Sneak more movement into your daily routine with 14 morning-to-night strategiesBy: Hollis Templeton
If you’re stuck at a desk from 9 to 5, a daily trip to the gym may not be enough to keep you healthy. A sedentary lifestyle is the primary cause of diabetes, obesity, and fatty liver disease, even for people who exercise regularly but sit all day, suggests a 2011 research review published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. Combat sitting disease by using these round-the-clock tips to add steps and strength moves to your everyday activities.
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“Instead of simply standing while you're getting ready, try doing plié squats by the sink while brushing your teeth or sitting in a wall squat while applying makeup,” says Sammie Kennedy, creator of the Booty Camp Fitness Ultimate Home Edition 2 DVD. “While you're making breakfast, use a hand weight or a heavy item around the kitchen, like a water bottle, to do a few curls on both arms.” Then aim for 100 jumping jacks, crunches, or high knees before hopping in the shower, she suggests.
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Walking or biking to work is linked to lower prevalence of obesity, especially if your trek is 30 minutes or longer, according to a Preventative Medicine study. Got more than a few miles to cover? “Get off the train or bus one stop early and walk the rest of the way,” suggests Shirley Archer, author of Fitness 9 to 5: Easy Exercises for the Working Week. If you drive, park in the spot that’s farthest from your building, she adds.
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Once you arrive at work—or school, a doctor’s appointment or wherever you’re headed today—take the stairs whenever possible, suggests Archer. “If you don’t have time to walk up multiple flights of stairs or your office is too high, get off the elevator one flight below your destination and walk up the extra flight,” she says.
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Squeeze in steps during a long conference call by using a headset and pacing around your office or cube for the duration of your phone meeting. “Standing burns double the calories of sitting,” says Archer. “And, if you pace or step side to side, now you’ve increased your energy burn by three to four times.” If you’re camped out in a conference room, suggest an outdoor walking meeting if your group is on the small side.
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Didn’t have time to brown bag it? Walk to lunch stops that are a bit of a distance from your office instead of grabbing a sandwich at the corner café, suggests Pat Fuchs, RD, vice president of operations for Shape Up America! If you tend to lunch at your desk, make a habit of taking a 15- to 20-minute walk once you’ve finished eating. “Walking or going on a short run is a great way to rev up your metabolism midday and can serve as an effective break from your work,” notes Kennedy. “Getting in some physical activity during lunch can also serve as a great mental boost that will keep your productivity up for the afternoon.”
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When an offsite meeting takes you to a nearby neighborhood, travel on foot. If your meeting is close by, walking can be faster and cheaper than taking a taxi or bus, notes Fuchs. When errands top your afternoon to-do list, walk or bike instead of driving, suggests Kennedy.
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Your work day is at least eight hours long, and you need about eight glasses of water each day to stay hydrated. Do the math—every hour, get up and refill your cup, choosing a water cooler that’s a bit of a trek from your desk, suggests Fuchs. Check out these eight reasons to take a water break to learn how H20 helps your body function from morning to night.
In the name of exercise, work a little inefficiently. Use the printer, kitchen, and restroom that are farthest from your desk, suggests Archer. “When possible, deliver messages to colleagues in person instead of sending an email,” she adds.
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Sometimes you have no choice but to sit—like when you’re tackling your inbox at the end of the day. Still, there’s a right and wrong way to take to a chair. “You’ll train your abs all day long by simply being mindful of your posture,” says Archer. “Hold your abs in as if you were at notch three on a belt with 10 notches—no strain but enough energy to support your lower back and keep you uplifted.” You can also sit on an exercise ball, which keeps your body from being static and helps build core strength, notes Kennedy.
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Whether the end of the day sends you to a bus stop or to the back of a grocery store check-out line, do a set of calf raises while you wait, suggests Archer. “I’m never embarrassed about doing this in public,” she says. “Just lift up off your heels and lower. If you want to work a single leg, wrap your other foot around your ankle and do single-leg calf raises. This also challenges your balance.”
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Instead of hitting the shower right after your last set, wind down with a 20-minute jog, suggests Kennedy. “If you're too tired or your body is pushing back, a 30-minute walk is a great substitute,” she says. “Walking is a fantastic way to slow your body down and cool off after a workout. If you incorporate cardio into your workout already, a walk can be an enjoyable way to add a few extra steps into your day, especially if a friend, pet, or loved one joins in.”
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If enjoying an evening out with friends or family is on the agenda, do something that gets everyone moving. Go dancing or bowling instead of to the movies, suggests Fuchs. Or forgo calorie-laden drinks at happy hour and hit up a fitness class with a friend after work. Check out Fitness Classes More Fun Than a Night Out for ideas.
Don’t get lazy when you surrender to the sofa in the evening. Hide your remotes and get up to change channels on your television or to find a new song on your iPod, advises Fuchs. Also, do situps and hip raises during commercial breaks, suggests Kennedy. “Get the whole family involved and see who can complete the most,” she says. “Making it a game will make it more fun and bring out some friendly competition.”
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If you forget to stretch (or if you don’t stretch enough) after a workout earlier in the day, make a habit of doing it before you hit the sack. “It'll become like second nature and add some light exercise while calming your mind before bedtime,” says Kennedy. “Incorporating some yoga moves, like upward and downward dog, belly breathing, cat pose, cobra, and bridge, can help build core strength,” she adds.
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