Written by Jonathan Glick; BS-ESS, CPT-ACE.
1. Park the the back lot or as far as possible away from the entrance in the building you work at. If you find a “designated” spot that is always open you can make this a habit. For instance, at the college I teach at I park by the “J pole” or the next available spot (further away). It’s now ingrained in me as a positive habit and I don’t often think twice about it.
2. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. You can make exceptions, such as only walking the first 5, or 10 flights of stairs; or start with only walking up the stairs, or only using the stairs. When necessary, commit to something you’ll stick with, rather than trying the “all or nothing” approach.
3. Instead of emailing or phoning an associate that works in your building, deliver a message to them personally. Not only do you get more steps and thus more physical activity, it gets you out of your chair for a welcome break; plus you and your associate will benefit from open, in-person communication and it could help your work relationships.
4. Eat lunch on the “go.” Instead of eating your lunch sitting down, think about taking a walking lunch. No need to incorporate power walks but there are many foods easily edible while doing a short walk around the office, park or mall on your lunch break; and it’s definitely better than sitting!!
5. Microwave Push Ups. Warming up your morning coffee? Heating up last nights leftovers? Challenge yourself to complete as many counter top push ups as you can while the microwave is going. You can also do other exercises that require only your body weight, such as squats or lunges, or go all out with some Burpees!
6. Never just wait, ever again! You may find yourself completing tasks in which you have no choice but to wait. Just like the the microwave Push Ups, you can use down time, or “N.E.T.” time (No Extra Time) to complete a few exercises – heel raises while standing in line, lunges while waiting for that download to finish, Paper Ream Arm Curls in the office waiting for copies to finish, or even a whole-body workout while you’re working on laundry!
7. Get out of the car! At the bank, fast food place (gasp! but you’re getting a salad..) or other locations you typically go through a drive through. You body will love you for getting out and stretching those legs!
8. Take the Heavy Bag. Are you in school or remember when? All those text books sure got heavy. But now to increase your fitness you can carry them on purpose. Add some weight via books or other means to your gym bag, suitcase (if possible) or briefcase. The extra weight = extra calories, plus you can use your bags and cases for weight when you’re completing some on-the-go exercises like mentioned in idea # 6. Don’t forget to keep your posture more properly aligned by double strapping back packs!
9. Shovel snow from your neighbor’s sidewalk. Good deeds ALWAYS come with benefits, and extra physical activity and caloric expenditure is just one of them that comes from helping out your neighbor in this way. You don’t have to stop with snow shoveling, as raking leaves, gardening, planting flowers, or mowing lawns are also great alternatives.
10. Use a manual can opener. Yes, you read that right. The more often we do things manually, the longer we will be able to do things, manually or otherwise! It’s not time or age that plays the most critical factor in our dependency as we grow older, but lack of movement or the simply act of doing. Think about how by completing such simple tasks using manual tools rather than power tools you can not only increase physical activity but start creating the right mindset for lifelong wellness as well.
11. KILL YOUR TV! OK, this is tough one right, but if you’re not going to go all out… there are alternatives to help increase your activity while you watch TV. The obvious solution is working out while doing so, even if its something simple as riding a stationary bike. Or how about instead of channel surfing with the remote you simply get up to change the channel rather than using a remote? WARNING: You may find yourself doing other things you enjoy (reading, gardening, and working out!) after you got up 74 times because there wasn’t anything worth watching on!
12. You don’t have to get rid of your TV, really. But if you can find time to watch television, you certainly can also find the time to workout – even if you don’t decrease the amount of time you watch TV. Here’s another no-extra-time idea: the Commercial Sprint & Stretch! Here’s how to do it: While you’re watching TV, as soon as a commercial comes on you run out your door and sprint down the street 4, 5, 6 or even 10 houses in length; then jog or walk back to your house. You don’t have to stop there, you can fit in other activities while the commercials on. A few sets of strength training for instance; or just stretch during commercials as well. Since the typical commercial is 30 seconds you can even use them as a timer for when to switch to a new stretch.
13. Run to the store. Literally. Of course you can walk, bike, roller blade or even skateboard! Since most errands are within an easy bike ride from home, you can consider using non-motorized vehicles on short trips. What is within a 10 minute walk or bike ride from your home? Consider this or another time or distance length, and commit to doing it anytime the weather is nice enough outside to do so.
14. Cook your own meals. Another small item but can add up your daily movement and activity over time. Not only are cooked meals typically more healthy, tasty and less expensive (added benefits!), it surely takes more personal physical activity to make a meal yourself rather than going out or ordering in.
15. Open up your own door! Just like elevators and escalators, there’s a time, place and need for automatic doors, but unless it’s necessity for you, consider going through doors you have to push or pull open yourself. When you start purposefully thinking, and doing these kinds of activities in the name of physical activity, you can truly change your mindset about your physical capabilities and willingness to EASILY add physical activity your your daily routine, even without structured exercise!