Staying Fit Does not Require Going to the Gym
Getting more exercise is something many of us are concerned about. When did exercise become a chore? Something that you have to schedule and requires equipment? Did you know that 67% of Americans have gym memberships they don’t use? I don’t have anything against gyms, but if your only exercise in a week is 3 one-hour sessions, you may not be getting the benefits you think you are. Yes, you might have a nice physique, but if the rest of your time is spent sitting at a desk, in the car, and on the couch, you’re putting yourself at risk for:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Coronary heart disease
- Mood disorders
- Increased risk of stroke
- Faster progression of bone loss
- Lower immunity
- Faster aging
- Slower recovery from injury and illness
- Insomnia or restless sleep
The Solution for More Exercise is Simple
Sitting all day isn’t normal. Our bodies are meant to be in motion. In fact, science has shown that light movement throughout the day with short burst of high intensity movement is much more effective than longer workouts.
Here are 25 ways to fit more exercise in your day:
- Get a dog. You many not feel motivated to take yourself for a walk, but taking responsibility for the well-being of another will get you out.
- Catch up with walking visits. Instead of asking a friend to meet up for coffee, meet at a local trail or explore a neighborhood.
- Play with the kids. Don’t just sit and think about how adorable they are. Join them!
- Take commercial breaks. When watching your favorite shows, take advantage of commercial time to get in a quick workout.
- Dance. Turn on some music and get your groove on while doing chores.
- Make your chores a little bit harder. Take your grocery bags in one at a time. Fold laundry on a different floor from where things get put away and carry one pile at a time.
- Install a pullup bar. Whenever you go through that doorway, do a pullup.
- Random jumping jacks. Like right now. Just do 10 jumping jacks. Or 10 pushups, or crunches, or a plank. You get the idea.
- Don’t just stand there. Waiting for water to boil? Do some standing pushups against the counter. Brushing your teeth? Stretch your hamstrings on the edge of the tub.
- Wash your car. Skip the car wash and do it yourself.
- Do yard work. Plant a garden, pull weeds, shovel snow, rake leaves.
- Have more sex. Yep, I said it.
- Pace or stretch while you’re on the phone. Or do some squats and calf presses!
- Use a timer. If you have a desk job, set a timer to remind yourself to get up every 40 minutes and move around.
- Take the long route. When at work or school, go to the bathroom or drinking fountain that’s farther away.
- Take the stairs. Both ways. And just say “no” to moving sidewalks and escalators.
- Schedule walking meetings. If you have a meeting at work, does it have to be sitting at a table, or can you walk and talk instead?
- Walk to your coworker’s desk. Just because you can communicate electronically doesn’t mean you should.
Out and About
- Park farther from your destination. When running errands, park a few blocks from where you need to go. Bring a backpack if you’re shopping. If taking public transportation, get off at an early stop.
- Ride a bike. Ditch the car altogether and walk or ride your bike instead. (or skateboard, unicycle, non-motorized scooter…)
- Wear a step counter. A pedometer, Fitbit, or anything that counts your steps is a good motivator to do more stepping!
- Join a team. Joining a sports team not only gives you something active to look forward to, but the commitment to your teammates will get you out when you’re not feeling like it.
- Take advantage of wait times. If you take a loved one to an appointment or lesson, use the wait time to get in a walk. If you’re early to something, take a lap around the block.
- Volunteer. There’s all kinds of volunteer jobs that involve being active. For example, coaching a team, packing food boxes, or cleaning up a park.
- Skip the grocery cart. Carry a basket instead.
Getting more exercise doesn’t have to be hard. It just requires getting into some new habits. In his book, The Art of Stopping Time, Pedram Shojai says that if you “build a culture of moving around all day,” not only will you generally be in better health, but when you do participate in higher intensity exercise you will get much more benefit from it.
This post is part of a series following the 100-day gong practice developed by Pedram Shojai for The Art of Stopping Time. If you would like to read other posts in the series, click here. If you would like to receive emails following the series from the beginning, click here.