In Texas, Spring break is next week! It has been a rough year (I see a trend!) and it is all too easy to simply “veg out”. While rest and relaxation are important components of health, consider the benefits of spending time in nature and joyful movement as well.
Recent studies by the American Heart Association find that the amount of time Americans spend sitting every day is approaching dangerous levels that can adversely affect long-term health. Decreased range of motion in muscles and joints, poor posture, decreased circulation and even links to greater and more severe depression have been linked to extended sitting.
You know the demands of your career, family, other passions can outweigh the ability, energy, or desire it takes to fit a full workout every day, so here are a few ways you can sit less and move more without going out of your way.
35 Ways to Move More and Sit Less
- Take Breaks Every Hour
No matter where you work, make it a point to try and take a break for each hour you spend sitting. If you work in an office setting, this can be a quick trip to the water cooler to refill your water bottle, a walk to the bathroom, or even just you standing and stretching for 2-3 minutes. Whatever works for you, just try to move for about five minutes every hour.
- Drink Lots of Water
First of all, drinking lots of water is good for all of your body systems, but besides just that, drinking lots of water will make you need to take more frequent bathroom breaks. Frequent bathroom breaks are the best way to have an excuse to get up when you work in an office setting. Plus, you’ll have to make extra trips to refill your water bottle too.
- Walk When You Talk on the Phone
Sometimes you may need to take a conference call, or maybe you just constantly get stuck talking on the phone with that one relative for hours on end.
No matter who it is, try to move while you are talking on the phone with them. You can pace, or even just stand and straighten your work area. Just try your best to put your phone time into movement so you aren’t spending a half hour phone call sitting in place.
- Eat Outside
However long your lunch break may be, consider taking your lunch outside. This encourages you to leave your desk and go for a little walk, even if it is just down the stairs and out the door. You could even order lunch for pick-up nearby and walk to go pick it up on your lunch break to add even more steps to your day.
- Invest In a Standing Desk
If your boss allows it, see about the possibility of getting a standing desk. Even if you have to purchase it yourself, it will be well worth the money. Most standing desks are convertible, which means you don’t have to stand all day, but you can easily alternate between sitting and standing as you work. This will help you sit less throughout the day. And you may find you like standing to work better anyways.
- Try Walking Meetings
If your job involves scheduling a lot of meetings, see if some of the people you are meeting with would be willing to try a walking meeting instead. If the weather is nice, consider an outdoor walking meeting even. Studies have actually shown that walking can help the creative juices flow as it pumps more blood and oxygen to the brain! And if your someone who finds meetings boring, this will help make them more interesting. However, do note that walking meetings generally only work when you are meeting one or two other people.
- Clean Your Desk Frequently
Another excuse you can use to add some movement to your life is by cleaning your desk regularly. When you do this, stand while you throw items away and take a walk to a trash can that maybe isn’t at your desk. You can also take this opportunity to wipe down your desk with disinfectant. Whatever care your desk may need, take this opportunity to turn it into movement.
- Park Far Away
This one is easy. Whether you are going to work, the grocery store, or a restaurant, make an effort to park far away.
Not only is this better for the environment as you won’t waste gas looking for a spot up close, but it will give you more of an opportunity to stretch your legs as well. And honestly, you’ll probably save time as well.
- Move While Watching TV
Of course, cutting back on TV is the best way to be more active, but if you have that favorite show that you just can’t miss, consider getting in a little movement while you watch it.
- Take Commercial Breaks
You can take your TV watching a step further by making every commercial break a workout break. Look up a few 3 or 4-minute high-intensity workouts and try to complete one every time a commercial comes on, then stop when your show returns.
You can also use commercial breaks as an excuse to leave the living room and do other tasks around the house, like take out the trash. Regardless of what you choose to do, you should not be sitting in front of the TV during commercial breaks.
- Cook Your Meals
Not only are home cooked meals just better for you, but they often require more activity than driving to a restaurant to get take-out. Try some new recipes to keep it challenging and fun. Another benefit is that cooking meals will also require you to go to the grocery store more frequently, which is another walking activity.
- Use Reminders
If you find yourself struggling to move enough during the day, consider setting reminders for yourself. And every time the timer goes off, you get up and do some sort of activity. You can pre-arrange these activities, or simply stretch each time, whatever you prefer. These reminders should be set to go off at least once every hour.
- Get A Dog
Now this can be difficult if you live somewhere which doesn’t allow pets, but studies have shown that dogs are one of the best ways to get moving. Not only do they require frequent trips outside and daily walks, but it’s likely they will want you to play with them frequently too. Just make sure you are ready for all the responsibility having a dog brings!
- Change Your Commute
Try changing your commute, after all, you have to go to work each day anyway. If you currently drive to work, how far is it? Can you walk or bike instead? Even if you can’t walk or bike, you can still switch to public transport. Public transport often includes having to walk to or from a station, which may definitely add more walking into your day. You’ll probably save some money on parking too.
- Skip The Elevator
Next time you need to head up the floor, skip the elevator and take the stairs instead! Climbing upstairs is an easy way to get your heart pumping and stretch your body.
- Stand During Meetings
Next time you have a meeting that can’t be a walking meeting, see if you can stand the whole time. Chances are your boss won’t mind, and you’ll feel less sleepy. And if you are the boss, try to encourage your employees to stand during meetings. You can do this by stacking all the chairs or moving all the chairs to one side of the room instead of having them set up around the table.
