Take a minute to think about the hours of your day. How much of that time is spent seated or lying down? Regular workout sessions are great, but they may not be enough to negate an otherwise sedentary lifestyle.
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is a term for all of your daily movement separate from structured exercise. This includes walking from your car to the office, carrying groceries, playing with your dog and even fidgeting. This daily movement is vital to weight management and health.
Research shows that people who are impacted by obesity sit an average of 2.5 hours more per day than their normal-weight counterparts. However, they could burn an additional 350 calories daily with increased NEAT (Levine et al., 2006). That may not sound like much, but those calories add up to 3 pounds of weight loss in a month, or 36 pounds in a year, all without setting foot in a gym.
If you struggle to find time for activity, it’s time to think beyond the sets and reps. Here are seven ways to get more movement into your day.
Get a Sit-to-stand Desk
While standing compared to sitting may not seem like much, the benefits are impressive. One study had office workers either sit or stand for three hours a day after lunch. Standing helped lower employees’ blood sugar levels and they burned an additional 174 calories, when compared to sitting (Buckley et al., 2013).
Don’t get rid of your chair just yet. Rather, get a desk attachment that can be raised and lowered so you have the option to move between seated and standing positions, building your standing stamina over time.
Set Movement Alarms
You’ve likely set an intention to move more during your workday in the past and been too busy to remember. Use your phone alarm to set reminders that prompt you to get up and move. Better yet, get a coworker in on your plan. Movement breaks can include anything from chair squats to a walk around the office to gentle stretching. Don’t worry too much about what you do—just get up and move.
Create a Movement Movement
If your workplace culture doesn’t support regular movement, it’s time to shake things up. The idea of standing at a meeting or pacing as you talk on the phone may seem odd now, but as you and others adopt more mobile habits, these activities will become the workplace norm. Speak to management and coworkers about the importance of regular movement. Suggest walking meetings, stand-and-stretch breaks, bike-to-work days or active team-building events.
Let Your Kids Play Time Be Your Play Time
When rushing from work to pick up kids and hustle to soccer practice, it can feel as though there’s no time for exercise. Make use of your evenings by completing your own physical activity during your kids’ practice. Offer to help out with the team (you’ll be surprised what a workout you get shagging balls) or join other parents to create a walking or outdoor workout crew.
Active TV Time
Americans watch an average of five hours of TV a day. Rather than tossing out your television, create a realistic goal of moving more while you watch. Stand or march, do periodic couch push-ups or squats, or perform gentle stretches. Commit to a 10-minute walk before the start of each show. This is especially beneficial for blood-sugar control after dinner.
On the Go
Active transit doesn’t have to mean selling your car and biking to work each day. It includes parking farther away, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking to coworkers’ offices instead of sending emails. Examine all the ways you get from A to B and consider where you can add more movement into your day.
People often view travel as a barrier to their regular exercise routine. However, with the right mindset, movement can be easily integrated. Many airports now have gyms or yoga rooms and most hotels have onsite fitness equipment. Beyond structuring regular exercise into your trips, simply consider how you can move more. Can you walk to sight see? Perform push-ups off your hotel bed before heading out for the day? The key is to maintain regular movement, regardless of your conditions or schedule.
Commit to Move
Daily activity is crucial for a sound mind and healthy body. Rather than trying to cram more hours for exercise into a packed day, examine your lifestyle and find ways to add more movement into your current routine.