Small steps to increase physical activity

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Small steps to increase physical activity

Regular physical activity is essential for good health and happiness. People with very active jobs (i.e. construction worker, mail carrier) and those who frequently exercise typically reach the weekly recommended activity level of 150 minutes.* However, the majority of Americans do not reach this amount because they either have less active jobs or are simply not ready to commit to an exercise routine (or both). 

If you need be more active, make sure that you are always on the lookout for little ways to move more. Here are 35 small ways to increase physical activity throughout your day:

  1. Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  2. Park farther away from the front door
  3. Stand instead of sitting (this burns more calories)
  4. Take a walk on your lunch break
  5. Walk or bike to your destination instead of driving
  6. Sit on an exercise ball at your desk instead of a chair (this builds core strength)
  7. Do stretches or ride a stationary bike while watching TV
  8. During commercial breaks do abdominal crunches, jumping jacks, push-ups, or simply get up and walk around
  9. Take a 10 minute walk in the morning and/or evening
  10. Play outside with your kids
  11. Take the baby or kids for a stroller or wagon ride
  12. Walk or run as your kids ride their bikes
  13. Instead of sitting, walk around while watching your child’s sporting event
  14. Take your dog for a walk (if you already do this, try making the walk longer or faster)
  15. Do squats or lunges while waiting for your food to cook in the microwave
  16. Do a few squats while brushing your teeth
  17. Do calf raises while getting ready in front of the bathroom mirror
  18. Take a walk when you are frustrated or bored (instead of eating)
  19. Plant a garden
  20. Maintain your garden (weeding, pruning, etc.)
  21. Go for a walk with a friend instead of meeting for coffee
  22. Have “walking meetings” at work when meeting with small groups of people (instead of meeting in a room, get up and walk around while talking) 
  23. Keep hand weights at your desk. Do bicep and tricep exercises while on phone calls
  24. Turn on the music and dance around the house
  25. Instead of making piles around the house, put things back in their place right away
  26. Do house work regularly
  27. Wash the car by hand instead of the drive-through car wash
  28. Take an extra walk through the grocery store aisles before you check out
  29. Get off the bus one stop early and walk to your destination
  30. Shovel instead of using the snowblower
  31. Rake leaves instead of using a leaf blower
  32. Walk through your golf game instead of driving a cart
  33. Get up and walk around after sitting for 30 minutes
  34. Take a short walk on your lunch break
  35. Wear a good quality pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps per day

Additional Resources

American Council on Exercise

Shape Up America

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