Inject Some Unstructured Activity into Your Day
I frequently like to remind myself, and my patients, that getting physical activity doesn’t always have to be in the form of a structured workout. Remember- workouts are a relatively recent construct. They compensate for the fact that we don’t get enough physical work in our regular lives. Nobody “worked out” 100 years ago. They didn’t need to. Exercise was inherent in their lifestyle, provided by walking, hauling, farming, etc. In our modern, convenience-driven world, however, we need to inject all the opportunities we can for movement and activity, as a means of keeping us young, healthy, and pain-free. So, here are some great ways to increase your daily activity without having to snap on the spandex and hit the gym:
- Get a pedometer. It measures the number of steps you take everyday. Work toward 10,000 steps per day as a goal.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park further away, rather than driving that extra three minutes finding a spot closest to the front door.
- For small grocery trips, carry a basket instead of pushing a cart.
- Do calf raises (rising up on your toes) and isometric exercises (contract and hold major muscle groups for 20 seconds) while in the shower.
- When at the desk or computer, have a timer that reminds you to get up and move every 30 minutes. Stand up, rotate & bend at the waist…reach overhead…lean through an open doorway to stretch your chest/pecs.
- Have some exercise tubing in a desk drawer at work and do some arm curls, presses, and rows a few times a day.
- Use an exercise ball as a seat several hours a day- roll and bounce on it for core strength.
- When watching TV, exercise at the commercials. Squats, ab crunches, stretches.
- Suck in your stomach 5 times a day for a hold of 10-15 seconds. This is a wonderful way to strengthen the core & support the spine.
Look for opportunities every chance you get for a little physical effort during your day, rather than opting for convenience. You’ll be surprised how strong, flexible, and mobile it can make you in a very short period of time.