For those of us trying to get healthier, a sedentary lifestyle can be a major obstacle! Many people struggle with finding ways to stay active. Between work schedules, commuting, family obligations, and the popularity of working from home, it can be hard to find opportunities to exercise.
Luckily, healthy movement doesn’t have to look like going to the gym or attending fitness classes. If you want to get fitter, but have no idea of where to start, here are some proven techniques for making sure that you move more every day!
10 Ways to Get More Physical Activity Every Day
1. Use a wearable fitness tracker to quantify your steps per day
One of the best ways to be proactive about increasing your physical activity is to monitor it, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to invest in a wearable fitness tracker, such as a smartwatch.
These devices can give you a more realistic idea of how much you’re moving, and thus make it easy to know when you should be moving more.
In addition to making it easier to actually quantify the amount that you’re walking, there’s also evidence that using a wearable fitness tracker can actually lead to a natural increase in movement.
For example, a systematic review found that fitness tracker use led to users getting in an extra 1,800 steps a day and 40 more minutes of walking on average (not to mention about 1 kg of weight loss).
2. Take regular walks during your lunch break or before work
If you find that a busy work schedule is one of the main obstacles getting in the way of your ability to get more physical activity, you may need to take advantage of the downtime that you do have throughout the day, even if it seems too short to be effective.
For example, a study was conducted to compare the benefits of walking in short 10-minute bouts versus longer 30-minute sessions.
The researchers ultimately found that, while the participants who did longer 30-minute walks ultimately saw bigger improvements in various health metrics, the group that broke their walks into three short 10-minute bouts still saw significantly increased physical activity as well as improved diastolic blood pressure when compared to a control group that was not prescribed a walking regimen at all.
So, on the days that you just can’t take thirty minutes or more out of your schedule for a long walk, you can still benefit from breaking up your physical activity into shorter bouts when you get the chance.
You could take a stroll during your ten-minute work breaks or while you’re on your lunch hour.
3. Start the day with a quick workout
If you find yourself starting off the day with every intention to fit in a workout after work but end up feeling too tired and unmotivated after a long day of taking care of your responsibilities to make that happen, you may benefit from starting off your morning with a quick exercise session instead!
Rather than saving it for later in the day, when you may lose motivation or run out of time due to your schedule, starting the day off with a quick morning workout can help you check your physical activity goal off of your to-do list right away.
Morning workouts may also help with habit formation, appetite/eating behaviors later in the day, and metabolic regulations caused by working out in a fasted state, all of which can add up to impactful results over time!
It may take some time to adjust to an earlier schedule, but it can lead to big payoffs over in the long run.
4. Invest in a standing desk
For a way to increase physical activity that barely feels like moving at all, simply switch your regular office desk for a standing desk instead.
Sitting too often is a major contributor to sedentary lifestyles. Using a sit-stand desk or a raised laptop stand can cut down on sedentary behaviors during your workday and has even been linked to significant improvements in fasting triglycerides and insulin resistance, both of which are important factors for your metabolic health.
Start by standing for twenty minutes, then sitting for ten. Then repeat the sequence.
Once you get more comfortable with your standing desk work set-up, you can start standing for longer periods of time, such as 45 minutes out of the hour.
To up the ante even more, you could add a walking pad underneath your desk. That could really increase your movement when you’re on the clock!
5. Change your regular commute
In addition to sitting for excessively long periods at work, you might also struggle with sitting for long periods during your commute.
So, if it’s at all feasible, consider other ways to get to work, such as walking or biking, so that you can naturally increase your physical activity during the day. Bonus point: it’ll probably be a great mood-booster, since being stuck in traffic for hours is never fun.
You can still apply this tip if walking or biking to work isn’t feasible for you, due to distance, safety, or weather. For example, you could simply start parking further away from the building where you work so that you have to go on a longer walk to get to your desk.
Or you could take the stairs instead of the elevator to get your heart rate up a little before you sit down to your day’s responsibilities.
6. Follow along with a YouTube workout or at-home fitness class
Even though hitting the gym or joining an in-person fitness class can often feel like the “gold standard” for getting a good workout, it certainly isn’t the only option. What’s more, many people find that they have too many obstacles in their schedules to attend a gym or class regularly.
So if, for whatever reason, a classic gym membership doesn’t fit in with your current lifestyle, you can still get a great workout from the comfort of your own home, by following along with video workouts!
Video workouts allow you to follow a structured workout routine without having to leave the house, making them a great option for anyone who doesn’t have the time or resources to go to a gym or class during the day.
Video workouts can also be extremely effective for helping boost your physical fitness.
A recent 2022 study found that the introduction of weekly muscle-strengthening and aerobic video workouts into fitness routines was linked to significant improvements in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, sleep efficiency, and physical activity frequency among participants.
The study also showed that afterwards, participants who did video workouts reported higher self-confidence and fewer perceived barriers to exercise!
7. Try a new sport
In a similar vein to video workouts, gym activities like lifting and running are probably the first exercises you think about when you consider increasing your physical activity. But don’t forget to consider doing sports as well!
Participating in sports and recreational activities like cycling and tennis was associated with lower odds of obesity in adults aged 40 and above.
Adding sports-based workouts to your life can be easy. For instance, you could invest in some baseball gloves and a softball and play catch with your partner or family instead of watching TV.
You could also look into your local city or town’s recreational opportunities or call your local gym to see whether they offer adult leagues for the sport of your choice.
8. Dedicate an hour a day to household chores that get you moving
They need to get done anyway, so why not try carving out some time each day for chores that you know will keep you busy and moving?
Some chores that are guaranteed to get you off your feet include weeding or pruning your garden, vacuuming, or walking the dog just one more time.
All of these chores naturally help you get moving and keep you productive in the process. Your household and your health will thank you!
9. Take frequent stretch breaks during the workday
It can be easy to lose track of time during the workday. Suddenly, you realize that you’ve spent hours in your seat, focused on the task at hand. That’s great for your job performance, of course, but excessive sitting isn’t always great for your physical health.
So, break up your work grind! To give your mind and body a much-needed break, try incorporating frequent stretches into your day.
This practice keeps you moving more, and it can even be highly beneficial for preventing pain and stiffness down the line.
For example, one study found that people who were instructed to participate in frequent stretch interventions saw significant pain reduction when compared to a control group that was not instructed to stretch regularly.
Give yourself a five-minute break every hour or so to stand up, move around, and stretch it out. If you need help reminding yourself to do this, try setting an hourly timer and recruiting your officemates.
You’ll all benefit from a much-needed mental wellness break, and you’ll be getting in some beneficial movement in the process!
10. Make your screen time double as an opportunity for exercise
There is another contributor to a sedentary lifestyle besides work and daily responsibilities: screen time. Our constant exposure to screens may eventually lead to too many hours of sedentariness.
But you don’t need to get rid of your screen time completely, especially if it’s one of your preferred ways to unwind at the end of a long day.
Instead, figure out ways to get some movement in even when you’re enjoying some well-deserved relaxation with your favorite shows or social media sites!
For example, you could try challenging yourself to do as many sit-ups as you can before the commercial break is over, or perform some Pilates or yoga while watching a movie.
Simply standing as you use social media, rather than sitting on the couch, can help you get the most out of it.
One of the best ways to make progress on your health and wellness goals is to find ways to get more movement every day. We recommend experimenting with a few different methods to find out what works best for your lifestyle.
Those little changes add up and can make a huge difference over time!