Sedentary behavior, which is participating in little to no physical activity (basically you’re just hanging out on your couch all day), is becoming far too common. In fact, some health and wellness professionals actually claim that “sitting is the new smoking.” Because when you don’t keep your body moving regularly and frequently, it can have detrimental effects on your health, just as smoking does.
So, when it comes to physical activity, one thing’s absolutely certain: Staying active—moving as much as possible—is key to your overall well-being. Moving throughout the day is beneficial to your heart, the quality of your sleep, weight management efforts, and your energy levels.
But even if we know we should be active throughout the day, how do we make sure that we are? After all, it’s very easy to get lost in what we’re doing and for seconds, minutes, and hours to tick by without moving at all. Think about your work day—how much time do you spend sitting? Probably a lot.
So, we’ve put together some suggestions for how you can make sure you maintain healthy activity levels throughout the day.
1. Use an Activity Tracker
Whether it’s extremely basic or very technologically-advanced, activity trackers can be really helpful. The National Center for Biotechnology Information and the National Institutes of Health set a standard of 10,000 steps per day for the average, healthy adult. This is a great goal, but it could also be really intimidating, especially considering the average adult only gets about 5,000 steps a day. So, start off by just seeing what your average is for a week. Then, start with a goal of 2,000 steps above that. For example, if after your trial week your step average is 3,000 steps, then the goal you want to try to hit is 5,000 steps a day. Once you start hitting that regularly and easily, you can increase the goal again.
2. Set Reminders
Ideally, you should be as active for as many minutes of the day as you can be. Again, though, if you have a desk job, this is difficult. In this case, you should try to get up and move at least once every hour. Some advanced fitness trackers allow you to set a reminder that prompts you to move on regular intervals. If you don’t have one of those, though, don’t worry. You can set a recurring reminder on your phone or computer. Whatever it is, just get up and move! Whether it’s a walk around the office, a couple of jumping jacks, or a some push ups in the corner—just get your body moving. (One of my favorite tips? Turn your meetings into walking meetings!)
3. Stand Up When You Can
Even standing is better than sitting. If you can get a standing desk, get a standing desk. Make sure it’s set up correctly for you—ergonomics are crucial to your posture to avoid neck and back pain. Not everyone can get a standing desk, though. So, you can try to stand during activities like phone calls, meetings, and when you’re reading through something or brainstorming. The fun thing about standing is that, once you’re up, you’ll tend to move more, adding more and more activity into your day!
4. Turn Down Time into Up Time
Have some down time during the day? I bet you’re thinking, “Ha! Down time. What’s that?” But we bet that you have more random spots of down time than you think. Turn that down time into up time. What I mean by that is: Before you plop down onto the couch, why don’t you choose to use that time more wisely? Clean the house, take a walk, walk your dog, explore your neighborhood, have a living room dance party. You’d be surprised how turning even just 10 minutes around can help you clear your mind.
5. Turn Social Activities into Social Active-ities
Having a friend over to catch-up? Instead of sitting in your kitchen and chatting, why don’t you go for a walk? Or meet a friend at a fitness class. Schedule a three-mile run together. Not every meetup needs to be over happy hour or coffee.
The bottom line is: Be as active as you can in your life. Activity is really helpful for weight management. But, since we know weight management and weight loss are hard, know that you don’t have to do it alone. We can help.