How to start moving more every single day
I would be missing out if I went through this entire month without mentioning that it’s American Heart Month in February. Heart health is important, my friends. There are plenty of ways to put yourself in a position to have a healthy heart, and the one that rings the truest to me, of course, is doing regular cardiovascular or aerobic exercise.
Inactivity is a problem. Did you know that about 80 percent of adults in the United States are not getting the recommended amount of exercise, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? The recommended amount of exercise is two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity cardiovascular or aerobic exercise, along with one-to-two strength-training sessions a week. That works out to five sessions of 30 minutes of cardio, with a little muscle work added on. (However, according to your individual health and fitness goals, strength training could take on a larger role of your weekly activity.)
And while it sounds like a lot, it’s doable. You can add activity to your day in so many ways. You don’t need to spend hours and hours at the gym each day to be active and fit, (although I’m certainly a proponent of taking regular group fitness classes). All you need to do is strive to incorporate more movements into your current lifestyle every single day. In fact, you can break up your spurts of activity throughout the day and still get the same benefits of one longer exercise session.
If you struggle to get the recommended activity, here are a few things you can consider …
How to start moving more every single day
- Park your car far from the entrance. If you’re always driving wherever you go, consider parking as far as you can from the store or office, so you can get in some extra steps. My Mom taught me this one years ago, and it’s something I try to do now that I’m back behind the wheel.
- Go on family walks after dinner. Family time and exercise? Seems like the perfect combination. Make it a routine and stick to it.
- Take the stairs. If you’re always waiting for the elevator, why don’t you use that time to get your heart-rate up with a few flights of stairs? Back when I used to work in an office, sometimes I would go for a quick jaunt up and down the stairs when the mid-afternoon slump would hit.
- Set fitness dates. Planning to meet up with a friend for coffee? How about you take that coffee in to-go cups and stroll around downtown or a nearby park. If it’s too cold outside, just loop the inside of a mall.
- Ride your bike. Grab a helmet, a backpack and try cycling to your next location rather than driving. Better yet, make bike dates with your friends that also have a set of wheels. Now that my husband, Dave, and I have moved into a bigger place with a garage, we’re definitely thinking of investing in some bikes.
- Get physical and take the hard route. When was the last time you used a push lawn-mower or carried two hand-baskets at the grocery store rather than put everything in a cart? All of this is exercise, and it’s good for you, even though it’s clearly not the easiest option. Extra credit: Do some bicep curls with your hand-baskets as you stare into the freezer section deciding what to pick up for dinner.
- Play games. I’m sure your friends, pets and children will love this one. Get outside and throw a ball around, play tag or get moving in a fun way. Too cold to get outside? How about some jump-rope in the basement?
- Make an appointment for it. Do you ever skip important appointments in your calendar? What if you scheduled in your 30 minutes of activity several times a week and stuck to it. If being active is important to you, you can find time for it. And letting others know that you’re committed by writing it in your calendar is a great way to be consistent.
- Find a workout buddy. If you’re new to exercising and want to create a routine, ask a friend to join you in your quest. You can meet for lunch-time walks during the day, or even get up 30 minutes earlier to go on a morning jog before you start your day. There’s strength in numbers.
- Set your alarm for mini bursts. What if you did five minutes of jumping jacks and mountain climbers before you took a shower, before you brushed your teeth and before you fixed dinner? Adding little spurts of activity will get your heart-rate up, blood flowing and give you a jolt of energy. And you can just as easily set an alarm on your cell phone to go off every couple of hours to remind you to get up and do these moves. (For more at-home workout ideas, head on over to my Fitness and Workouts page for a few short and effective routines.)
Pretty easy, right? I encourage you to take one step toward more activity today, and if you’re already there, how about motivating someone in your life who needs a little help?
And now, to give you another reason to move more, here’s a staggering fact for you.
The truth about heart health
True or false? Women don’t need to worry about heart disease as much as men do.
False. Women are at risk for heart disease, just like men. In fact, heart disease is the number-one killer of both men and women in the United States.
Scary stuff, folks. Scary stuff. If the fear alone cannot motivate, you, then maybe prizes and pre-paid gift cards will? Check this out …
Join the “We Dare You” campaign to win pre-paid gift cards
Changing your life can be as easy as taking a small step every single day in the right direction. When the folks at UnitedHealthcare reached out to me about sharing their campaign to help people lead healthier lives by documenting their baby steps to change, I knew I was interested. And they are sweetening the deal for you, because every time you do something active throughout the rest of February, you can visit the We Dare You website, log that activity and enter to win a pre-paid gift card. This contest is open to everyone in the U.S. (even if you don’t have UnitedHealthcare), and you can enter once a day, every day for extra chances to win.
To enter, all you have to do is go to the We Dare You website and do any of the following:
- Share a photo of yourself doing a heart-healthy exercise
- Test your smarts and answer a quiz question about heart health
- Get active and log your fitness activity for the day
There are weekly prizes of $25 pre-paid gift cards and monthly prizes of $400 pre-paid gift cards, so you have plenty of chances to win. And up next in March, the challenges focus on nutrition, another super important aspect of healthy living.
