Getting to the gym is a huge achievement in our busy lives — I often feel like I’m winning at life when I make it to the gym twice in one week. But what if you can’t make it to the gym at all? Or what if you just want to find small additional ways to move your body throughout the day? The good news is that there are some simple life hacks you can build into your day to keep both your Fitbit and your body ticking along nicely.
The health impacts of a sedentary lifestyle
We all know that an increasingly sedentary lifestyle — sitting at your desk all day, and then lying on the sofa watching TV in the evenings — contributes to an increased risk of a number of chronic health concerns: diabetes, certain types of cancer, back and neck aches and pains, and even early death. Prolonged periods of inactivity can also impact your metabolism and your mental health.
But there’s lots of time to make improvements. Let’s not focus on what could happen, and instead focus on what we can do to have a positive impact on our health and well-being.
One study found that life expectancy could increase by two years if sitting time was reduced to three hours or less each day. While adding another goal to our already busy lifestyles may seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. Many of these suggestions may actually increase energy and productivity, and some don’t take any time at all. In fact, several ideas may actually save you time!
Top tips to becoming more active outside of the gym
- Bike to work. In most busy cities it is actually quicker to commute by bicycle than to drive. Plus, you’ll end up feeling energized when you get to work. On the way home, cycling is a great way to process the day’s stress, leaving you feeling relaxed when you get home.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Get off the bus early. Similarly, walking may be quicker than waiting for traffic to move in congested morning traffic. Try getting off the bus two stops early and build up to walking three to five stops from your destination.
- Get a dog. Dogs — especially puppies — require lots of exercise. With my dog, trips around the block, to the dog park, and for a hike easily clock up to 10,000 steps a day.
- Join a hiking group. The Meetup website is likely to have a great selection of hiking groups in your area. When activity is teamed with meeting people, it feels a whole lot less like exercise. Plus you’ll top up your levels of vitamin D, which we all need after a long winter.
- Take cell phone calls outside, while walking.
- Get a standing desk or even a walking desk. This will take no time out of your day and you’ll burn more calories standing than sitting in a chair.
- Take a break every 52 minutes. A recent study showed that workers who work for 52 consecutive minutes and then took a 17-minute break were more productive and accurate in their work. You could use that break to stretch, or walk around the office.
- Take a walk during your lunch break. You’ll be refreshed and energized when you return to work.
- Set a reminder every 30 minutes to stand up and move your body.
- Keep your remote next to the TV so that you have to get up and move to change the channel.
- Try standing instead of sitting while riding public transport…
- Spend more time gardening and seeing to chores around the house.
- Do errands walking or biking instead of driving. You’ll avoid the stress of traffic and may even spend less money by buying only what you can easily carry home!
- If you have young children, exercise while they play at the park instead of just watching them from a bench. Simple stretches are easy to do while you keep an eye on the kids.
- When you take your kids to sports practice, walk a couple of laps around the field or sidelines while their coaches run them through drills.
- Do a few stretches on the sofa during your TV shows.
- Meet friends at a local park instead of at a coffee shop, or go to a yoga class and then coffee.Image credit: Photo by Eddy Billard on Unsplash