One of the biggest challenges that I used to face to maintain a healthy lifestyle was just… plain and simple… staying physically active.
After all, it looks like I was not the only one: 72% of adults are “overweight” or “obese” according to this CDC report!
Finding the right fitness or exercise tactics to maintain a physically active lifestyle was difficult and often frustrating to me. I would adopt a new fitness routine only to give it up a few weeks later.
Staying Physically Active At Least 30 Minutes Per Day
But staying active is critical: the Mayo Clinic recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day (Source on Mayo Clinic). Or more if you want to lose weight or maintain weight loss.
So how can you achieve at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day when you work from home or drive to work?
The good news is, we don’t have to rely on one or two tactics to stay physically active and establish a healthy exercise routine. Instead, we can develop many small habits that add up and make a massive difference in the long run.
Like individual drops in a bucket, each drop seems insignificant. But together, they add up and fill it up.
Below, I’ve shared five invaluable exercise habits that I took up to stay physically active. I hope they can inspire you to find your own little habits to stick to.
Let’s dive in.
5 Exercise Habits to Stay Physically Active At Least 30 Min a Day
- Break Long Periods of Sitting
I think we all intuitively know that long periods of sitting can be bad for you. They can contribute to obesity, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome (See this research). What I had not realized (but it makes sense) is that long periods of physical inactivity can also contribute to health issues even when people exercise (See this study).
In other words, it’s not because you go to the gym every day that you get to sit at your computer the whole day. Hmmm.
For example, if you work at a desk or from home, you can set up a timer to remind you every half an hour or so. Once it goes off, get up, walk around a bit, stretch, and sit back down. I’ve also personally used a stand-up desk. It’s an investment, but it’s really made me alternate between sitting & standing up from day 1. See standing desks on Amazon.
2. Sneak More Steps Into Your Days
Walking is the easiest and most natural way to increase our physical activity, maintain our health, and burn extra calories each day. Walking is correlated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease (4) and also appears to be beneficial for our weight loss efforts (5). This makes sense, seeing as it helps us burn extra calories.
The best part is, walking is simple to incorporate. For example, you can:
- Take the stairs when possible
- Walk to the grocery store or coffee shop instead of driving (if it’s less than 15 minutes walking distance)
- Now that we’re in a pandemic and stay at home, take a walk whenever you call friends and family.
Use an app like Samsung Health to automatically track how many steps you take every day (Without having to think about it). It’s been great for accountability and has “forced” me to go on even more walks 🙂
3. Start Each Day With Five Minutes of Stretching
Let’s face it:
Most of us start our days off in a bit of a hectic way. The alarm goes off, and we rush to prepare ourselves, grab a quick bite to eat, and head out the door or go to our work-from-home station.
A great habit that did wonders for my health, well-being, and mental state is to spend as little as five minutes stretching right after waking up or right before going to bed. In the morning, this is a fantastic way to wake yourself up and gradually work on becoming more flexible.
For example, you can lay out a yoga mat. As you wake up, you will have a visual cue that you should initiate the action. Stretch your upper back, neck, shoulders, hips, thighs, and ankles, and go about your day.
4. Use Your Bike When Possible Instead Of Driving
Cycling is an easy way of doing cardio and does a fantastic job at helping us burn calories and stay physically active. You can also vary the intensity level, which makes it a good option regardless of your fitness level.
Riding a bike regularly can help you manage your weight and prevent unwanted fat gains. According to research, regular cycling is also beneficial for cardiovascular health, and overall body composition (6).
Plus, this is a fantastic way to reduce our carbon footprint and save up some money, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
Here is an idea:
The next time you need to run an errand that isn’t far from your home and doesn’t require you carrying a lot of products, take out the bike (or walk). And yes, you might be the only one riding the sidewalk in our car-obsessed culture, but chances are, you’ll enjoy it a lot and feel much better by the time you’re done.
5. Have a New Rule to Take The Stairs When Possible
One fantastic way to become more active is to take the stairs when possible.
Stair climbing appears to be an incredibly beneficial activity that brings cardiovascular benefits, burns calories, and can help us control our weight (3).
I setup a new rule for myself that might also just work for you: whenever I have to go up only 1, 2, or 3 floors, I need take the stairs. No exception! This rule has worked for me really well. because it forced me to take the stairs when needed, but allowed me to still take the elevators in certain cases 😊
For example, the next time you’re at the mall, take the stairs when possible instead of an elevator or escalator.