Simple Swaps for a More Active Lifestyle
Walk instead of drive, take the stairs instead of the elevator, go out and rake leaves instead of watching TV — we all know how to work extra activity into our daily routines. These tricks come in handy especially as the weather turns colder, and it becomes harder to get the exercise that helps us feel well and thrive.
How much exercise do we actually need? According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), children should strive for at least 60 minutes of activity a day, while adults need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week. For added health benefits, adults should work up to 300 minutes and integrate muscle-building activities at least a couple of times a week.
If you’re like many of us, your daily routine is jam-packed, and you wonder how you can make room for anything else. The good news? We can achieve the same health benefits by exercising in 10-minute increments instead of all at once. And just like the simple swaps we can make in our kitchen to improve our diets, we can swap sedentary for physical activities — and achieve greater fitness goals that boost our health and well-being. To get started, consider these fun, easy swaps for the office, home, and gym.
At the office
With advances in technology, our jobs have become sedentary, and many of us spend the bulk of our time sitting in front of a computer. Yet we can do plenty to fit bursts of physical activity into our work days.
- Instead of meeting your colleagues in an office or conference room, try a “walking meeting” — and do just what the term suggests: take a walk while you meet.
- Make room for regular stretch breaks every 30 to 45 minutes. Get up from your desk, walk around, and stretch your muscles. While sitting, try doing yoga exercises at your desk a few times each day.
- Swap your sit-down desk for one that lets you stand (or one that lets you alternate between sitting and standing). This move alone comes with hefty health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a higher metabolism.
After a long day of school or work, it’s easy to settle in on the couch — and not get up. Try swapping whatever sedentary activity you do for something active.
- Challenge your family to a fitness competition, and track how many push-ups, sit-ups, or jumping jacks each family member can do, or even how long you can jump rope or hula-hoop.
- Lift hand weights or jog in place as you watch the news or your favorite TV show.
- Put on music and dance as you cook or clean up the kitchen.
- Bundle up and head outdoors with flashlights for an evening stroll.
If your family plays video games together, opt for active gaming that gets you up and moving, and helps kids and adults alike boost their physical activity, reduce or maintain their weight, and let loose together as a family.
At the gym
Many of us are creatures of habit and gravitate to the same fitness regimen day after day, year after year. Mix it up, and make it fun.
- Designate days to focus on various body parts — Monday work on the upper body, Wednesday the lower body, and Friday the abs. Alternatively, devote Monday to cardio, Tuesday to strength training, Thursday to flexibility, and so on.
- Swap your solitary workout for a group fitness class like yoga, cardio dance, spinning, or body pump. Or take to the basketball or racquetball court with a friend.
While it’s easy to stick to the same exercise regimen, venture out and try something new. If you love high-intensity cardio workouts, mix in some strength training, stretching, or meditation. And if you always head straight to the free weights, make a detour to the rock climbing wall or rowing machine.
Modern gyms have many options for people of all fitness levels. Don’t worry about being the “best.” Just get out there, explore new possibilities, and enjoy moving around.
What new fitness activity do you want to try? Let us know on Facebook!