The start of a new year is the time many people decide to add a regular exercise habit to their routines. It's not long, however, until they fall back into old, comfortable patterns. Even with a solid workout plan and a set time to do it, it can be difficult to increase the amount of movement you get each day.
The good news is that even small changes can have a lot of health benefits. Unless you're training for a specific event, you can gradually add more movement and build up to a consistent routine. It's just a matter of being mindful of the choices you have throughout the day.
Don't Just Stand There
Think about all the time you spend standing around during your day. There may be more instances than you suspect:
- Queuing up at the grocery store
- Waiting for your table at the restaurant
- Talking to coworkers in the hall
- Passing time in the waiting room at your doctor's office
All of these situations are opportunities to add extra movement. You may be free to take a walk around the block instead of just standing. If you must stay in line, you can stretch your arms or do calf raises while you wait.
Take a Walk
Walking is one of the most underrated forms of exercise. It is great for your cardiovascular health, though. As an added bonus, most people can do it without any major effort or special equipment.
Take some time to map out walk paths around your workplace. If you're lucky enough to have a park nearby, you can take a scenic walk on your lunch break before you eat. Choose a restaurant that is a block or two away. Miss the mad dash out of the parking garage at rush hour by taking a 30-minute walk after work. Once you start looking for them, you'll probably find more chances walk than you expect.
Incorporate Frequent Breaks
It is commonly thought that shutting out all distractions and sticking to a task until it's done is the way to be more efficient. However, research indicates that taking frequent breaks actually tends to lead to more productivity. About once an hour, get up from your desk and move around. Even if you just walk up the stairs to another floor several times a day, you are adding a lot of steps.
If you work from home, this may be more of a challenge, particularly if there are other demands that could pull you away from your workspace longer than you intend. If this is the case, there are several things you can do right at your desk to take a break from sitting at the computer. Take ten minutes to stretch. Put on a song that you like and dance while it plays. You can even run in place for a few minutes to get the blood pumping. It only takes five or six short breaks throughout the day to add 30 minutes of exercise.
Track Your Progress
Most people enjoy seeing the tangible results of their efforts. Better heart health or stronger muscles are not necessarily something you can readily notice, though. You may find that you're feeling better over time, but it's more motivating to get more immediate feedback.
This is where tracking your progress comes in handy. Use a device that counts your steps. If you don't want to wear a watch all day, you can also make your own chart and keep track of your movements that way. Being able to see how much you're doing can inspire you to keep up the good work and maybe even challenge yourself more.
Adding more movement to your day doesn't have to take a major overhaul to your lifestyle. Small changes are the first step to meeting your new goals.