Staying active can make life better in so many ways. You have more self-confidence, feel better, get sick less often, and much more. But no matter how motivated you are, it’s not always easy to fit in time for fitness.
If you want to be more active, there are several simple ways to add movement to your day without spending hours at the gym.
How active should you be daily?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should get about 150 minutes of physical activity per week. That could be as simple as doing 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.1
Although that standard sounds completely manageable, once you add in work, kids, household responsibilities, and social commitments, squeezing 150 minutes of physical activity into one week isn’t always easy.
Regardless, staying active and meeting the minimum physical activity requirements for your age is important. Aside from just staying fit, moving your body and getting regular exercise has several other benefits, including:2
- Better brain health: Regular exercise can decrease anxiety and reduce your risk of depression. It can also improve your thinking, learning, and judgment skills.
- Weight management: Pairing regular physical activity with healthy eating will create a lifestyle that may help you lose weight and keep it off.
- Lower risk for cardiovascular disease: Regular moderate physical activity can lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol levels, and lower your heart disease and stroke risk.
- Reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes: Even if you start small, you’ll see immediate improvements in your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar with small amounts of regular exercise.
- Less risk of developing certain cancers: You’re less likely to develop kidney, lung, colon, breast, and bladder cancers, among others.
- Stronger bones and muscles: Maintaining your overall strength will help you continue doing daily activities like lifting and bending without developing injuries.
Why is being active important mentally?
Regular physical activity also has mental health benefits. It strengthens your mind and whole person by releasing feel-good chemicals that enhance your well-being. Additionally, it provides more opportunities to socialize and make new friends, boosts self-confidence, and helps you cope with difficult circumstances or life struggles more healthily.3
13 sneaky ways to be more active during the day
Work while you walk on a treadmill.
Desk jobs are very sedentary, and if you work full-time, you spend 8 or more hours a day sitting! To avoid all that sedentary time and be more active, try working while you walk on a treadmill. Although you might assume a standing desk would be equal or better, research indicates you only burn about 24 extra calories a day while standing versus sitting. Instead, walking for 30 minutes a day while you work could help you burn an additional 100 calories a day.4 Or, if you don’t prefer to walk while you type, use your lunch break to walk and eat while you work afterward.
Wear your baby.
Have a baby? Babywearing is another great way to burn more calories and be more active doing things you usually would throughout the day. For instance, bending down to pick up toys off the floor or going for a walk all instantly become weight-bearing activities when you’re babywearing. Plus, you can still have your hands free to get things done around the house or work from home.
Walk while you take work calls.
If you’re going to be stuck on the phone anyway, why not use that time to add some movement to your day? Whether you pace in circles around a room, walk circles around your backyard, or stroll around the neighborhood, talking on the phone can instantly become a mode of exercise and an excuse to get some vitamin D outdoors.
Socialize with a walk instead of meeting at the coffee shop.
Meeting up with a friend at a coffee shop is a great way to catch up, but if you want to be more active, consider heading to a local park and going for a walk while you chat instead.
Play with your kids or pets.
This is an easy and fun way to be more active each day. Recent studies show people who have dogs are more physically active than those without dogs and are more likely to meet exercise guidelines.5 However, even if you don’t have a dog, playing with your kids can be just as beneficial, if not more. Games like freeze tag, playing on the playground together, or riding bikes are excellent ways to move your body and get some exercise without even thinking about it. Plus, all the quality time you’ll have is unbeatable.
If you like to play video games, using a system like the Wii can boost your activity level and be more healthy than sitting still for hours at a time. Alternatively, you can use Vingo to turn your daily exercise routine into a virtual gaming adventure. With Vingo, you can run or ride your bike indoors. Start by creating a personalized avatar with a selfie and customize it with your choice of clothing, shoes, and gear. As you complete routes, you’ll unlock new ones, so the adventure never ends, and you get exercise all along the way. You can also run or bike with friends if you’re missing the social aspect of gaming.
Take the stairs.
Of course, taking the elevator at a hotel, office building, or another venue is always easier. But regularly taking the stairs has multiple health benefits, including burning more calories, improving cardiovascular health, reducing cholesterol levels, and increasing muscular strength. Plus, if you’re passionate about energy conservation, taking the stairs is also better for the environment because it conserves electricity!
Plan active date nights.
The typical date night is dinner and a movie, but those activities are very passive. If you want to be more physically active, planning active date nights is a fun way to do so with your significant other. Fun date night activities could include ice skating, hiking, mini golfing, bowling, or bike riding. Of course, you could always finish off the date with a meal out, too.
Do some yard work.
Yard work may just seem like another household chore, but it’s actually a great way to stay active too. Things like shoveling snow, landscaping, or moving heavy loads of dirt and rocks can burn anywhere from 400 to 600 calories an hour. Raking and bagging leaves burns about 350 to 450 calories per hour, and mowing the lawn burns 250 to 350 calories an hour. Gardening can also be quite physically demanding. Pulling weeds and planting flowers can burn 200 to 400 calories an hour!6 Besides all the extra calorie burning you’ll be doing, general yard work involves lots of bending, reaching, raising, and pulling, all of which add plenty of movement to your daily routine.
Do simple bodyweight exercises while cooking.
Let’s be honest; most of cooking is just standing around chopping, flipping, or waiting for things to boil. Adding a few simple bodyweight exercises is an easy way to be more active while you cook. For instance, do a few squats, complete some raised push-ups using the side of your countertop, or do lunges while you wait for that water to boil.
Listen to your favorite podcast while you walk, run, or bike.
Cardio activities like running or biking are excellent forms of exercise, but they can become monotonous and repetitive over time. Shake things up by listening to your favorite podcast. If you’re unsure what to listen to, check out our comprehensive list of the best podcasts to listen to while running.
Join a sports league for adults.
Playing sports with friends just feels like hanging out, not working out. But your body doesn’t know the difference. An hour-long basketball or soccer game with your pals still offers many of the same fantastic physical benefits as working out at the gym for the same amount of time. So, one of the best ways to be more active while you socialize with friends is by joining an adult sports league and playing regularly.
Key Takeaways:There are plenty of easy and fun ways to be more active throughout your day. Whether you plan special activities on date nights, play sports with your friends regularly, or take the stairs whenever you can, the extra movement and exercise will do wonders for your physical and mental health.