People are more sedentary than ever given desk jobs and longer days, and the pandemic hasn't helped, but there are easy ways to get your body moving for better health and vitality.
In today’s hectic world, staying active has become increasingly difficult. Extended work hours, looking after the kids and loved ones, and preparing meals are just some of the tasks that occupy our time and keep us from what our bodies crave: more movement! Add in an ongoing pandemic where many people are firmly planted at home with few places to go and little else to do, and you see why people are less active.
This trend toward relative inactivity may have a significant negative impact on your physical health. Being sedentary can contribute to a host of serious conditions, such as obesity, cardiovascular problems, diabetes and more. There may also be a link between inactivity and mental health issues like depression.
Any movement is helpful
The good thing is that it doesn’t require significant activity to improve your physical and mental health. Of course, regular exercise is beneficial for you in many ways, but if you can’t find the time for that, there are still ways to increase your activity level. Just be mindful of finding opportunities throughout the day to move your body.
If you’re stuck sitting at a computer for long periods of time, take short breaks to walk around (e.g., get up every 20-30 mins to stretch your legs), and maybe do a few push-ups or squats if you can manage it. Consider getting some fresh air by taking a walk before or after work, or at lunchtime. If you have stairs at home, try walking up and down based on whatever you can handle.
Remember, this isn’t an intense exercise routine, but a way to squeeze in some more activity. Every little bit helps and can add up to have a meaningful positive impact on your health and mood.
Being active is easier than we think
Getting started with physical activity and sticking with it shouldn’t be daunting. Here are a few tips to boost your movement during the day:
- Attempt something different. If you’ve always been interested in trying a certain activity (e.g., yoga, Pilates, juggling) but never got around to it, now’s a great time to start. Things like yoga mats and exercise bands are easy to order online, if you don’t have them. Learn at your own pace and keep striving to improve. Similarly, maybe you’ve done these activities before but have stopped for whatever reason. It could be time to rekindle your interest.
- Make the most of household tasks. Chores can be a great way to move your body, tone your muscles and burn some calories. For example, as you vacuum or mop the floor, you can work your core by intermittently contracting your abdominal muscles. Or, if you’re washing dishes by hand, try marching in place or doing some calf raises. You get the idea – find creative ways to add a little extra movement whenever you can.
- Make it social. If you need more motivation, reach out to family or friends who may want to achieve similar goals regarding physical activity. Compare notes on what’s working and what’s not. If you live in the same home or can connect virtually, try staying active together. Maybe turn it into a friendly competition to keep everyone engaged and inspired. You can find many classes and ideas online to help you have fun and stay motivated. The important thing is to keep up your activity level, so if it helps to involve other people – even virtually – do it!
- Home gyms, made easy. You don’t need fancy or expensive equipment to increase your activity level at home. Everyday household items can do the trick. Common items include using a broomstick for abdominal twists, doing squats or bicep curls holding canned goods, or walking around with a weighted backpack. Look around your home and you’ll come up with innovative ways to do some exercise.