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?
It’s finally here. I thought I would never see green plant life again after this winter. It’s actually exciting to see dirt and mud out my window. Yay for spring and all the changes it brings! Now for some spring cleanup. Looking around, I see stacks of “stuff” in my office and my house, begging to be put away
. My pantry appears to be stocked with cold weather food staples, and I have yet to find my good walking shoes.
So I made a little list for you and for me…
What ideas do you have to spring into action and clear the winter clutter out of your life?
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!
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?
I spend lots of time in September/October getting the house ready for fall and winter. As I was struggling to clean the rain gutters this weekend, it occurred to me I should be putting equally as much time into fall cleanup and winter prep for my body…you know, a little medical self-care. At the very least, I should have a plan. Do you have a winter plan? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Dust off your fitness club membership
- Check your walking shoes for a good fit
- Locate your walking hat, gloves, and flashing safety lights
- Call your walking partner; set a date
- Refresh your sunscreen (yes, you still need to wear it!)
- Get your cholesterol and glucose (blood sugar) checked
- Have your blood pressure checked
- Write down your weight and waist measures; measure against them every 1-2 months
- Get a flu shot!
- Check your immunizations…shingles, tetanus, pneumonia
- Schedule your preventive health checks: teeth cleaning, PSA, mammogram, pap smear, colonoscopy
- Stock your pantry with high energy foods
Make your list; take good care of you! Go into winter feeling good; you’re much more apt to have a healthy spring.
What’s your plan to prepare your body for winter?
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.
The Holiday Season is upon us! Looking for some “healthy” gift ideas? Take a look at this list…
- Air popper and popcorn
- Basket of whole grains
- Tea pot, juicer, or smoothie maker
- Seeds for next spring’s garden
- Walking DVD
- Reflective clothing/flashing lights for after-hour walks
- New leash for the dog (get the connection?)
- Pedometer, hand warmers, hat, gloves, scarf
- Hand weights, yoga mat
- Subscription to a healthy magazine/website
- Health related book: herbs, gardening, clean eating, stretching
- Meditation CD, soothing sound machine
- Massage or aromatherapy candle
- Insulated water bottle (BPA free!)
- Natural lip balm
Read more on How to Choose Healthy Holiday Gifts
. Don’t forget your furry family – check out Healthy Pets Holiday Gift Guide
What’s your favorite healthy holiday gift to give or receive?
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?
We’re getting down to the wire on holiday shopping. If you’re still searching for that perfect gift idea…think health! There are many, many health and wellness gifts that promote activity, good nutrition, and de-stressing. Couldn’t we all use that? There are great holiday gift ideas on the Mayo Clinic site…things I had never thought of like food games, canning starter sets, and more. Clean eating is the big buzz and there are cookbooks on Amazon that might be perfect along with lots of 100 calorie snack packs for stocking stuffers. Want to get your kids more active? Give gifts that encourage movement
…balls, jump ropes, pedometers, bikes, skate boards. Create gift certificates for fun family activities.
How about getting more active in the office? Resistance bands, free weights, pedometers, heart rate monitors, walking shoes, workout DVD’s…all belong in the office. De-stress gifts are everywhere – yoga mats, stress squeeze balls, massage coupons, manicures, scented oils, relaxation music. The list is endless.
So put away the fudge recipe and the caramel corn bag. Let’s get back to stuffing that stocking with a new toothbrush, dental floss, and an orange. Who knew my parents were light years ahead of the game?!
What healthy last-minute gifts do you have?
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