Remember that we need about 10,000 steps a day for an active lifestyle. Here are some ways to increase your daily steps:
- Park in the far back of the parking lot so the walk to the door is longer.
• Get off the bus a stop or two before your usual stop, and walk the rest of the way.
• Use the workplace entrance that is farthest from your parking spot or bus stop, and walk through the building to your work area.
• Don’t just stand- pace; when waiting for the bus, waiting at an elevator, or in other waiting situations, pace around in circles rather than just standing.
• Circle the room when waiting for meetings to start.
• When at work, use the farthest reasonable option for restroom, copy machine, water fountain, and break room.
• Take the stairs rather than the elevator, especially for one to three floors- both up and down.
• When making a phone call, stand up and pace around while talking.
• Rather than using phone or email, walk to a co-worker’s office or neighbor’s house and converse face-to-face.
• When people stop to talk with you, make it a moving meeting and walk around together while chatting.
• Hide the TV remote and walk to the TV to change channels.
• During TV commercials, get up and walk around the house.
• When doing errands, park in a central location and walk to your destinations.
• Return the shopping cart all the way into the store after grocery shopping.
• Use drive-throughs less often; instead, park and walk into the bank or fast-food place.
Short dedicated walks
- March in place for several minutes; every 30 minutes, get up from your desk or easy chair and walk in place for 1 to 5 minutes, stretching your arms, shoulders and neck.
• Before and/or after eating lunch, take a 10-minute walking break.
• Walk the dog.
• Review your usual trips in the car. Could you walk instead of drive to any of yur usual destinations, such as the post office?
- When transporting your children to and from sports or other activities, dedicate 10 to 20 minutes of that time to walking around after dropping them off or before picking them up.
• When waiting at the airport, secure your bags and take a good walk around the terminal area.
In other words, make an effort to just get moving – up off the couch and into a more active lifestyle. Your body will reward you by running on all cylinders.
Practicing what I preach
“Pat,” you may ask, “what do you do for physical activity?” Since returning from Venezuela, where I walked most places or, at least, to and from buses, taxis or the subway, I eventually purchased a NordicTrack Cross Country Skier that I have used for about 12 years. It gives me an indoor choice for exercise if it is too hot, cold, or rainy outside. It also combines aerobic and resistance training. There are many similar products on the market ranging from steppers to treadmills to ellipticals and more. I like to walk or work out on the skier most days for about one hour (I estimate 6,000 steps) and alternate with strength training- either free weights or a home weight machine. I exercise using a 20-minute vigorous aerobic workout video on the days I don’t have an hour for physical activity. I noticed that when I crossed the 50-year milestone, I had to add strength training to aerobic exercise just to keep my weight normal. I am not fanatical, but I try to do some intentional exercise every day. I average five to six days a week. But life happens, so when I have to go a few days without intentional exercise because of a demanding schedule, I go up and down the stairs at school several times a day or walk around campus to get in extra steps and sunshine! Since I know approximately how many steps I take in 5 minutes (I estimate 500), I know how long I need to walk to get to 10,000 steps a day. When time allows, my husband and I walk or hike together.
Everyone is different. There are so many activities that can keep us active. My husband likes to jog outside and lift weights. Some people prefer active games or team sports. To each his own- just make sure significant movement happens every day!
In the biochemistry of our bodies, the presence of oxygen is necessary to burn calories. Increased physical activity and exercise not only decrease incidence of stress-related diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, but also improve overall physical and emotional health. Increased lean body mass (muscle mass) and improved lung capacity make our bodies more efficient at burning the calories that we eat and the calories that are stored in our bodies as carbohydrate and fat! This, in turn, raises our basal metabolic rate. So if we build lean body mass and increase lung capacity and practice deep breathing to bring in more oxygen – then even at rest, we will be expending more calories. What a deal!
For physical activity/exercise, choose the following:
- Common chores
- Sports activities
- Aerobic activity (intentional)
- Flexibility exercises
- Strength or resistance exercises
- Added daily activity for 10,000 steps
Remember: Most importantly, just get moving!
If you’d like to dig deeper into my journey of discovering God’s plan for health and wellness, check out my book, Made For Paradise: God’s Original Plan for Healthy Eating, Physical Activity, and Rest.