One of the best things you can do for your health is to move your body! This can sometimes be a challenge for people who work full-time at a desk job or if you live in a place like Chicago (like me!) where winter weather can be extreme! But research shows that you can eat healthy and work out for 30-60 minutes daily, but if you also sit at a desk for 8 hours or more, you may be compromising your health.
That’s why it is crucial that you work movement into your daily life. Let’s start with exercise. You have GOT to find time to do it no matter what. At least 5 times per week for 30-60 minutes. That can mean working out before work, during your lunch break, or after work; and if you don’t work, it means finding the time in your day to fit it in. And that one daily workout just isn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong. It’s great that you work out! But you can’t work out and then just sit for the rest of the day. You’ve got to get in more movement. The “workout” should be the time you’ve set aside for really pushing yourself, while the extra movement can be more leisurely. Here are some ideas for adding more movement to your daily life:
- WALK regardless of the temperature or weather. Not that I’m suggesting you walk in a downpour, snowstorm or below freezing temperatures. But if it’s 32 degrees or above, and whether it’s gloomy or sunny, just bundle up and go on a walk. Invest in long underwear, warm boots with good traction, a rain coat with a hood, hats and gloves, wool socks, good layering pieces, etc. Once you get out and start moving your body, you will warm up. And you will be surprised how your mood and energy can change for the better after a brisk walk in fresh air.
- USE YOUR LUNCH HOUR to walk or workout. Take advantage of the exercise room at your office, go to a class or gym nearby the office or just walk outside. Keep a little bag of travel-size toiletries in your desk to freshen up afterwards as needed.
- USE YOUR CAR LESS and your bike and feet more. If you have an errand to do at a local store–prescription pick up, library book return, only need 2 ingredients at the grocery store, meeting a friend for coffee–don’t drive. Grab a backpack and walk or ride your bike instead.
- STAND at work more often, like every time you are on the phone. Research shows that even standing can help.
- MOVE MORE AT THE OFFICE–If you can, get a treadmill desk or a desk that can raise up and down to allow for periods of standing while working during the day. If you are the boss or can influence office decisions, consider getting a couple of treadmill desks for the office that employees can sign up to use for 1 hour segments throughout the work day. Have walking meetings outside. Get up from your desk every 30-60 minutes and walk to get water or coffee, walk to the bathroom, walk to talk to a co-worker, take the stairs instead of the elevator or do some stretches and exercises in your office.
- USE YOUR TIME WISELY–after dropping your kids off for their 1-hour basketball practice or physical therapy appointment, don’t use that time to look at your emails or Facebook on your phone. The time would be better spent finding a place to walk while you wait for them.
- EXPLORE YOUR TV–not to add more tv shows to your binge-watching habit, but for checking out the free exercise videos on the ON Demand fitness channel. You may not even realize that you have an exercise staff with a variety of classes at your fingertips in the comforts of your own family room!
- CHECK OUT LOCAL CLASS OPTIONS at your neighborhood YMCA or park district. Pick one class per week to attend at night after work, or on the weekend. Many places offer a punch card or drop-in fee for trial classes.
- KEEP WORKOUT CLOTHES IN YOUR CAR along with an extra pair of gym shoes and a little bag of toiletries to freshen up. Then if the opportunity arises, you will always be prepared!
- ADD AN AFTERNOON OR EVENING WALK to your daily life. Workout in the morning, and then walk in the afternoon or evening. Use this time to catch up with your friend, husband or child, to exercise your pet, to listen to a podcast or book on tape or just to have some quiet time for yourself.