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One of the biggest roadblocks to looking and feeling our best in today’s world is our tendency to be extremely sedentary. In modern society, most of us are sitting at a desk most of the day, sitting in our cars as we drive to work or social engagements, and sitting on our couches when we get home. Have you heard that sitting is the new smoking? Well, it’s true! Being sedentary increases your risk of heart disease, turns down the fat-burning enzymes in your body, puts your bone health at risk, and is highly correlated with early death.
Our bodies were designed to move. Our ancestors weren’t sitting all day – they were squatting, standing, and walking around from place to place, sprinting every so often when a predator showed up!
Exercise in the traditional sense offers many health benefits, including increased energy, improved mood, better bone health, improved cardiovascular health, an increased metabolism, enhanced brain health and memory, and overall longevity. Before we focus on getting in more “formal” exercise, though, we need to prioritize simply getting in plenty of low-level movement, like walking, throughout the day.
Even when life is busy, there are plenty of simple ways to fit more movement into your daily life without compromising your time. Here are some of my favorites!
- Park further away from your destination. If you’re driving to the store, park at the far end of the lot so you have to walk a bit further to get there. If you’re driving to your friend’s house, park a few blocks away instead of right in front. Just a few blocks of extra steps can make a huge difference!
- Walk to work, and to as many other places as you can! If you don’t have to drive, then don’t. If work, the store, or wherever else you’re going is definitely too far to walk the whole way, then drive part of the way, park, and walk the rest of the way. Starting your day off with a brief walk in fresh air will immediately boost your mood and set your day up to be a bit more active than usual!
- Always take the longer route to wherever you’re going. If you’re walking to class, maybe walk through a few extra buildings. Walking to your car? Zig zag in between a few cars in the lot on your way. It might seem silly and strange at first, but those few extra steps all add up!
- Set an alarm on your phone to go off once an hour alerting you to get up and move. You don’t have to move far, but even just standing up and walking in a small circle will get your blood flowing a bit and actually end up boosting your productivity and focus when you get back to work a few seconds or minutes later. If you can take a quick lap around the office, even better!
- Work at a standing desk, and take a few steps every so often when you think about it. Standing is much better than sitting at a desk all day long, and it makes it extra easy to move your feet every once in awhile so that your body gets a bit more movement without you having to actually go anywhere.
- Turn your social hangouts into something active. Instead of sitting at a coffee shop and talking with your friend, go for a walk and talk. Getting some Frozen Fruit Co? Walk down Montana Ave as you eat it! Suggest going for a hike or going to a park to hangout instead of just sitting on someone’s couch and chatting. You’re getting the same social interaction, with the benefits of added movement!
- Have “walking meetings,” where you plan your phone meetings/calls for times of day when you can also be walking while talking. If you’re having a physical small group meeting, you can still have the meeting while you walk around the block together outside! This is great for encouraging work culture to be a bit more active.
- Walk around while you check your social media or answer your texts. Let’s be honest – we are all going to check our social media and text messages at some point during the day. Might as well get some steps in while you do it!
- Move your body while watching videos on your computer or TV. On commercial breaks, walk around, hold a plank, or do a few air squats. If you’re watching a YouTube video on your computer, you can walk in place, do some stretches, or do some air squats while you watch.
- Brushing your teeth? Use those two minutes to hold a wall-sit or walk around!
- Anytime you need to use the restroom, pick the one farthest away. This will force you to get some extra steps in!
- Take the stairs. This is typical advice, but it really does make a big difference. There’s no need to wait for an elevator when you can probably get there faster with the stairs, anyways!
- Do a few bodyweight squats every time you leave the restroom. This is a great trick for when you’re stuck somewhere you’re forced to sit for a long time, like at a conference or on an airplane. It will only take you a few extra seconds to add in that little simple movement.
- Use your work breaks to walk outside. When it’s time for that 15 minute morning break, go for a walk around the block instead of sitting at your desk scrolling through Twitter. Multitask!
- Split up your lunch break so you spend half of it eating, and the other half walking. If your lunch break isn’t long enough for that, eat at your desk before your lunch break, and then spend the break walking.
Remember, start small. Every bit counts. If you incorporate just a few of these habits into your daily routine, I’m sure you’ll notice an increase in energy, mood, productivity, and motivation to move even more!
Christina Rice is a holistic health coach, the creator of christinaricewellness.com, and the host of two podcasts – Wellness Realness and Straight Up Paleo. After struggling with a number of health issues over the years, Christina finally found that a change in diet and lifestyle completely transformed her life and allowed her to overcome digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, anxiety, depression, and an unhealthy relationship with food, body image, and fitness. After learning firsthand that nutrient-dense food could truly heal, she dedicated herself to helping others find similar transformations in their own lives.
Christina uses a holistic approach to help clients from all over the world live their healthiest lives, working with them to address different obstacles such as digestive discomfort, weight loss/gain, mindset around food and fitness, and more. She has a passion for healthy cooking, clean beauty, and fitness, and you can find all of her healthy recipes on her website. You can usually find her on a long walk in Los Angeles, listening to a podcast, or recipe testing in the kitchen!
If you’re interested in working with Christina and setting up a consultation, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.