
are great places to start in Boise. There are similar opportunities across the state. Please share names of dance organizations you are aware of in your area.
What is your favorite way to move throughout the day?
]It’s a pretty common challenge. There’s always something more important to do… Oddly, I do find time to sit and watch TV or play video games. Sound familiar? If this challenge hits home with you, try creating your own home workout area. You can still watch TV and play video games and
you can be physically active while you do it! Shop for equipment at garage sales, second-hand stores, or your local big box store. Here’s some simple workout equipment
for your workout area.
- A set of 3-pound weights or cans; use while on the phone, while seated on a stability ball, while watching TV
- A sturdy chair or stool
- A yoga mat and foam roller – watch your favorite show from the floor!
- A stability ball; there’s one at nearly every garage sale! Stability balls bring on laughter while strengthening muscles
- A set of elastic thera-bands; they come in different colors/strengths and they’re great for stretching while sitting or standing
- Don’t care for thera-bands? Choose exercise bands with handles on the ends
- If simple is what you want, forget all the equipment and plug in a walking DVD. In 15 minutes or less you can have a good little workout (these are great for the office as well!)
- Broom handles are good tools to use across your shoulders, draping your arms over the tops then slowly stretching your waist and sides
- Stationary bikes are perfect for TV watching. Be sure you get a good fit for your back and your posterior; it’s got to be comfortable for you. Many stationary bikes are more affordable than a year’s gym membership!
- Don’t forget your measuring tools: pedometer, tape measure, scale, BP monitor, tracking sheet
So, no excuses! Time is a-wasting! We tend to think we will somehow magically have more time in the future. Not so. The time is NOW. Move it.
What simple resource do you use at home to exercise or stretch? How do you make it easy?
Fidget. Do a desk-top drum roll. Shrug your shoulders. Turn your head left and right. Walk to your neighbor’s cubicle. Do stapler arm curls or chair leg-lifts. Stand on one foot. Dance it out. Just put it in motion. Make it your motto – “Seated for 60? Up for 3!” A general lack of movement or physical inactivity may be as deadly as smoking.
It’s true. Putting your body on “stall” is damaging. Letting it sit and idle all day while working is poisonous to your health. To top it off, if your belly is growing,
your work performance may be shrinking. All good reasons to get up and move! A sedentary office job is no excuse. Use the time you sit in a chair
to do some discrete exercises. Stop waiting for a trip to the gym, or an evening walk, or some great inspiration – just start moving! Get your co-workers involved. Share the activity you do to keep yourself moving at work.
There are many day-to-day things I take for granted. My heart is one of them. I met my heart last summer during an echocardiogram. I was amazed. I could see it and hear it. I watched the blood flow in and out. It was a bit like meeting a best friend, but a friend I had ignored for some time. That afternoon I took my heart to the gym. We “talked” in the car on the way over about stress and nutrition – and mostly about the “e” word – exercise. I vowed to pay more attention, and I have. So, how’s your relationship with your heart? It’s American Heart Month and a perfect time to renew that friendship. You can start by using some of the great tips on Heart Health. Attend one of the heart health workshops this month. Get your cholesterol checked. Don’t just sit there; put a little heart in your day. February is a good month to re-kindle your friendship with your heart.
The next time you feel like falling into the recliner or perching yourself comfortably with your laptop, smart phone, tablet or whatever… STOP! Take it outside. In fact, take the whole family outside. Put down the remotes, put away the technology, turn off the power. Unplug. There’s a whole world waiting for your family – outside. Unplug and Be Outside is happening across Idaho in April and May. Try a new activity. Have a family contest. Each family member can choose an activity for everyone to try – rock climbing, golf, fishing, bike rodeo, geocaching, star gazing, camping, belly dancing, hockey, zumba, ice skating, gardening…and the list goes on! Come on – reconnect with the earth. Take it outside!
How does your family “take it outside” and be active?
