Do you have a hard time exercising? Do you want to improve your wellness but dread working out? Today I’d like to talk a little bit about some small ways we can start to move more.
We are becoming more and more sedentary, which is causing serious health concerns. The Sedentary Behaviour Research Network defines sedentary behavior as “any waking behavior characterized by an energy expenditure ≤1.5 metabolic equivalents (METs), while in a sitting, reclining or lying posture.” So basically, more and more of us are spending our days expending very little energy.
The current recommendation for physical activity is 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity per week. If you break it down, that’s 30 minutes per day. The problem is that many of us aren’t anywhere near meeting those recommendations, for various reasons.
The effects of a sedentary lifestyle on our health can be devastating.
According to medicalnewstoday.com, “Leading a sedentary lifestyle is becoming a significant public health issue. Sedentary lifestyles appear to be increasingly widespread in many nations despite being linked to a range of chronic health conditions.”
There’s hope for us though. So often, we think if we can’t make it to the gym every day, we can’t get any exercise at all. While it’s true that consistent, focused exercise is vital to good health, there are also lots of little things we can do to get more movement into our day.
I’m not saying that these things replace the moderate-to-intense exercise the Physical Activity Guidelines recommends. What I’m saying is we can cut down on the amount of time we spend being sedentary. In addition to that we can increase our energy expenditure when we’re involved in other activities.
21 Small Ways to Move More
- While you’re watching TV or bingeing Netflix, every 30 minutes, get up and move around for three minutes. If you just can’t bear to get up in the middle of your show, you could always move around for 6 minutes once the show’s over.
- While you’re cooking dinner or doing household chores put on your favorite music. Who can resist moving when your favorite song comes on?
- Move around while talking on the phone.
- Declutter daily. This not only keeps your house looking great, it gets you moving each day.
- Take a short stroll after dinner.
- Plan family get-togethers around being active.
- Find little ways to sneak some exercises into your daily activities, i.e. do some heel raises while brushing your teeth, squats while drying your hair, etc.
- Weed the garden or your flower beds.
- When reading, get up and move around every 10 pages or so.
- Use a standing desk (if available). Even better, move around while you’re standing there.
- Take a walk during your lunch break.
- Set a reminder to move around every 30 minutes or so while working at your desk.
- Do some light stretching or take your joints through their full range of motion at your desk. This can help you move more and keep you from getting stiff.
- Whenever you drink water, take a movement break as well.
- Instead of emailing a colleague, go talk to them.
- If you take public transportation to work, rather than looking for a seat, stand up for the commute. This can have the added benefit of strengthening your core since you have to use it to remain standing when that bus or train is lurching around curves and corners.
When Out and About:
- Park further away from the the building you plan to visit.
- Use waiting time wisely – if you have to wait in line anyway, you might as well make it count. Even shifting from foot to foot can expend a little more energy.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator when possible.
- If you’re stopping for food, skip the drive-through. Parking and going in will help you get some extra steps in.
- Visit local parks. They can be a great place to explore the great outdoors and move a little more.
Every little bit of movement helps, especially when there are factors or circumstances in our lives that keep us from exercising regularly. Doing small things to increase movement and improve energy expenditure can help us take those baby steps toward improving the physical dimension of wellness.
What are some small things you do to help you move more? Please share!
10 Quick Ways to Disrupt Sustained Sitting, ACE Fitness Journal, Jul-Aug 2019, Len Kravitz, PhD, CSCS