Whether you belong to a gym or exercise at home or outdoors, most people will agree that getting to your exercise ‘destination’ is the hardest part of maintaining a fitness routine. By the end of the day, we are all exhausted, and turning right to go home instead of left to the gym can be a split second decision. Same too for the early risers; when the alarm goes off at 5AM to fit in some pre-work sit ups, how many times have you hit the snooze button? If we could only override those moments when our brain says yes, but our actions say no. Let’s face it, when we consciously try to incorporate good behaviors into our lives, sometimes we get in our own way.
What if we said you could incorporate smaller bursts of exercise into your daily routine without having to think (too hard!) or break a sweat? If you are feeling the slightest bit guilty about skipping a workout, or just don’t have the extra time, we have some ideas that will cut you some slack, and get you additional bonus steps without all the pressure. Here are four easy ways to incorporate steps — not to mention burn more calories — on those days you just can’t help but hit the snooze button. And don’t forget to wear your tracker so you can get the credit you deserve!
1. Take the High Road
Most of us take the path of least resistance. If it is a choice between taking the elevator and taking the stairs, the elevator always wins. And that’s without thinking. Before you push the up button, think about this first. According to Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise walking up stairs at a moderate intensity should burn five calories a minute for a 120-pound person, seven for a 150-pound person, and nine for a 180-pound person; running stairs will multiply the caloric burn and the cardiovascular benefit. If you have two to three flights of stairs to climb, you could burn at least 10 calories. By the end of the work week, you will have burned at least an extra 50 calories! And if calories don’t turn you on, perhaps step count will. The average flight of stairs is 12 steps. If you walk a flight at least three times during the day, you will have added 36 steps to your daily count! Sure, taking the stairs will take a little more energy but it won’t take much more time. In fact you might find it saves you time because you won’t have to wait around for those busy elevators.
2. Eating on the Go
Are you about to order in? Or maybe you and your pals are going out to lunch. Chances are the restaurant or fast food joint is close to where you work or live. Why not place the order and pick it up yourself? If time permits, how about walking to and from the restaurant? Your pals will thank you. And what if you brought food from home? If you enjoy eating your lunch in the cafeteria, or worse you are guilty of eating at your desk, how about taking 10 minutes from your lunch to walk around the block. That’s approximately another 200 steps. The benefits of this minor adjustment are good for your body and your mind. We all need a break, and this one not only keeps the blood flowing but it will help to clear your head, and lower your stress level.
3. Walk This Way
If you use public transportation to get around, consider getting off one stop before your destination and walk the rest of the way. You’ll be surprised how little time this adds to your commute, and sometimes you’ll even get home earlier than usual if you live in a high traffic area. Plus, it’s always nice to have a break from the loud and crowded environment of public transportation, not to mention there’s a lot more leg room outside. And if you mostly drive, park your car farther away from the office or shopping center to easily pick up some extra steps. If drive thru banking or fast food is your thing, how about parking and hoofing your way into the establishment to do your business? You won’t feel as guilty when you buy that Big Mac.
4. Homebound Hoofers
Increasing your step count outside of the home is one thing, but when we are finally home it’s hard to muster up the wherewithal to do anything but melt on the couch. While you may find these next few suggestions a bit over the top, we think they are creative and will produce great results over time. If you are lucky enough to have two bathrooms, why not use the one on another floor? When you talk on the phone don’t stay seated, walk around the room. Change the channels on your TV without the remote. And when you watch TV, march in place during the commercials. Imagine how many more steps you could add to your count in two minutes worth of advertisements. And finally, after dinner why not explore the neighborhood with a stroll around the block. To stroll is to walk in a leisurely way. Can you think of a better way to collect more steps, decompress and settle your stomach? You might even make a friend along the way.
There you have it — a step-by-step plan to get more steps into your day. Of course, none of these little tweaks are going to beat the results of a trip to the gym, a vigorous jog outside or playing an energizing sport with friends, but they will keep you moving without a lot of effort and ultimately increase your chances of becoming a healthier you. The less pressure we place on our intentions, the easier it is to make change. Adding small bursts of activity to your day will make it that much easier to find the get-up-and-go to make it to the gym more regularly. Before you know it those extra steps you’ve been racking up every day will end up leading you somewhere — maybe even to the gym.