Over the years we have become more and more sedentary. Modern conveniences mean that work that was once physical is now simply a button press. This lack of activity has many consequences for your health. Your metabolism may be slowing down, your muscles may be shrinking and you may be forgetting what it means to move. Adding a little bit of activity will not instantly make you lose 20 lbs, or cure your chronic disease, but it will start to make a difference in how you look and feel. It can become a habit which can grow to something amazing.
Adding activity to your life doesn’t have to be hard. And it doesn’t have to be a lot. Here are some ways that you can start small and add a little bit of activity each day. These can definitely build off of each other so you end up being much more active.
Take a mini exercise break when you can.
If you work in an office get up and walk around every 15 – 30 minutes. If you still watch commercial TV do 10 squats during every commercial, If you binge on Netflix, set a timer, hit pause, and do 10 squats. You could do 10 pushups while dinner is in the oven or hold a plank while waiting for something in the microwave. These little bits of exercise will add up if you do this throughout the day and you’ll find yourself getting stronger without really trying.
Take the stairs as much as you can.
This is one you have probably heard before. Stair climbing is a functional activity that you want to be able to keep doing. Stair climbing also helps to improve leg strength and increase cardiovascular fitness.
I’m not suggesting that you should take the stairs to your 20th floor office or apartment, although you can if you like. Avoid the elevator if you are only going up 2-3 flights. In fact, most experts are advising against being in enclosed spaces like elevators for very long during the COVID-19 epidemic so the stairs are good for your health in other ways.
You can also use the stairs in your house or an outdoor set of stairs for some deliberate exercise. Stairs also make great mini exercise breaks (go up and down the stairs during a commercial break).
Consider walking when you can.
Walking is good for you. It helps to maintain the strength of your muscles and bones. It also helps prevent chronic conditions and helps to maintain balance and fitness as we get older. Unfortunately, many of us don’t walk enough to maintain fitness.
If you don’t feel you have enough time to add purposeful walking to your routine, then consider adding a little bit at different times throughout the day. You can park at the far end of a parking lot when you are shopping or going to an appointment. Then you are also less likely to get door dings. You could also consider walking to run errands if it is close enough.
Clean your house.
It may not be the most exciting activity, but cleaning your house is considered exercise. I like to put a podcast on and start cleaning. Cleaning also gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes your house feel more relaxing and peaceful.
Volunteer jobs are different than they used to be, but you can still find volunteer jobs that can keep you active. Food banks are heavily used right now, so volunteering at a food bank will be good for your heart and soul. Or maybe you can help deliver meals or groceries for people who can’t get out safely. Search for volunteering in your local area and you are sure to find opportunities.
Use an activity tracker.
Activity trackers and fitness trackers have come along way since the early Ftibits. They can be used to count your steps, measure your heart rate, monitor your sleep and even send notifications from your phone. I explained how an activity tracker can be used to help with weight loss in this article.
Aside from the daily step tracking, one useful feature is a move timer. If you haven’t moved for some amount of time (usually an hour), your tracker will alert you that it is time to move. This is your signal to get up and walk around a bit.
The flip side is that is has been found that you may enjoy walking less if you start tracking your steps. My opinion is that it depends on how competitive you are and if you enjoy seeing the numbers.
Find a yoga Youtube channel you like
Yoga has many benefits, including stress reduction, increased strength and increased flexibility. It even has been shown to help with weight loss. You may have stopped going to yoga classes during the coronavirus shutdown, or maybe you’ve never been comfortable in a class full of ultra flexible lycra clad women. Finding a Youtube channel is a good way to get into yoga or get back into it. Find one that you like the style of and that fits your level.
Try a fitness app.
There are many fitness apps that help to provide you with a short workout you can do at home (or anywhere). Search fitness on your smart phone for many different options. A couple that I like are a timer app called IntervalTimer you can use to set up timed workouts and any of the 7 minute workout apps.
You can also find weight training apps that you can customize to the equipment you have. And you can usually find something to match your fitness level. Also, take a look on Youtube for online fitness classes. There are 1000s of options available.
These are just a few of the ways to get more activity each day. Pick one of these and try to find ways to become more active. If you are looking for structured exercise, download this free workout plan to get started.