- Use Your Wait Time
If you are waiting for something, such as for the microwave to finish or documents to print, do a few exercises while you wait. Calf raises are a good standing in place exercise which won’t draw too much attention, but if you are in an area without other people try a few jumping jacks or squats instead to really get your body moving.
- Plan Active Hang Outs
When planning things with your friends, try to plan something more active than going to the movies or out to dinner. If you both have pets, suggest a pet play date in the park, or maybe an evening walk downtown to window shop. You could even invite your friend to a fun dance class, the possibilities are endless!
- Make Chores A Dance Party
Turns out Cinderella had it right! Everyone has those boring chores like vacuuming, laundry, or dishes. So, make these more fun by cranking up your music and making your chores a dance party! Not only will you get your body moving more, but you’ll probably start to enjoy chores a bit more fun.
- Do Your Errands on Foot
If you live in an urban area, do any of the errands you can on foot. You will probably find this is more enjoyable anyway as it will be less stressful to get your errands done, and you don’t have to worry about parking or gas. All while you get a little exercise!
- Do Outdoor Chores
Outdoor chores are the ones people tend to farm out to others the most. Although it may not seem like fun to rake leaves, mow the lawn, or pull weeds, these activities can really do wonders to help you be more active in your life. Next time your yard needs a little help, resist the urge to call someone and do the job yourself instead.
- Plan Outdoor Date Nights
Date nights seem to always be planned inside, either sitting at dinner, or watching a movie. Change this by planning an outdoor date night in a fun location. Consider a romantic evening picnic, sunset hike, or an evening bike ride.
Generally, it is best if you try to stretch every morning when you wake up, but this doesn’t have to be the only time you stretch throughout the day. In fact, you should stretch any time you feel any sort of muscle discomfort. If you’re struggling to think of things to do in your 2-3 minute breaks every hour, filling this time with stretching can be great for your body.
- Walk After Dinner
In the US, after a large meal, most people migrate to the couch to digest. And while this may seem easier, it isn’t the healthy answer! So, try not to spend your evening in front of the TV, clean-up after dinner and go on an evening walk, you may just be surprised at how much better you feel.
- Shop Local
With the advent of the internet, time people used to spend shopping on foot has turned into time sitting as well. So next time you need to purchase something, head to the actual store instead of buying the product online. This will not only give you more exercise but can help small local businesses in your area as well.
- Clean Your Home
Although it may be tempting to spend more time watching TV and hire a maid to clean your home, cleaning really is a good physical activity. So, if you have the time, ditch the TV, and clean your house yourself instead.
- Start A Workplace Challenge
If you work in a large office, the chances are you aren’t the only one who wants to move more. Talk to your boss about the possibility of starting a challenge within the office to be more active. The prize could be something simple such as a gift card for free coffee for the person who moves the most. Even if you aren’t allowed to start something official, don’t be afraid to ask a few coworkers to join you in a private challenge to see who can get the most steps in a day.
- Talk To Colleagues Instead of Email
In an office setting, it can be tempting to email your coworkers when you need something. It’s time to put a stop to this practice, get in the habit of getting up to walk to your coworkers’ desk instead. Chances are you’ll enjoy the break and experience less communication issues this way.
- Pace While You Watch Kid’s Games
If your weekends are filled with kids’ soccer or football games, you are probably used to bringing a chair to sit in while you watch. Instead, ditch the chair and walk up and down the field from the sidelines watching the action. This way you’ll have a better view and you’ll get to be more active in the process.
- Walk With Your Child
Walking regularly is a good habit to instill in your child while they are still young. If they are too young to walk, you can take them out for some fresh air in a stroller. Once they are old enough to walk, but tire easily, you can encourage them to bike or scooter while you walk alongside them. You’ll both enjoy the exercise and this way your child will begin forming good habits when it comes to health early on
- Scope The Entire Grocery Store
When you shop in your usual grocery store, it can be tempting to just go to the aisle you need and head out. Try instead to practice walking up and down each aisle—even if you don’t need something from that aisle. But make sure you write a list and stick to that list so you don’t find yourself buying a bunch of items that you don’t need.
- Wear Comfy Shoes
You’re unlikely to want to move or walk if your shoes are hurting you, so invest in a good comfy pair which complies with your work standards. If you are having trouble finding some which look professional enough, you could also consider investing in some inserts which will help make walking more comfortable for you. If you’re a woman, and your work allows you to wear flats, do so, as this is the best for your feet.
- Start Your Morning with Yoga
You don’t have to do a full yoga class but try simply setting your alarm five minutes earlier each morning and do a few quick moments of yoga to get you going.
Studies have shown just by starting your morning with a little motion, you are more likely to remain active all day, so if you can do a full workout in the morning before work, do so!
- Walk The Long Route
If there are two routes to walk somewhere, consider taking the long one. And this doesn’t just mean outside. If you work in an office which has two routes to the bathroom, take the longer one on your bathroom breaks. This will help add more steps to your day without even trying.
- Create Multiple Workstations
Whether you work at home, or in an office, design your work station with movement in mind. Put the trash can far away, set up the printer in another room, whatever you need to do to encourage yourself to move during the day.
You can even get really creative and set up a floor sitting area where you can read memos, this way you’ll have a reason to switch your sitting positions as you move from the chair to the floor.
If you have a desire to boost your overall well-being, getting in a little more enjoyable movement can really help! This list is just some of the things that I have tried and I encourage you to do what feels good for you and is within your ability. You can get pretty creative by simply adjusting some of the activities you already engage in and enjoy. Remember, anyone can improve their health with some tweaks and consistency!