We all know we need to exercise more – our lifestyles are way too sedentary compared to that of the previous generations. It’s not all our fault. The days of the 9 to 5 job are long over and despite huge advances in technology, our lives seem to be a lot busier compared than that of previous generations.
Even when I have been motivated to get a gym membership and start exercising, it only lasts for a few months. At the first sign of stress and deadlines at work, the gym routine gets kicked off the list. So here are a few tricks to include some activity in daily habits to take it from a sedentary lifestyle to a mildly active one.
- Park far away
Instinctively, almost all of us look for a spot as close to our destination as possible. Instead get into the habit of parking a block away, or parking at the farthest parking spot. If you are grocery shopping, park in the store’s lot but choose the back row. Clearly you wouldn’t want to be caught pushing a shopping cart down the street trying to get to your car.
- Take the stairs instead of elevators
If it is one or two floors, always take the stairs. If you need to go up/down several floors then take the stairs to two floors above/below and then take the elevator. As you get used to it, increase the number of floors you use the stairs for. If you park in a level parking lot, always park in one of the higher levels and walk down.
- If possible, walk or bike to work
This is not possible for everyone, but if you live in a place where the pollution is less and your workplace is relatively close by, then choose to walk or bike instead of driving.
- Skip the stop
If your city has a subway or bus system, skip your stop and get off at the one after (or before) and then walk from there. You’ll get to enjoy the air and neighborhood a little while increasing your heart rate.
- Maximize the benefits from your grocery trip
When you go to the grocery store, make it a habit to walk the entire store. Go through every aisle and every nook and corner. Avoid the aisles that could tempt you to pick up junk food though, since that can completely obliterate any benefits of walking a few extra steps! NOTE: if you have a spending problem don’t do this.
- Take a short walk-break at work
Again this one depends on your work location, but ours is located outside the city and is on large private grounds. Every afternoon a couple of us go for a short walk (~1 mile round trip) which takes roughly 15-20 minutes. It is very invigorating and a nice break from the afternoon routine.
- Do your own yard work
This is a good one for summer time when the lawn starts to grow and you need to keep it trimmed. Instead of hiring someone to do it for you, do it yourself. You will not only get some exercise, but save some money too!
- Play with your kids
Kids these days seem to play more video games than outdoor games like we did when we were younger. So take your kids out to the park and throw the ball around, play tag, etc.
- Put on your favorite music and dance
This is not only exercise, but also a great way to unwind at the end of a busy day. And a good trip down the memory lane for those of us who have not done it in a long time!
- While watching TV, pace or stretch
Instead of switching channels during the ad break get up and walk about the house. Do some lunges or some simple stretching exercises. If you have stairs in your house, walk up and down the stairs a few times, during each ad break for at least one show every day.
- Choose to walk down instead of call or email
When you have a question for a colleague, instead of picking up the phone or shooting an email, walk over to their cube. This will not only provide some exercise but a short break for a quick recharge.
- Walk while you talk on the phone
If your job involves talking on the phone a lot, then instead of doing this sitting at your desk, get into the habit of pacing while you talk. Motion creates emotion so you may even become a better speaker by doing this.
- Choose active entertainment over passive entertainment
Instead of going for a movie, choose to go play tennis with some friends (or at least bowling). Instead of playing regular video games, play with a Wii. Instead of meeting friends for a cup of coffee, catch up over a sunset walk.
- Choose active vacations
While planning vacations, pick something that involves some walking and hiking. While taking in a new city, do it by walk, instead of driving around. If golfing, skip the cart. If staying at a resort, make use of their pool and the exercise facility. Try skiing and white water rafting.
While none of these will make an immediate difference in your life style, over a period of time they will get you into the habit of choosing an active alternative to the every day things you do. In the long run, that can set the stage for an even more active life style and could be quite beneficial in avoiding some common health problems.