Nine Ways to Increase Your Physical Activity throughout the Day
We often times immediately think of taking up sports or other forms of structured exercise when considering getting in shape. While these can produce great results, it is every-day, non-structured activities (ie leisurely or free time activities), that have a tremendous impact on our physical health. Cumulative energy expended from daily activities such as walking or running errands can achieve health benefits while also being conducive to our busy lifestyles1. Here are nine ways you can incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.
- Walk to work or school. Moderate intensity walking has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome2,3. Start from a leisurely pace and work your way up to a brisk pace. If you take transit, get off the bus 1-2 stops early and walk the rest of the way.
- Buy a pedometer. Pedometers are a great tool to motivate yourself and have been shown to boost physical activity in sedentary individuals4,5. Challenge yourself to meet the recommended 10,000 steps a day. If you don’t think you can meet that goal, engage in an activity that will enable you to do so like going on a walk during your lunch break.
- Cycle through a set of lunges, hip bridges, planks, and burpees during TV commercial breaks (or any other combination you prefer). Keep your heart rate up with light aerobic activity like marching on the spot when your show comes back on. Be sure to swing your arms to create large movements. Divide the program time. Commercials = strength, show = cardio, or vice versa. The more you engage your body, the more intense the workout.
- Do heel raises while brushing your teeth. Strong calf muscles offset the risk of an insufficient venous return pump due to prolonged sitting or immobilization of the lower limbs6, 7.
- Drink water. There are a myriad of benefits such as toxic waste removal and hydration for the brain8, but it will also give you an excuse to get up and use the bathroom multiple times a day.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Research shows that short bouts of stair-climbing improves cardiovascular fitness, including VO2 max, HDL and LDL levels, and blood lactate9,10.
- Buy a skipping rope and leave it in a room you use often (eg. kitchen). Do a 2 min routine every time you enter the room before carrying on with your errands.
- Take a 10 min stretch break for every 50 min of working or studying. Flexibility is crucial for functionality, range of movement, and preventing injury. Stretching reduces muscle stiffness and induces neurological adaptations thereby leading to increased stretch tolerance11. Stretch to the point of slight discomfort, as stretching to the point of pain does not produce greater results12. Use this time as a way to refresh your mind before going back for your next round of studying.
- Manage your stress with exercise, not food. Chronic stressors from work, school, and your environment can weight heavy on your mental health. Refrain from indulging in high-sugar sweets and find a coping mechanism centered on physical activity. Physical activity has been shown to improve mood, increase work productivity, and improve quality of sleep13,14,15.
Maintaining a good health status should be the primary reason to keeping physically active. Be consistent, stay motivated, but most importantly, have fun!
- Barr-Anderson, D. J., AuYoung, M., Whitt-Glover, M. C., Glenn, B. A., & Yancey, A. K. (2011). Integration of short bouts of physical activity into organizational routine a systematic review of the literature.American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 40(1), 76.
- Sakuragi, S., & Sugiyama, Y. (2006). Effects of daily walking on subjective symptoms, mood and autonomic nervous function.Journal of PHYSIOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY, 25(4), 281-289. doi:10.2114/jpa2.25.281
- Sattelmair, J., Pertman, J., Ding, E. L., Kohl, 3., Harold W, Haskell, W., & Lee, I. (2011). Dose response between physical activity and risk of coronary heart disease: A meta-analysis.Circulation, 124(7), 789-795. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.110.010710
- Morgan, A. L., Tobar, D. A., & Snyder, L. (2010). Walking toward a new me: The impact of prescribed walking 10,000 steps/day on physical and psychological well-being.Journal of Physical Activity & Health, 7(3), 299.
- Musto, A., Jacobs, K., Nash, M., DelRossi, G., & Perry, A. (2010). The effects of an incremental approach to 10,000 steps/day on metabolic syndrome components in sedentary overweight women.Journal of Physical Activity & Health, 7(6), 737.
- Abramowitz, H. B., & Gertz, S. D. (2007). Venous stasis, deep venous thrombosis and airline flight: Can the seat be fixed?Annals of Vascular Surgery, 21(3), 267-271. doi:10.1016/j.avsg.2007.03.007
- Padberg, F. T., Johnston, M. V., & Sisto, S. A. (2004). Structured exercise improves calf muscle pump function in chronic venous insufficiency: A randomized trial.Journal of Vascular Surgery, 39(1), 79-87. doi:10.1016/j.jvs.2003.09.036
- Popkin, B. M., D’Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health.Nutrition Reviews, 68(8), 439-458. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x
- Boreham, C. A. G., Wallace, W. F. M., & Nevill, A. (2000). Training effects of accumulated daily stair-climbing exercise in previously sedentary young women.Preventive Medicine, 30(4), 277-281. doi:10.1006/pmed.2000.0634
- Kamani, C. H., Gencer, B., Montecucco, F., Courvoisier, D., Vuilleumier, N., Meyer, P., & Mach, F. (2015). Stairs instead of elevators at the workplace decreases PCSK9 levels in a healthy population.European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 45(10), 1017-1024. doi:10.1111/eci.12480
- Apostolopoulos, N., Metsios, G. S., Flouris, A. D., Koutedakis, Y., & Wyon, M. A. (2015). The relevance of stretch intensity and position-a systematic review.Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1128. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01128
- Muanjai, P., Jones, D. A., Mickevicius, M., Satkunskiene, D., Snieckus, A., Skurvydas, A., & Kamandulis, S. (2017). The acute benefits and risks of passive stretching to the point of pain.European Journal of Applied Physiology, 117(6), 1217. doi:10.1007/s00421-017-3608-y
- Sjøgaard, G., Christensen, J. R., Justesen, J. B., Murray, M., Dalager, T., Fredslund, G. H., & Søgaard, K. (2016). Exercise is more than medicine: The working age population’s well-being and productivity.Journal of Sport and Health Science, 5(2), 159-165. doi:10.1016/j.jshs.2016.04.00
- 1 Osei-Tutu, K. B., & Campagna, P. D. (2005). The effects of short- vs. long-bout exercise on mood, VO2max, and percent body fat.Preventive Medicine, 40(1), 928. Popkin, B. M., D’Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health.Nutrition Reviews, 68(8), 439-458. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x
15. Reid, K. J., Baron, K. G., Lu, B., Naylor, E., Wolfe, L., & Zee, P. C. (2010). Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia. Sleep Medicine, 11(9), 934-940. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2010.04.014