Living in New York City has taught me a lot of things over the past four years. One of the biggest advantages that I see in residing here is how easy it is to get your steps in. The city is extremely walkable and most people use public transit, so it’s not uncommon to walk miles and miles and climb countless stairs while navigating the streets and subways every day.
Now that we are past the six month mark of staying indoors for the majority of the day due to the pandemic, however, it’s important to make sure that we are still getting a good amount of activity in. That’s exactly what this post is all about, and I hope that it inspires you to add in a little more movement into your routine if you think you might need it!
There is a lot loaded onto our plates right now. I totally get that, and I feel for those who have been balancing working full-time, homeschooling, and housekeeping while dealing with the craziness of the world that is happening. It takes a lot of effort and strategic planning for me to check off to-dos while watching my toddler every day, so I can only imagine the added pressures that so many are feeling right now. You are seriously rockstars!
The point of this conversation is not to add more to your plate, but to showcase how adding more exercise into your routine can be easier than you might think.
Structured workouts and templates are key for specific goals, just like eating habits, but this post is taking it back to basics with how you can simply add more activity in your routine.
So, are you getting up and moving enough during your days?
If not, let’s chat about what you can do!
Schedule walks into your routine, like after a meal.
Going for a walk after an eating break is one of my favorite things to do. It’s actually one of the benefits in living where we do, as most of the restaurants we visit (even pre-pandemic) are within walking distance or a short subway ride away. Walking a few blocks or even a brisk twenty minutes or so around the neighborhood not only breaks up the day, but it also gives your mind a little refresh, too. Taking steps shortly after a meal can also come with extra health benefits like speeding up digestion, lowering your chance of heartburn, minimizing reflux symptoms, and more.
Take the stairs.
This is one that is always talked about, but it shouldn’t be skipped over and can really add up throughout the day. Elevators are rare around me (we live in a forth-story walk-up apartment), so I’ve just gotten used to taking the stairs most of the time. If you’re surrounded by elevators, challenge yourself to take the stairs during a few outings of your day. If you make it a habit, like walking up and down to your office on the eighth floor, even better.
Get up and stretch your limbs often.
How often do you get up during the workday? If you’re working on deadlines or knee-deep in projects, it’s easy to get wrapped up in what you’re focused on and stay seated for hours at a time.
Instead of just powering through, schedule 5-minute rest breaks. Get up, grab some water, use the restroom or whatever you need, then get back to work. I do best when I work in a pattern of a straight 20-30 minutes, quick break, 20-30 minutes, quick break until I’m finished. I do less daydreaming and more work when I’m seated, and my watch will encourage me to stand if I haven’t done so enough within the hour. It’s a great feature of wearing an activity tracker, and you can read more on this below.
Need a push to get up on the regular? Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. I know I feel like I’m constantly getting up to use the restroom when I do this … but that may not be such a bad thing. Little breaks can be great for the body and mind.
Stay hydrated, and see my six easy tips on this for more information here.
Try using a standing desk or a stability ball as your desk chair.
I’ve personally never used a standing desk, but I’ve heard amazing things about them. That said, I don’t even have a sitting desk at our apartment right now. Although it isn’t ideal, I currently set my laptop up on our high top dining table, and sometimes I stand instead of sit. Back when I used to actually have a desk, I would sometimes switch out my desk chair for a stability ball and loved the extra movement (and core work!) it allows.
Park further away from entrances.
As tempting as it is to grab the closest parking spot available, you can easily fit more steps into your day by parking your car rows past where you need. It’s been years since I drove regularly, but this is a good one to practice if you feel safe in your surroundings to do so.
Find the workouts that you look forward to.
This one is my favorite! Too often, people try one specific type of workout and make that the judge of all workouts. If you don’t like a certain style or group class format, are you really going to be motivated to do them? Not really. The key is finding something that excites you to keep coming back.
My favorite types of strength workouts outside of the gym include HIIT or Tabata circuits as well as more low-impact formats like barre, Pilates, yoga, and more. I really like running outside or even on a treadmill, but I don’t get the same enjoyment out of spinning or indoor cycling. This is the main reason why I haven’t felt called to own a Peloton bike. You’ll be more motivated to get moving and stick to something that you truly like!
If possible, stand during phone calls.
Does anyone else live with a pacer? I always get a kick out of Scott’s habit of burning circles into our floors during phone calls. He’ll sit still for a Facetime chat with family, but business calls always include a lot of walking around. There’s nothing wrong with doing this if you don’t lose your breath or train of thought! In fact, it can be a great habit to pick up if you haven’t tried it before.
Also, if I know that a phone call I need to make is going to last a while (like a casual catch-up call with a friend), I’ll plan it out during a walk outside. You really can’t go wrong here.
Foam roll, and use something like a tennis or lacrosse ball to ease tension and get your blood flowing.
If you’re new to foam rolling or stretching, check out this post that breaks it all down! I admittedly don’t foam roll enough right now, but it used to be a part of my every day (often multiple times a day) routine when I was working as a personal trainer. Since my days have slowed down a bit during quarantine, I’ve tried to actively incorporate more foam rolling. I’ve also been all about giving myself lacrosse ball massages. I ordered these several years ago, but you can use any tennis or lacrosse ball to trigger myofascial release.
It’s not uncommon to find me stretching, foam rolling, or massaging with a ball when I’m just relaxing or watching a show. You’re already sitting, so why not?
If you like to watch television at night, try doing a light workout or stretch while tuning in.
To piggy back off of the point above, some people get a lot more motivated with workout multitasking. This could include reading or watching a show while you’re walking, jogging, or running on the treadmill. If you don’t prefer follow-along workouts, this could be good for you. Personally, I like to jam out to music during my workouts or stream a video to follow along, but I will occasionally throw in an abs circuit or several stretches into my television time.
Wear an activity tracker and see what your days actually look like. While you’re at it, set a steps or activity goal.
Have you ever used an activity tracker? I’ve tried several, and my favorite thus far has been my Apple Watch hands down.
Wearing anything that counts your steps is a great way to hold yourself accountable and stay on top of your goals. I notice the biggest difference on my rest days. While some could have easily turned into an all-day Netflix situation, having a constant reminder to get up and do something on a lazy day is like night and day. It may sound silly, but I genuinely want to take more walks and get in my steps for the day when I have an activity tracker on.
Plus, they provide real-time stats to check throughout your day. You can view how many calories you have burned, how many steps you have taken, and how close you are to reaching your customizable goals for the day. And I love the extra feature that Apple includes to share your workouts and compete with friends! It’s fun and really does nudge me to get up more often.
When in doubt, dance party it out. This has become a motto in our household during this period of quarantine for many different things, and can be the perfect answer when you need to just have fun and jump around. Skyler absolutely loves it when we put on a few dance songs, and we all have a blast and sneak in some cardio training at the same time.
I firmly believe in structured workout programs, but getting those extra steps in where you can is also very beneficial. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed in this strange season, I hope that you are leaving with something new to try if you feel like you might need more movement in your life.
I know it takes a conscious effort for me at times, too!
Thank you for checking in today, and I’ll catch you back here later this week for a new round of Friday Favorites!
Hi Heather –
You mention some great ideas. It’s definitely important to get some movement in during the day, and it helps on many levels when working from home. I agree that standing desks or stability balls (or other “active sitting options”) are an easy way to get the blood flowing, work on your posture, and keep the energy up. It’s been a game changer for me!
Thanks for the post,
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