Had enough of the snow, ice, and sub-zero weather? Are the kids and animals turning on you? Winter weather forces us indoors with lots of moaning and groaning and pent-up energy. Here are some ways to use that pent up energy. For your little kids
, Parents.com promotes 11 Fun Activities When Winter Weather Traps You Indoors
– not a bad list of things to get the little ones focused on something fun. For your older kids
, create an indoor skating rink, play freeze play or do mirror dancing. Lots more great ideas on Examiner.com. For your pets
, throw a nerf ball, play tug-of-war, hide treats, use a laser pointer. Get dogs outside for a brief walk; it doesn’t have to be long, just enough time for them to experience another world. Pets can get destructive when they don’t have stimulation or outside time. More great ideas on keeping your pet active and fit indoors
is on Petfinder. For you
, look at “winter confinement” as a gift! Remember what it was like to read a good book? Now you have time. Get members of your family involved and read aloud, or create your own home-bound family book club. Always wanted to try new, healthy vegetable recipes? Now is the time to go online or scour your cookbooks and magazines for healthy alternatives. Walking DVD’s
are great for winter weather; get off the couch, plug in the DVD, and get a mile under your belt in 15 minutes. How about your own DIY project? BuzzFeed
has insanely easy fun projects that even I can manage! This is my new favorite website. I’m going to make a firefly jar….
What are your ideas for staying active indoors?
Good health is a journey. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the destination and give up on the journey. The reality is, simple choices make a difference. Changing a single health habit can result in huge wellness payoffs for you. Think about it. Choose any one
of the items below and change just that habit this coming year. You will be light years ahead with your health.
- Go to bed! Get ½ hour to an hour more sleep than you are currently getting
- Floss your teeth – daily
- Brush your teeth – twice daily, not once but twice
- Move it, move it, move it throughout the day. Stand more, walk more, fidget more. Don’t save it for the gym.
- Wear your seat belt, always.
- Make an appointment for that one preventive health check you have been avoiding
- Give up the tobacco
- Do something every day that brings you pleasure…read, laugh, sing, nap, meditate, relax
- Buy a good pair of walking shoes and use them
- Know your blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose numbers; write them down
- We are what we eat. Cut back on one of your less healthy food addictions…sweets, fats, breads…
- Sugary drinks are just plain bad. Stop it.
At the end of every day think of the simple, good health choices you made and pat yourself on the back, say it out loud…or journal it. It’s a known fact that we get more of what we concentrate our thoughts on. If you focus on the positive choices you made, you will get more positive behaviors. If your focus remains on your negative choices, you may just stay stuck!
What simple health choices are you planning for 2013?
Apps are everywhere. There’s an app for anything and everything from aging bodies to talking tom cats. Here’s a few health-related apps to help you make good health choices. Check them out…
What’s your favorite health app?
Yes, there is a name for it…Sitting Disease. If you are sitting while you read this, you may suffer with the condition. Our culture has shifted more and more to knowledge-based work – and we all shifted more and more into our chairs. We spend hours sitting at the desk, in the car, and in the recliner at home. Most of us look for the easiest and least time consuming way to get something done. Time and effort have become our drivers, not our bodies, not our health.
Want to improve your life expectancy and your health? Get up! We are built to move, not to sit. Get a pedometer, stand or walk while you talk on the phone, use the stairs, park in the furthest
parking spot. Become more ‘chair free’! Check out these 11 Simple Solutions
. Remember…movement is medicine. Get out there; shake it up. Use your body.
Resources I have used:
- Workrave.org customize this computer desktop reminder; it’s not a memory hog so it lives well on your desktop
- Leslie Sansone Walk at Home, Burn Body Fat, DVD, 1, 2, and 3 mile walks ($9.99). I use this in my office at break or over the noon hour. These power walks are 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and 45 minutes. Choose the walk that fits your mood.
- Fitbit a great way to track movement including steps; they also have a new pedometer called the Zip