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7 Simple Ways to Stay Active to Improve Your Mood & Increase Happiness

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Thirty minutes of activity per day.

This is all it takes to stay active, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Staying active comes with many benefits: it improves your mood, reduces stress & depression, increase happiness, and boosts your energy levels.

But I get it: staying active can feel impossible at times. Between the many responsibilities and urgent tasks, sneaking in physical activity can be a challenge. Luckily, with the right tactics, you can become more active and elevate your life. Let’s dive into it.

What Does Staying Active Mean?

In the simplest of terms, staying active is about moving your body regularly and avoiding long periods of stagnation. According tothe Mayo Clinic, we need at least 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity daily, and 45 minutes per day (300 minutes per week) if you want to reap even greater benefits.

Below is my chart showing what staying active means: basically anything between levels “3 to 6” (ideally between levels “4 to 6” if you are less than 50-60 years old).

Scale showing different levels of physical activity

Light activities like folding clothes or walking (with frequent stops) in a grocery store would not qualify as activities that can help you stay active.

Below are 2 quick examples of physically active habits. One is “moderatively active (30 minutes/day) and the other is “active” (45 minutes/day).

two examples of activity
Two examples of staying active

The Awesome Benefits Of Staying Active

Research shows (Source) that staying active and exercising regularly has the following benefits:

  1. Better sleep
  2. Increased sexual interest
  3. Less stress
  4. Improvement in mood
  5. Increased energy
  6. Reduced tiredness
  7. Weight loss
  8. Reduced cholesterol & improved cardiovascular fitness

So why is activity good for you? For one, the release of endorphins helps bring your mood up (Sources: 23). Maintaining an active lifestyle is also associated with greater resistance to stress, anxiety, and depression (Sources: 67). One of the most notable benefits of staying active is that you feel more energized and in a better mood. 

Many studies have shown this effect on participants. For example, in one paper from 2006, researchers wrote:

Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.

Ashish Sharma, M.D.

You can learn more in my article on 5 awesome benefits of an active lifestyle.

So how do you reap these benefits? Start with 30 minutes per day, or ideally 45 minutes per day. Let’s now review very helpful tips that can help you become more active.

7 Simple Ways to Stay Active & Keep Moving

Below are simple tips and ideas for activities that can help you maintain a physically active lifestyle, with minimal efforts:

1. Change Your Home to Make it Easier to Exercise

You might be surprised to learn that we often make choices in our daily lives simply based on their accessibility.  To make yourself more active, one of the best things you can do is make it easier to move more.

For example, if you want to exercise at home more often, clear up some space and lay out your fitness equipment. That way, each time you walk into the room, these things can serve as a trigger or reminder.

Change your home to make it easier for you to exercise

When it comes to adopting an active lifestyle, what trips most people up is not the physical activity but getting started. Making your fitness activities more visible in your home will help you create more opportunities to get started.

2. Pick Activities You Actually Enjoy

I used to think that fitness activities are a dull and necessary step to stay healthy. Yep, that’s it, you need to suffer and go to the gym regularly if you want to stay fit. The truth is, you need to find fitness or exercise habits that you truly enjoy if you want consistent and long-term results.

couple walking in forest
Pick activities you truly enjoy

To find a new activity that you like, simply start trying things out. You may not know what you will love or hate until you try it out. For example, you may think that a fitness routine with YouTube videos is the perfect way to stay active, only to find out it is too cumbersome and a bit boring. It’s ok! To find a new activity that you love, you need to be willing to try things out and see what you like. For example, you may discover you like to walk in a park while listening to a podcast or audio book. Or perhaps you will enjoy walking to your local bookstore on the week-ends.

Finding activities that help you stay active and that you truly enjoy is the key to achieving long-term results.

3. Do a Simple Exercise Routine

Starting a simple exercise routine is another great way to boost your activity level. It could be just 10 or 20 minutes. Set a timer for 10 minutes and do as much as you can in that time.

You can also watch one of the many YouTube fitness classes or follow fitness experts on Instagram. I’ve found great body weight workouts posted on Instagram by trainers. A few of my favorites are Dana Landgren, Alexia Clark and Kayla Istines (Learn more in my article on home workouts).

YouTube offers plenty of workout options

What’s even better is that you don’t need an overly-complicated or challenging program to achieve great results. You can simply bundle together some bodyweight movements, strive to improve and reap great benefits in the long run. For example:
Lunges > Wall Sits > Push-ups > High Knees > Donkey Kicks

4. Walk More, Ideally in Nature

Walking is one of the simplest and most sustainable ways to become more physically active. You can easily integrate it into your life, and you don’t necessarily have to spend extra time on it.

For example, instead of taking your car somewhere, walk. Instead of talking to friends & family on the phone from your couch, walk. Instead of taking the elevator, use the stairs. Click here to read my post “Discover the Amazing Benefits of Walking Habits (And How to Walk More)”

happy woman in a forest
Walking in nature can boost boost feelings of happiness

Another great tip to walk more is to simply get out for a walk in your local park: the American Heart Association writes that “Spending time in nature can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost feelings of happiness and wellbeing” (source).

Spending time in nature can have so many benefits that people starting to come up with new terms including “green time” or “forest therapy”. The Japenese people have come up with my favorite term: “forest bathing”!

5. Do a 10-minute Cleaning & Tidying Rampage

It’s a great way to clean up AND stay active.

Set the timer on your phone or your voice assistant (Alexa, Google Home, etc) for 10 minutes and quickly go through each room of your house tidying things up. Grab any trash sitting out on nightstands. Throw clothes that are on the floor into the laundry basket. In the process, you will walk quickly, bend, stretch, lift objects, and your heart rate will go up!

The Daily Cleaning Checklist

Learn more with my post: The Totally Overwhelmed Clean House Routine.

6. Start New Active Habits, At the Same Time as Your Existing Habits

It’s hard to start a new habit and stick to it. But it’s easier if you start your new habit at the same time you do existing habits. For example:
– As you get out of bed in the morning, stretch for five minutes and do thirty jumping jacks.
– Before eating lunch, get up from your desk and do twenty push-ups.
– While on the phone with friends and family, go outside and walk.
– Do five stretches before you check your phone for new messages (ah!).

As you get out of bed, do a few stretches

Do you have ten minutes of downtime or a break at some point in your day? Fantastic. Make use of that time by doing some simple exercises. It all counts. Every activity adds up to the whole, which leads to great results in the long run.

7. Track How Well You Are Doing!

I love tracking my performance and seeing improvements. It keeps me going, maintains my motivation, and pushes me to do even more. Seeing progress is fantastic because it creates a positive feedback loop:

Work leads to results, which motivate us and push us to do even more work that delivers even more outstanding results.

Seeing your progress will motivate you to do more

You can use different tools to track your progress. What matters most is that you monitor your habits and stay consistent. In doing so, the data has more value and accuracy. 

A great way to go about it is to make progress tracking automatic. For example, if you want to become more active and walk more each day, a great way to get started is to install a step-tracking app on your phone. Once installed, it tracks your activity and gives you actionable data every hour of the day. It’s easy because you don’t have to do anything. All you need to do is check it regularly, set actionable goals for each week, and go about your day.

Learn More About Staying Active:

How to Keep an Active Lifestyle

The 3 Best Ways to Start A New Healthy Habit & Make It Stick

how to start a healthy habit

8 Tips for Living a More Active Lifestyle

8 Tips for Living a More Active Lifestyle

6 Tips to Build Healthy Habits for Life

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7 Simple Ways to Stay Active to Improve Your Mood & Increase Happiness

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