I’ve entered myself the past two days by answering quiz questions, both of which I’ve gotten right (and one is shown above, so that’s a freebie if you get it too). While I was on the site, I stayed to peruse around some beneficial heart-health articles as well, which is what inspired me to write this post. I usually write fitness-related posts from the stand-point of a very active person. However, because not everyone has the same routine as me, nor loves group fitness, I believe the baby steps I’ve addressed today can be key in heading toward a more active lifestyle no matter where you are today.
So there you have it. That’s all I’ve got for you today. After some work, I’m heading to a fun fitness event tonight, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow for my weekly “Friday Favorites.” Have a healthy and active Thursday. (And if you haven’t yet, be sure to check out the activewear giveaway I’m running until Saturday. It’s colorful and inspiring.) See ya!
**Disclosure: This post was sponsored by UnitedHealthcare, however all the views and opinions are completely my own.
Questions of the day
Is there someone in your life that you could help motivate to move more? What’s one thing active you’re planning to do today? What is one thing you’d like to dare yourself to accomplish?
Great tips Ashley! I couldn’t agree more with you that people don’t move enough. Technology has made it so much worst too.
Hi Megan, Thank you for sharing my tips! And yes, now you can order anything you want from your phone on demand, which gives people less of a reason to move! Hope you have a lovely Thursday! 🙂
I think one of the main problems is that inactive people sometimes think, “oh what’s one little walk going to do?” or “what’s one flight of stairs vs. the elevator going to do?” But really, that is what it is all about. Those little things that seem like nothing compound and add up over time to yield results. They might be so easy not to do, but they are also so easy TO do. It’s just switching your mindset and making it a habit. Thanks for the great information and happy Thursday to you!
You are SOOO right, Courtney. Little things matter and little baby steps lead to changes. I agree that even one extra flight of stairs a day can benefit people. Glad you liked this one! Happy Thursday to you too:)
I love #2 and #4! I love taking a walks after dinner with my husband and our dog. It feels good to get up and move after a meal and soak up the last hours of daylight. Workout dates are the best too. I recently started doing that with one of my work friends and it helps you enjoy the workout even more and holds you accountable to stick with it!
Hi Emily! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, after-dinner walks are the best, and I think my husband and I would take them if we didn’t eat dinner so darn late after getting home from our respective jobs. I LOVE that you have been making workout dates with a friend. Keep it up! And have a wonderful Thursday! 🙂
It definitely takes an intentional effort to move more during the workday (in addition to your workout) if you are in an office environment. I need to constantly remind myself to do that. Yesterday I took a few flights of stairs in a public area as I usually do, and I saw another woman on the stairs behind me. First time I have seen someone else in the staircase! She told me that she decided to take the stairs when she saw me doing it. That little thing made my day. 🙂
Hi Lauren! Oh my gosh, that’s so awesome you inspired a random stranger to take the stairs. I applaud you for that. See, you never know how you can inspire others with your healthy and active choices. One of my tricks when I worked in an office? Take my lunchbreak by talking on the phone and circling the outside of the building. I got funny looks, but I enjoyed it. Hope you have a lovely and active day!! 🙂
I just did a little break and walked up and down three flights in between meetings thanks to this post!
I am a huge fan of parking in the very last spot. My kids have gotten used to it. My husband has not! 😉
You go, Lauren!! Nice work on the extra activity today! 🙂
These are great tips! I usually pack in a lot of them like parking far away from a store or going for a walk after dinner… when the weather isn’t freezing. I can’t wait for the spring!
Hi Heather! Thank you. Yes, you have some serious weather conditions to conquer to be outside, but I’m sure you have plenty of indoor play with your pets too. Hope you have a happy Thursday! 🙂
Great Tips Ashley! When it isn’t belowzero in the winter we go on family walks or as we call them adventures so my boys will actually go! We find things along the way and get to play endless games of I spy!
Hi Renee! Yes, I’m sure it’s hard to get outside when so cold. But at least you have those “adventures” to look forward to when it warms up! That’s a great routine, so thanks for sharing. Happy Thursday! 🙂
Outside of normal workouts we like to take walks in the evenings, when it isn’t freezing… but since it’s negative a million degrees here right now I play hide and seek with the dog 🙂 He loves it! I put a treat in his treat dispensing toy, and run and hide. Once he gets the treat out he runs around the apartment to find me, he gets so excited!
On an exciting other note, Class Pass just launched in Kansas City! I think I’m going to do it, I’ve looked at the participating studios calendars, and there are enough before and after work options to make it worth it. Excited!
Hi Jessie! YES!! I love ClassPass, I had sooo much fun trying out a bunch of good studios with the service, so I definitely think you should do it. And after a while, you may find something that you want to go to more regularly, outside of the 3 visit maximum a month through CP. Please keep me posted on what you try out! And also, your dog sounds like fun! Good for you on keeping each other active indoors! Happy Thursday! 🙂
Walks after meals are huge for me. I neeeed to move to help move things along. 🙂
Sure do, Brittany! Sure do!
