Physical activity isn’t just for burning calories and losing weight—it helps your body function properly and adds precious years to your life. Recent studies have revealed that our physical activity levels play a critical role in our overall health and wellbeing, thus making it highly essential to incorporate healthy levels of physical activity in our day-to-day lives.
Experts advise that we aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. But if your lifestyle and schedule does not allow you to get in a proper workout on a regular basis, there are plenty of ways to sneak in some extra movement without having to go to the gym.
Most people don’t have the time to go out of their way to exercise. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t meet your daily physical activity goal—the trick is simply to incorporate more movement into the normal activities and tasks that you already do every day.
Doing some stretches during your idle time is a great way to add some movement without exerting too much effort. You can do some stretching breaks at work, which is always a good idea since sitting too long can leave you feeling stiff.
Or if you’re one of those people who likes to lie in bed for a few minutes before getting up, why not use that time to stretch? Instead of checking your email and social media accounts, put that time to good use and start the day with a basic stretching routine. Aside from relieving the stress from the night before and encouraging you to do breathing exercises, this should effectively energize you for the day.
Alternatively, you can also do your stretches before bed to help you wind down after a long day. Follow YouTube fitness guru Cassey Ho’s bedtime stretching routine, or use it as a guide to come up with your own:
You’ve probably heard this suggestion before. It’s a simple change that can yield great health benefits, but one that most people often pass up on since they’re often in a rush and can’t afford to waste time. But if you really want to increase your physical activity levels each day, it’s really as simple as it sounds—just take the stairs as often as you can, especially if you have to go up or down just three floors or less.
If time is an issue for you, wake up a little earlier so you can allot a few extra minutes to take the stairs. And if you live or work too high up, take the elevator halfway and use the stairs the rest of the way. You can even skip the elevators or escalators at the mall and walk a flight up with weighted shopping bags in hand.
Taking the stairs will no doubt feel like a chore, but it will eventually become second nature once you get used to it. You can also try using the elevator or escalator only when going up, and using the stairs whenever you need to go down. This should make it easier, since walking down the stairs requires much less effort as gravity helps you move.
If you drive a car, consider taking public transit or using a more active mode of transportation, like a bicycle, when you’re going to work or when running errands. Riding the bus or train to allows you to move around and be more active, as opposed to just sitting in a car. It involves more bodily activity that will get your heart pumping—and allows you to save on gas and parking costs. And if your destination is too far away, at least park as far from your office or school as possible so you have no choice but to walk a few meters to and from your car.
If you choose to go this route, wear something comfortable and pack a change of clothes so you can still look presentable at work.
Virtually everybody has to sit down for long periods of time on a daily basis, whether it’s at the office for desk work; at home while binge-watching on Netflix; or even in school. But modern research has shown that prolonged sitting or standing, even for just 30 minutes straight, can have detrimental effects on our health.
There are plenty of benefits to doing desk exercises, including increased calorie burning while at rest. It’s a great way to add some activity to an otherwise sedentary day at the office.
If you have a job that requires you to sit at a desk, make it a point to stand up, stretch, and take short movement breaks for 2-3 minutes between every 20-30 minutes of sitting. Or, you can utilize desk exercise equipment like the SitFlow desk swing to keep your body engaged in constant lower body movement while sitting. Such “inactive exercises” can help significantly lower health risks that come with sedentary behavior while increasing productivity—without distracting you from your daily tasks.
If you don’t know what a “walking meeting” is, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like—a meeting that you conduct while walking or moving around. Many people with desk jobs rarely get an opportunity to walk around throughout the day, except when they go out to lunch or during the occasional bathroom break. Therefore, if you want to increase your physical activity at work, you need to get a bit creative.
Aside from discreetly exercising at your desk, one way to integrate movement into your work day is to invite your colleagues to do “walking meetings” instead of the usual conference room meeting. This likely won’t work for larger groups, so reserve this idea for one-on-one sessions and smaller meetings.
This should go without saying. However, if you aren’t as conscientious about your household chores as you should be, then now is definitely the time to start being more consistent with it. Doing chores is a great way to work up a sweat, so make it a daily habit to clear up and clean around the house whenever you can. You’ll be surprised how much of a workout it can be, since it involves a lot of walking around the house, lifting or moving heavy things, and using cleaning tools (like mops and brooms) that require repetitive arm movements. You can do anything from vacuuming and polishing the floors to arranging your furniture and washing the dishes.
If you can, do housework more frequently. You can even play some music or put on a TV show in the background so you don’t feel the time passing.
Instead of going out to see a movie or having dinner at your favorite restaurant, choose a more “active” activity for date night with your spouse or significant other. You can take a stroll, ride your bikes, go bowling, or try salsa dancing! It can be pretty much any activity that will require you to move around—as opposed to sitting in a chair at the movie theater or at a bar for two to three hours.
If you do choose to do the usual movie-dinner date, at least leave the car at home and walk or bike to your destination in order to get in some much-needed physical activity.
Similarly, if you happen to have children, you can also choose more active ways to spend time with them. Instead of sitting at home and playing video games or watching movies, go to the playground and actively play with your kids. Chase them around, play frisbee, get on the merry-go-round, or ride the seesaw together.
This way, you kill two birds with one stone. Not only will you get to bond with your children over an activity they’ll enjoy, but you’ll also be able to sweat it out.
Dancing is a fun and engaging way to exercise. It’s a highly effective way to get your heart pumping, increase your strength, and burn calories, making it one of the most popular ways to work out—and without the need for exercise equipment. All you need is yourself and some feel good dance music!
You don’t even have to take it seriously and be in full workout ensemble. You can simply put on some music and dance however you feel like it at home. Switch to a music channel and follow the steps in that pop dance video. Or, invite your family or friends to join you for a good session of Just Dance or any similar dance video game. It can be very addicting, so prepare to do it on a daily basis!
Got any other activities in mind for increasing daily physical activity? We would love to hear your own tips in the comments below!
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