By Cassy Scott
Often it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day, and blocking a chunk of your day for exercise may seem nearly impossible. Small efforts can add up throughout the day, and every step counts! Activity is like pennies, you can accumulate steps and cash them at the end of the day for the purchase of health.
Here are some ideas to add more movement in your day.
1 – Park farther away from the door
It takes 25 steps to burn a single calorie. Parking farther away gives you an opportunity to burn a few extra calories. Plus, you can get some fresh air before entering your destination.
2 – Skip the elevator, take the stairs
Walking two flights of stairs a day is the calorie equivalent of losing 6 pounds per year, plus it can help strengthen your legs, glutes and cardiovascular system. If taking the stairs all the way to your destination seems intimidating or unachievable, try taking one or two flights, then take the elevator the rest of the way. Consistently taking the stairs can help improve your fitness and, over time, you’ll be able to conquer the whole trip.
3 – Walking meetings or breaks
Movement increases blood and oxygen flow to your brain and is linked to improved cognitive function. Walking meetings and walking breaks can help you think more clearly and be more productive with work.
4 – Standing desk
Standing an additional 3 hours per day over the year can burn up to 30,000 extra calories and 8 pounds of fat (juststand.org). If a standing desk is unavailable, try putting a laptop on a counter while you do computer work, play games or pay bills. Treadmill and bike desks have become more popular and accessible. Building or purchasing a desktop converter that you can put on your desk can be a more affordable option. To increase standing, alternate between sitting and standing. Try setting an alarm each hour to stand for 10-15 minutes and add 3-5 minutes of standing to build your body into being able to stand half of your day.
5 – Get up every hour or during commercials
While you’re watching TV, get up at regular intervals for a movement break – stretch, walk around a few minutes, do wall push-ups or maybe squats over your chair.
Sitting for an hour or longer decreases lipase activity, an enzyme responsible for helping to break down fat molecules so they can be used for energy. Sitting for longer than an hour is also linked to increased risk of metabolic diseases, such as diabetes. Try setting an alarm to remind you to get up every hour. When watching TV, skip fast-forwarding through the commercials and take it as an opportunity to stretch, get a few steps or do wall push-ups. Research recommends reaching 250 steps per hour.
6 – Sit on the floor rather than the couch
Sitting on the couch can make us feel so comfortable we end up moving less. If you sit on the floor, you will be more likely to fidget. This is also a great opportunity to add some stretches into your day.
7 – Carry fewer grocery bags on each trip from the car
Have you ever watched a child clean up their toys? They pick up one toy at a time and put it away. We can learn a lot from children’s behaviors, such as how to be less efficient. Instead of piling all the grocery bags on to your arms, take one or two bags at a time and make several trips. This will increase steps taken and your safety.
Cassy Scott is an exercise specialist with Mission Weight Management.