People often think of fitness as something that only takes place at a gym, yoga studio or other fitness facility. It’s the one hour they dedicate to the activity of their choice. While the benefits of those activities can’t be denied, fitness and health begin with movement throughout your daily life, not just during an assigned hour on the elliptical or in boxing class.
Most standard guidelines tell you to do at least five hours of some sort of physical activity per week for optimal health. FIVE HOURS! That leaves 163 hours in your week that, if used effectively, could complement your yoga, your personal training, or your run, and put you on the highway to a healthier, fitter, you.
Movement is key, and can be incorporated into your life in so many ways. In fact, making small changes to make your lifestyle more active is what can make the difference of being sedentary or becoming an active, healthy person. Many people, especially in Europe, don’t even have gym memberships or go to organized fitness classes. Instead, they walk and bike everywhere and don’t rely on modern conveniences that reduce their activity level.
Here are some ideas on how to incorporate more activity into your day:
1. Get up from your desk at least once an hour and walk up the staircase, or around the building. Whatever you have time for.
2. Wear a pedometer and set high goals for your health. Trust me, knowing how many steps you take is eye opening, especially if you work a desk job. You’ll see just how active or inactive you really are.
3. Take your meetings on the road! Talk and walk!
4. Bike ride or walk to work, to the store, to your friend’s house, or just for fun instead of driving.
5. The next time you meet up with friends, do something active instead of sitting at a bar or café. The options are endless!
6. Instead of lying on the beach, or sitting down at a picnic, bring a volleyball or Frisbee and start a game.
7. Instead of ordering in, cook. Standing in the kitchen, walking from your fridge to the stove will all burn more calories than sitting on the couch waiting for the pizza guy to come by. Not to mention the fact that you can cook a much healthier meal.
8. Wake up a half hour or hour earlier to get an extra walk, yoga session, or workout in. It’s a much better way to start the day than hitting snooze five times and rushing to get to where you need to go on time.
9. Take a stretch break at work. Do some simple seated yoga moves, twist, and stretch. Lengthen out those limbs and counter the bodily effects of sitting in a chair for eight hours.
10. Treat your dog to an extra long walk in addition to your normal routine. You’ll both reap the benefits!
If you start to become conscious of incorporating movement in your life as much as you can, you’ll get into better shape in leaps and bounds. You don’t need to tackle it all at once; just pick one item from the above list, try it out for a week, then add another one! The great thing is that before you know it, all of these “new” habits will become your new normal, and you’ll end up setting even higher goals for yourself.
So here’s to making this your healthiest life possible. Get out there and MOVE!
By Brigitte Meinders