For many people, finding ways to fit more movement into daily life is a huge challenge. Modern life is designed in a way that makes being sedentary the default. We sit in cars, at desks, or on the couch all day long! Unfortunately, our bodies were not designed for the lifestyle most of us lead, which causes joint pain and stress injuries for many people. Luckily, simple changes to lead a more ergonomic lifestyle where the body is moved appropriately can deliver big results.
Read on to discover 8 easy, (mostly) free ways to add more movement to your week and improve your daily life with less pain and stress!
1. Choose The Hard Way
Have you ever heard the cliche suggestions to park far away from the store so you have a long walk to the door, or to take the stairs to your apartment or office instead of the elevator? Well, they’re cliche for a reason. Making these choices are some of the easiest ways to start adding more movement into your daily life. You can go beyond the stairs and the parking lot with one or several of the suggestions:
- Choose a restaurant you can walk to from your home for lunch or dinner instead of driving
- Carry your packages from the mailroom or lobby instead of rolling them on a cart
- If you’re out for the day far from your home, park once and walk between stores and restaurants instead of driving
- Take public transit as it may involve more walking and standing than driving (yes, even the bus!)
2. Create Challenges & Checklists
Do you love a good competition? Feel a huge sense of accomplishment when you complete your to-do list for the day? Most of us have some version of this instinctive drive to compete or accomplish things, so identifying what makes you feel motivated and gives you a sense of pride is an important first step to establishing a more active lifestyle.
For example, if you find you love challenges, you can plan your month around a specific movement routine like doing 100 sit-ups per day or taking a ten-minute walk each morning. If you’re motivated by completing a check-list each day, be sure to add your movement routine to the to-do’s so you get that sense of energy when you check it off, motivating you to do it time and time again!
3. Commit To A Routine
One of the biggest mistakes many people make when trying to implement a new workout routine or include more movement in their day is “bundling” too many challenges into one. Let’s say you want to try getting up earlier, because you’re currently not a morning person. And, it’s a big effort for you to get out of the house in the morning because of your family. Many people look at these circumstances and say okay, I’ll make myself get up early and leave the house to go to the gym every morning, and then I’ll really feel good about myself!
The problem is, we are rarely successful in making this new habit, because we are trying to change too many behaviors at once. A better goal for someone in this situation would be to commit to a 15-minute workout on the living room floor every afternoon at the end of their work-from-home workday to create a healthier transition from working life to home life. Once you’re exercising daily, THEN you can consider adapting another habit like your wake up time.
4. Consider Your Space
As we mentioned, our daily lives are very conducive to lots of unhealthy sitting. Whether you work from home or an office, you likely sit in a desk chair most of your day. Consider how your space makes it harder or easier for you to incorporate the movement you desire, and adapt it accordingly. While ergonomic office chairs, treadmill desks, yoga ball chairs or other equipment is a great investment if you have the means, you can create positive change by laying a cheap yoga mat in the corner of your office for daily stretch breaks.
5. Find A Workout Buddy
It’s proven that we hold ourselves more accountable to other people than we do to ourselves. It’s called “external motivation.” Making a plan to meet a friend for a walk or an exercise class instead of a coffee or a meal can be a great way to easily include more intentional movement in your week.
6. Get A Dog
Speaking of external motivation, nothing says “walk me!” quite like those puppy dog eyes, does it? Getting a dog is a huge decision for families and not something to take on lightly just for the exercise benefits (after all, the dog will still need walking even if you want a break from the routine!) But, if you’re already considering it, this is definitely a great way to incorporate more movement in your day!
If you’re already a pet owner, consider taking on more of the duties yourself instead of outsourcing them to dog walkers or day care, saving you money AND creating a more active lifestyle, plus building an even better bond with your pup.
7. Break It Up
If you’re too busy to fit 30 minutes or an hour of exercise into your day all at once, break up your movement into 5, 10, or 15 minute segments. Stretch for 5 minutes right after you wake up, take a ten minute walk during your lunch break, and do a 15 minute yoga, cardio, or weights video in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon! This can feel a lot more approachable, and has the benefit of getting you up and moving multiple times in a day.
8. Make It Your Side Hustle
If you’ve been thinking “I wish I had time to add more movement to my day, but what I really need is more income…” well, here’s a way to do BOTH: get a side gig that involves physical activity. Handy? Work on lawns or build Ikea furniture through an online marketplace, get a food delivery gig and do as much of it as possible on foot or, if getting your own dog isn’t in the cards, walk dogs via an app.