If you’re like a lot of people, you don’t move as much as you should. The average American spends at least 10 hours a day planted in a chair: watching TV, surfing the internet, talking on the phone and reading. That means we’re not meeting the goal of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week recommended by the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. But take heart: There are some simple ways to up your exercise without even hitting the gym. Here are some tips to fit in fitness throughout your day.
Hook a pedometer onto your body
Studies show that when people are keeping track of their steps, they tend to walk more. Trying to hit a daily step goal (a good number is 10,000 steps per day) prompts you to move it when you haven’t reached the number you’re aiming for. Make it a friendly competition by challenging your spouse, a friend or a co-worker to see who can rack up the most steps in a day or a week. There are dozens of inexpensive but reliable pedometers for less than $20.
Don’t waste commercial time
While watching TV, get up and do a minute of jumping jacks or a minute of knee raises every time a commercial comes on. Research from the University of Tennessee — Knoxville, found that participants who were asked to step in place during commercials added an average of 3,000 daily steps — and ended up decreasing their TV viewing over the six-month period.
Make multiple trips when you’re doing laundry or carrying groceries in from the car. Carry just one basket of clothes at a time, or one bag of groceries. By making multiple, frequent trips, you add activity to your day.
Do all your own household chores
Clean the house, mow the lawn (don’t use a riding mower!), rake leaves and wash your car by hand. The reaching, twisting, stretching and lifting these tasks require all burn calories. Instead of using a mop on your floors, try using some elbow grease and hand-scrubbing it. You can burn about 120 calories in just 30 minutes.
Set an activity alarm
Whether you’re working or browsing websites, set an alarm on your computer or tablet for every 50 minutes. When the alarm goes off, get up, stretch and walk around for a few minutes before returning to your desk.
Start your day with a quick walk around the block
Nothing intense, nothing long — just a brisk walk to get you going. Leave your walking shoes by the door before bed so you’ll be ready. Listen to your favorite morning news program while you walk, and you won’t feel tempted to sit down to watch the morning news when you return.
Hit the floor and stretch
Stretching while watching television or a movie is an easy way to increase flexibility. If you spend your commercial breaks walking or doing jumping jacks, spend the first few minutes after each commercial on the floor stretching.
Park the cart for quick trips
If you need just a handful of items at the grocery store, take two reusable bags and throw them over your shoulders. Put your food in the bags as you shop. While you wait to pay, hold the bags by your sides and do shoulder shrugs.
(Diabetic Living is a magazine and website with a mission to give people with diabetes (PWDs) and the people who love and care for them the information needed to make the best health decisions in their day-to-day diabetes care. Online at www.diabeticlivingonline.com.)
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Erin O’Donnell is a freelance health and science writer, parent, and graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Walks by Lake Michigan make her happy.