Getting fit doesn’t have to be a difficult affair. All you have to do is start wherever you are and commence making small changes, one step at a time. We tend to think of fitness as an activity that we have to do separately from the regularly scheduled events of our lives. This needn’t be the case. There are plenty of easy ways to build fitness and health into our daily routines. Here are a few easily adoptable habits that will have you on your way to a healthier you in no time.
Take more steps each day
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that we get a minimum of 2.5 hours of moderate activity each week, intermixed with muscle-strength training. If you can’t make it to the gym on a regular basis, taking more steps in your day is a simple way to increase your fitness level. It is recommended that we take at least 10,000 steps per day to stay healthy. The average U.S. adult takes somewhere around 5,900 steps each day while a sedentary person might take as few as 1,000-3,000 steps.
On average, it takes about 2,000 steps to walk a mile. So, does this mean we all need to find time for a five mile walk in our daily lives? No, of course not. It’s actually easier to get 10,000 steps in than you might think. Start with simple things—a walk around your block before work in the morning, parking at the far end of parking lots, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, you get the idea. The easiest way to track your steps is to get a pedometer. There are several good models on the market; the most fun of which allow you to engage in a step-taking challenge with your friends and family. It doesn’t take long for 10,000 steps to feel like a comfortable norm!
Slip strength and flexibility training into your workflow
Too many of us spend far too long hunched over computers and crammed into cubicles. Slipping a few moments of strength and flexibility training in between conference calls and spreadsheets can make all the difference in the world in how our bodies feel at the end of the day. Brief moments of activity interspersed throughout the day improve fitness levels and heart health, as well as improving our moods and productivity. Check out this comprehensive list of “deskercizes” for some good ideas to get you started.
The same goes for when you get home at night. Instead of fast-forwarding through those commercials, use them for some concentrated bodyweight training.
The general rule of thumb is to slip fitness (and tension relief!) into your day on a regular basis. You have 30 seconds? Give me 25 jumping jacks - Go!
Feed your body the right food for your fitness goals
Don’t bother trying to diet, it’s a waste of time. Instead, work on changing your diet permanently, so that you are always eating real food, bursting with all the nutrients your body needs to thrive. Go for whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Pile on the protein. Eat several full meals instead of snacking all day. Be mindful while you eat. Take the time to fully chew your food and take in its flavors and textures. Pay attention to how your body feels after you’ve eaten something. For example, how much energy do you feel like you have after you eat a bag of potato chips vs when you eat a hearty spinach salad with avocado, apples and bacon? The difference is obvious. If your body is your car and your food is your gasoline, that salad would be premium fuel and the potato chips more akin to throwing dirt into the tank.
Get plenty of water and sunlight
We have more in common with plants than we might think. The importance of getting enough water and sunlight cannot be overstressed when trying to reach our fitness goals. As beings made mostly of water, getting enough of it is essential to our bodies’ proper functioning. Water helps digest and absorb food, regulate body temperature and blood circulation, carry nutrients and oxygen to the cells and remove toxic waste. Water helps the movement of our joints and protects tissues and organs within the body, not to mention how important water is for both muscle building and weight loss purposes. Without water, our bodies couldn’t metabolize stored fat or maintain proper muscle tone!
Getting enough sunlight is equally important, both for our bodies and our minds. When the skin is under sunlight, it synthesizes vitamin D, which makes calcium absorption possible in the intestines, helping the body to grow strong bones. Sunlight strengthens the immune system, the cardiovascular system and the functioning of the liver. Although excess sunlight causes some cancers, moderate sunlight actually helps to heal several other forms. Sunlight also stimulates the release of endorphins and serotonin, making it one of the most powerful natural remedies for depression known to mankind.
The key to healthier living is lifestyle changes that subtly bring more activity, motion and awareness to our day to day lives. These suggestions are starting points only. Get creative about fitness. Recognize that it can be done anywhere, anytime, and that it encompasses more than just getting your heart rate up. These easily adoptable habits are the beginning of a lifestyle that has health and well-being at its heart.
What small change will you commit to making this week? Share it below—stating it publicly can help you stick to it!