I love number one and do it all the time! Actually, I think I park far away just to avoid people hitting my car, but still I get my extra movement in! I also wear a Fitbit and it helps me to move because it is like a game or contest and I want to get a lot of steps!
Hi Chris! So true, I just got a new car, so parking far is another way to protect it. Glad your fitbit motivates you! I have an Up24, which also helps me to get moving. You can be your best competition! Hope you have a great Thursday! 🙂
I love talking a walk with my dogs after dinner. It’s the perfect way to prevent the sluggish, sit on the couch feeling that creeps in at night. I also try to move every hour so I don’t end up sitting for 8 hours straight. My Fitbit has been helpful, too!
Hi Pragati! I know! Sitting at a desk all day is soooo bad for you, so anything you can do to get up and get around is beneficial. Dogs are such a great motivator. What kind of dogs do you have? 🙂
These are great tips! I know my parents could benefit from moving more, can’t wait to share the tips with them!
Hi Hilary! I hope they listen to you when you tell them why!! 🙂 Happy Thursday, and thanks for sharing this with your parents.
I recently started walking to work instead of taking the bus, after realizing that both take me 20 minutes. I wish I could motivate my husband to move more, as he works a desk job then comes home to sit in front of the TV all night – that after dinner walk together might be just the thing we need to get started 🙂
Hi Nina! Nice job on walking to work. How funny that the time it takes to ride the bus is the same. That little burst of activity is definitely good for you. I hope you can convince the hubby to walk after dinner tonight! 🙂
I love this! Seriously, since starting my full time desk job in August I’ve realized how inactive I am 🙁 I still work out, but the rest of the day I just sit! Thanks for sharing, Ashley – I can definitely incorporate some of these — it’s just a matter of doing it.
Hi Emily! I know, it can be SO hard to get up from the desk when you’re busy. But it’s so important. I find myself doing it too. Any little bit helps, so I hope you got up to move a little more today! Happy Thursday! 🙂
Awesome tips Ashley!! Another great tip for people with desk jobs is to either get a standing desk, or find a tall counter to work at while standing for periods of the day. I do this, and stand on one leg, lift the other etc. so I am moving a little all the time. Also, I just spent 45 mins walking around the Chicago airport vs. sitting pre-flight – walk, fidget, move from foot to foot and stand (on one foot) whenever you can. That is my mantra!! 🙂
Hi Jill! So true! I also try to walk around the airport rather than sitting. And I’ve never tried a standing desk, but would require that if I’m ever back in the office full time. Hope you had safe travels!! 🙂
Ashley, you are the bommmb! This post is a great reminder to everyone that every little bit of movement counts!! It doesn’t have to be all or nothing!
Thank you so much, Jess! I think it does. And I hope you’ve had a very lovely Thursday so far! 🙂
I just got a Fitbit and it was really eye opening to see how many steps I take a day. Even with my daily cardio I barely hit the goal of 10,000 steps/day. These tips are helpful to add more movement and activity to my day.
Hi Mattie! I know! Even if you work out, you still need to pay attention to how long you are sitting still during the day. I’m glad you enjoyed these tips! Hope you have a great night! 🙂
Oh I love this! I need one of you sitting at my bedside each morning, and telling me to GET UP AND MOVE! Thank goodness for your blog, you keep me in check!
Hahhaha well thanks, Krissy! Glad to help! I hope you’ve been having a week. Now go get active!! 🙂
Look at that, I just jumped off the treadmill! haha!
You are awesome!! GO, girl! 🙂
Girl, you telling me 20 minutes of strength training was better than nothing today was a total motivator!!! Thank you for that!!
Hi Cassie! Ohhh it SO is. Weight-lifting is very important, but you don’t have to spend all day on it. And I have a bunch of short and effective dumbbell workouts on my Fitness & Workouts page you can reference for ideas with explanations. It was VERY nice to see your smiling face tonight, and I hope we can get to sweat together very soon. Have a wonderful night! 🙂
Awesome tips! I love doing all of these – I refuse to even take the elevator in my building. Any excuse to keep moving when you have a desk job!
Hi Laura, For sure! Glad you like to add those extra steps in each day, because I sure do. Hope all is going well with your move! 🙂
LOL at the ‘curls with the basket in the freezer section’. I’ve totally done that before and really hoped that no one else noticed!
I think finding friends to exercise with is key as well! I’m a big time fitness fanatic, but unless I am with the right kind of people, I’m not crazy about playing outside. I know that sounds bizarre, and uppity, but I think that bringing the right people along with you to play outside with is key. One thing that is amazing about the bay area (all of California, really) is the amount of people who play sports for fun. Restaurants with healthy choices are also amazing and prominent out here! great list to keep people informed of ways to keep at it!
Hi Jake, I don’t know how I missed replying to this comment a few weeks ago, but I definitely prefer to workout indoors too. And yes, we have some great healthy restaurants in the Bay Area. I hope you’re doing well! 🙂