The fact that exercising is a must to keep you healthy is no secret. We all know how important physical activity is, yet many of us find it challenging to add more movement to our days. If you want to reduce your risk for illnesses such as cancer, obesity, chronic pain and cardiovascular disease, your best bet is to keep your weight down, enjoy a healthy diet, and keep moving. Here are 13 ways you can add more movement into your daily routine.
1. Consider Using a Standing Desk
My friend Wayne uses a standup desk and his health has improved immeasurably as a result. His back feels better, his weight is down, and he has more energy. You’ve probably heard that sitting is the new smoking. However, if your work involves mostly desk work, it can be difficult to avoid sitting. The introduction of “standing desks” has completely changed the way we look at the typical workstation. These height-adjustable desks allow you to mix up your day by choosing to stand part of the time. Even doing so in 15-minute intervals throughout the day can make a big difference to your overall health. Your goal should be to stand for half your workday whenever possible.
2. Change Positions Often
Moving while working is a good break. Any movement helps. If a standing desk isn’t an option, make constant changes in your position throughout the day. Remember, you don’t have to participate in traditional exercise to increase movement. Do stretches, get up and walk around your office, do a few squats now and then, or even change the position of your legs frequently – all of these movements add up and can make a difference in your daily stationary routine.
3. Stimulate Your Nerves
Any sort of movement that stimulates your muscles and your joints is good for you. Whether you sit or stand at work, you can stimulate your nerves to help reduce chronic pain and keep your blood circulating. Things like standing on a shiatsu mat or running your feet over a tennis ball or foot massager can stimulate your body and nerves throughout the day. That also eases constant pressure that can lead to aches and pains.
4. Take the Stairs
I always try to take the stairs. This is an easy solution to your movement challenges as you can do it whenever the opportunity arises. Instead of always opting for the escalator or elevator, you can take the stairs. If you’re too many floors up, just do a few flights, or even one to help keep you active. My dad heads up the stairs when he is in Florida…all five flights of them…and it keeps him both healthy and energetic. Even if you work from home, if you have a bathroom on another level, you can use it instead of the one on the same floor of your home office, you can get in some extra steps.
5. Use a Timer
Timers are always going off in my household to remind various members of the family that they want to do something or other. If the half-day of standing is too difficult, use a timer on your phone to remind you to stand up and move every 30 to 60 minutes. This allows you to take a physical break so you can squat, stand, stretch, and walk up and down a flight of stairs to keep moving. Ideally spent two minutes of activity when taking a break.
6. Exit a Stop Sooner, or Park Further Away
Incorporating more walking into your day is critically important. If you drive or take transit to work, consider parking further away or getting off a stop or two sooner. You can get in some extra movement when you need to walk to your door instead of ending up a few steps from the door.
7. Try Calf Raises
Whenever you think about it, lift your heels off the ground to do calf raises. You can do this either sitting or standing and do them whenever you have the chance. Waiting for a bus, standing in line at the grocery store, stuck in a meeting at work, taking the elevator – all of this “dead” time can include these easy exercises throughout the day. They don’t require any space like lunges and are far less noticeable than doing squats so that they can be done anywhere, any time.
8. Take and Make Phone Calls Standing
When I walk in the morning, I talk on the phone to friends and family. Cell phones are known as mobile phones for a reason. They allow you to take and make calls from anywhere. Rather than sitting at your desk while on the phone, walk around the office or for a long call take a half hour walk or stand until the call is complete.
9. Ask Co-workers to Join You for Walking Meetings
If you know that your co-worker is active or wants to be more active, ask them if they would mind having a meeting walking instead of sitting. Don’t let the conventions of the workplace keep you stuck inside or in meeting rooms all day. Walking meetings are far healthier and usually result in a faster meeting. This is perfect if you need one on one time but also works for smaller groups. In nice weather, you can take it outside and get some fresh air.
10. Take a Breather When Stressed
Breath is one of our most powerful tools. Taking a deep breath can calm our body down and energize us. It can remove stress. It impacts our entire body and mind. If you find you are having a particularly stressful day, use it as an excuse to take a breather. Remove yourself from your work environment — anywhere you can move around, take a break, and regain a sense of calm before returning to your day. Breathe deeply into your belly, hold it, then release it entirely so your belly is empty. Repeat. You can also do shoulder shrugs and shoulder rolls while breathing. All of this breathing will definitely decrease your stress.
11. Watch TV Standing or Stretching
If you’re binge-watching your favourite show, consider doing something physical instead of just lying on the couch. Do some stretches, walk on the spot, lift some weights, go on the treadmill, and move a bit. Whatever you can do to keep moving works. If this isn’t appealing, at least stand up during the commercials. You spare yourself having to listen to the same messages over and over again and benefit from the movement.
12. Take a Walk at Lunch
Walking outside is so beneficial in so many ways. The movement, the blood flow, the fresh air, the wonder of nature…it is all positive. Hence consider using your lunch hours or break times to go outside and take a walk. Ask a coworker to join you if you want company, or head out on your own for some solitude with nature. On the weekend, don’t break the habit. Have a morning walk or ask your kids or partner to join you on Saturday and Sunday.
13. Take Up a Sport or Activity
An organized sport or activity will permit you to exercise regularly, have fun and potentially meet new people. Think of a sport or activity you could start to avoid spending so much time on the couch. Consider swimming, dancing, tennis, playing catch, biking, frisbee, golf. You are seeking active and healthy.
The more you move, the healthier you are. Your body will feel good with the added activity and will provide you with more energy. Hope you find a few of these tips helpful and capable of being incorporated into your daily routine. The result will keep you moving to hopefully enjoy a longer, healthier and happier life.