ne of the easiest healthy changes to agree with (yet often hardest to implement) is the idea of exercise. We know it’s good for us, we know our bodies need it, but sometimes the execution is darn right difficult.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Prevention and Control) recommend that adults get an average of 20 minutes of exercise a day (or 150 minutes a week, plus 2 days with muscle-strengthening activities). But they also estimate that nearly 80% of Americans don’t meet these recommendations. Another study shows that just 15 minutes of exercise a week is enough to increase life expectancy while reducing mortality. And I think it’s safe to say we can all find 15 minutes to move throughout our week.
For Healthy Change #44 I’m going to list ten simple ways to implement more movement into our daily lives. Because what happens when we’re moving? It means our heart rate is up and we’re burning calories! Sure, this “movement” may not always equate to exercise, but more movement is good for our circulatory system, and can actually be more beneficial at waking us up during that afternoon slump than an umpteenth cup of coffee.
Without further ado…let’s get moving!
1. Find time to play: Ever notice how kids don’t “work out”? Our kids never spend time mindfully exercising, yet they get hours of exercise in each day by simply being kids. They jump on the trampoline, ride bikes, play tag or go swimming or sledding…and it’s all fun and games to them! Think of how you could incorporate exercise in a way that’s more play than work. Joining my kids on the trampoline is one of the best workouts during my week.
2. Go for a walk as a family: By taking walks as a family, more than just your health will be benefitting. You’ll be spending time with loved ones, getting fresh air and possibly even some much needed Vitamin D! Going for a walk is the perfect opportunity to add in tip #1 as well. We often play “Follow the Leader” while out for a walk. I tell ya, our kids can turn a simple walk into an epic American Ninja Warrior course that will leave me huffing for air!
3. Tie specific tasks with specific movements: Every time you get a phone call, take it standing up (better yet, take a few laps around the house or living room). When it’s time to switch the laundry, do a few squats while moving the wet clothes to the dryer. When you’re taking dry clothes out to be folded, grab one garment at a time and do a squat each time you grab a piece of clothing. If you do large loads of laundry this could add up to 20+ squats just while folding clothes, something that has to happen anyway.
4. Park farther from the door: Surely you’ve all heard this tip, but those extra steps really add up, especially on errand day! Park at the edge of the parking lot, or, if it’s plausible, while running multiple errands try parking in a central location and walking to each destination instead of hopping back into your car for each stop. Even going to a friends house can equate to more steps by parking in the street instead of the driveway. It may only be 20 extra steps, but it’s 20 more than you would have walked. If your friend lives fairly close by, lace up your walking shoes and hit the pavement.
5. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator: When in a building that has an elevator, opt for the stairs and watch as both your steps and your heart rate sky rocket (in a good way, of course). One of my goals, because I rarely come across elevators or escalators, is to do double the steps. Every time I have to go upstairs for something at home, I’ll add an extra trip up and down the steps. It may only be 20 steps round trip, but again, it’s 20 more than I would have had and those stairs really get my heart pumping.
6. Turn that “to-do list” into a workout: We all have those chores that have to be done. The floor must be swept, the bedrooms vacuumed, the lawn mowed and the leaves raked. Try finding a few chores that will total 30-40 minutes and be purposeful about your movements. 30 minutes spent shoveling snow can burn some serious calories. As can raking leaves or mowing your lawn. “Kill two birds with one stone” by mindfully scheduling these chores throughout the week, then work swiftly to get that heart rate up so you’re burning extra calories at the same time.
7. Make it a “date”: If you put a lunch-date on the calendar you’re not likely to forget it, so put that pen to paper and schedule in time to move. Grab a bite to eat with a friend, then go for a short walk. Oftentimes my husband and I will schedule a coffee date followed by a walk along the river. This gets our blood pumping and allows for quality time with great conversation. A true win-win! But schedule in your solo workouts as well. I find if I’ve penciled it in, I’m more likely to stick to it. Even if it’s only 10 minutes, that 10 minutes over the course of a week is 70 more minutes than not doing it at all. I find if I plan to do 10 minutes, it will end up being 30 minutes or more! The hardest part is starting!
8. Track your progress: I’ve used a heart rate monitor for years as a tool to help keep my blood pumping while working out. For me, it’s a welcomed challenge to keep my heart rate in certain “zones” (cardio zone, fat-burning zone, etc.). This year I was gifted this fitbit watch for my birthday. It tracks my calories, heart rate, steps, even my sleep! I’ve been loving the challenge to simply move more throughout the day as this watch also tracks my movement throughout an hour. The watch syncs to a smartphone or computer so I can see my daily, weekly and monthly results. If your friends or family have a fitbit you can combine this tip with tip #9 by creating daily and weekly challenges. You can compete to see who gets the most steps, or who attains their daily goals, etc.
9. Get accountable: Having someone you’re accountable to can really help motivate movement. I have a “workout buddy”, but we don’t actually workout together…ever! It’s just someone I shoot off a text message to once I’ve finished my workout for the day and she does the same to me. If she hasn’t heard from me come dinner time, you’d better believe I’m getting a “check-in” text to see if I’ve worked out yet! Again, this doesn’t have to be tyrannical, we both know life happens and we don’t beat each other up if a workout isn’t a reality. But she knows my goals, and she knows she can call me out when I’m just choosing laziness over health!
10. Remember Healthy Change #42: We discussed, in depth, the importance of not comparing our own progress, or efforts with others. This holds true when it comes to working out as well. We’re all in different places when it comes to our physical abilities. Some just seem to be natural athletes, while others have to force activities. Some may be dealing with chronic pain, while others are healing from imbalanced hormones. These will all play into your exercise “routines” and healthy habits. Basically, I’m just saying don’t go out and run a half marathon if it would be detrimental to your health (that’s why you won’t see me entering any marathons in the near future!).
By finding practical ways to bring more movement into our lives, we’ll be getting our hearts pumping and doing wonders for our health. Implement one of these tips or implement them all, just get moving!
Get involved in the conversation:
We’d love to hear from you! Do you have easy, practical ways you incorporate movement or exercise into your daily life? Share with us your tips and tricks in the comments below…especially if they’re unique!