Get Moving; Stay Active
Spring is just around the corner! If, like many of us, you made a New Year’s resolution to become more active but found that hard to do in the middle of a cold dark winter, now is the time to jump-start your fitness plans. Getting – and staying – active doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive; more than anything it just takes motivation and perseverance. Here are some ideas to help you incorporate movement into your daily routine.
Remember, every step counts. According to the American Heart Association, a great goal is at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) a week of moderate intensity activity. Breaking that down a bit, it’s just 30 minutes of brisk walking on at least five days a week. But what if you’re so tight on time that you can’t spare a half hour every day? Then get creative and break up your activity into shorter sessions. For example:
- In the morning, park or get off the bus/train about 10 minutes away from your job and walk briskly to work.
- At lunch, walk for 10 minutes around where you work, indoors or outdoors. Recruit a co-worker to two to join you. Time will fly when you’re conversing and can turn your walk into a time you all look forward to; a welcome respite from your busy day.
- At the end of the day, walk briskly for 10 minutes back to your car or station.
Look for opportunities to reduce sedentary time and to increase active time:
- Instead of watching TV, take a walk after dinner. Can’t break away from your favorite shows? Get up and move around during the commercial breaks. There are typically 12 minutes of commercials in a one-hour show, so you can get in a 30-minute workout in one evening of binge watching. Just don’t use that time to walk to the fridge.
- I always used to say, “Great parking means great shopping!” meaning if I got the first or second space closest to the door, I thought I would actually find what I was shopping for or find a great bargain on something I didn’t even know I needed. But that notion has been flipped on its head. Better to choose the parking space farthest from the door whether you’re in the parking lot at work, the grocery store, the mall, or any other pace you visit or run errands. Those extra steps will add up (and the shopping will still be great).
- Walk away from your desk at work to take a phone call or have a walking meeting with a colleague.
- Add a stand for your computer that will allow you to stand at your desk. While this isn’t actually moving around, standing is better than sitting. If, unlike me, you have a level of coordination, you could walk in place while you work.
Use your smart phone, a pedometer, or a device like a Fitbit or other wearable fitness tracker to monitor your steps. If you have a competitive bone in your body, you’ll enjoy setting and achieving step goals.
Set aside specific times to make physical activity part of your daily or weekly routine. This diary from the CDC might help. Think about activities and places you enjoy, like morning walks in your neighborhood, or a free online class in the evening. Recruit family and/or friends to help motivate you. I once joined a 6:00AM fitness class with a co-worker and we took turns driving. There was no skipping class because either she was outside my apartment waiting for me or I was outside waiting for her.
Start slowly and work your way up to more physically challenging activities. For many people, walking is a particularly good place to begin. Walking is one of the simplest ways to get active and stay active. With each step you take, you travel further down the path to a healthier lifestyle. Research has shown that walking can have a significant impact on your health by lowering your chances of heart disease.
Get ready to walk!
- For a morning walk, lay out your walking clothes and shoes the night before and eat a piece of fruit or some yogurt for energy.
- Listen to music to get you going (just make sure you can hear traffic).
- If dark, be sure to carry a flashlight or wear reflective clothing.
- If you like to walk at lunch, keep your walking shoes at work.
- A great way to pass the time while walking is to listen to a podcast or an audio book.
- Bring along your pup so you’ll both get a nice workout.
There you have it. Easy ways to get moving, stay fit, and keep those darn New Year’s resolutions.
Resources: CDC, American Heart Association