Are you ready to continue your healthy living journey? In my opinion, many people complicate the idea of healthy living too much. When it comes down to it – there are 10 steps that everyone should focus on to begin their healthy living journey. From there you can customize things further to be YOUR healthiest version of yourself. But start with these 10 Healthy Living Baby Steps. Go back and read that post and start incorporating steps 1-4 into your life. When you’re ready – here’s step 5! Healthy living baby step #5 is to create an active lifestyle. Keep reading to see why that’s important and learn nine ways you can create a more active lifestyle.
Why Having An Active Lifestyle Is Important
Having an active lifestyle is so important for your health and wellness! Here are some reasons why exercise and/or movement are important:
- Helps you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
- Strengthens bones
- Builds muscles
- Improves brain function and memory
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Boosts mood
- Boosts energy
- Improves sleep (as long as you don’t workout right before bed!)
- Reduces your risk of disease
- Reduces your risk of diabetes
- Improves longevity of life
- Lowers blood pressure
- Helps you perform daily functions more easily
If you’re experiencing health issues, adding some physical activity and movement into your life is bound to help you improve and just feel better overall! I know I feel more energized and happier when I exercise and just move more throughout the day.
Ways to Create a More Active Lifestyle
Here are some ways you can create a more active lifestyle and support your overall health and wellbeing.
1. Move Every Hour
An active lifestyle does not just mean exercising daily. Being active is so much more than exercising! Exercising is usually just 20-60 minutes of a 24-hour day. That’s a very small percentage (2-4% to be exact)! So if you exercise an hour a day, does that give you permission to just sit and be sedentary the other 23 hours in the day?
First of all, you don’t need permission to sit if that’s what you feel you need to do. And I’ve totally been there at times when I feel depleted of energy and what my body is telling me is that I need to sit or lay down and rest for a while. But for the average person, it’s not healthy to be sedentary for most of the day.
Non-exercise daily activity (also known as NEAT – Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) is even more vital than exercise! We burn more calories through our daily movement than we do in a traditional workout. Workouts are important too, but put more focus into just moving your body more throughout the day.
Get your body up and move around! This can be hard if you have a desk job where you need to sit for hours a day. However, most likely, you can take a break every once in a while to stand up, stretch, and move a little bit.
My advice (disclaimer – I’m not a doctor, but just a health enthusiast and soon-to-be holistic health coach!) is to get up and move every hour. I’m right there with the office job people during days where I’m writing a blog post or when I’m editing a YouTube video. Those days I am spending hours sitting down on my computer.
I’ve experienced the back, shoulder, and neck pain, commonly called tech neck, from sitting hunched over at a computer for too long. Putting your shoulders back, having your computer at eye level, and sitting ergonomically is important, but so is taking breaks for movement.
One way that I like to get more movement in on long computer days, is to get up every hour to stretch, do some jumping jacks, squats, or another body-weight exercise, walk outside a little, or do something else where I’m walking around the house. I might take breaks between sitting to do a load of laundry, put clothes away, or clean the floors – something where I’m up on my feet and moving!
2. Park Farther Away
This is a super simple way to get more movement into your life. Instead of opting for convenience, opt for more activity. Park farther away when you go places like the grocery store or Target. I know it’s amazing when you can get a parking spot close to the entrance of Target! That doesn’t happen often where I live! But, think of the benefits of getting the few extra steps instead. Yes, parking a little farther out won’t give you that many extra steps, but all those extra steps will add up! If you park as far out in the parking lot as you can instead of close to the door every time you go somewhere, that will add up to a lot of calories burnt and more time outside to get your Vitamin D!
3. Take the Stairs
Just like step 2, taking the stairs is a great, simple way to add more activity into your life. When you visit a hotel, the hospital, the mall, your doctor’s office, whatever – if you need to get to another floor, choose the stairs instead of the elevator. Unless you’re going way up, it’s probably not going to add that much time, when you figure waiting for the elevator to come down, the other people to get out, and then getting to your floor. You use practically the same amount of time to get some extra steps and some movement in.
If you’re staying at home and you have stairs in your home, go up and down them a few times throughout the day. This is a super simple way to get your heart rate up and burn some calories. Going up and down the stairs five times could be the movement you do each hour to break up your time sitting.
4. Track Your Steps
I shared a few ways to get more steps into your day. Another way is just by tracking your steps. If you wear an Apple Watch or a FitBit, they make it easy for you! Try to get at least 10,000 steps a day. If you’re a stay-at-home mom that can be difficult. But you can get creative! Go on walks with your kiddos in your neighborhood. Walk back and forth around the house, maybe while picking up the house. Okay maybe it won’t be that difficult! That’s probably the main way I get my steps in! You can also multitask by walking around while you’re brushing your teeth or talking on the phone.
5. Schedule Your Workout
This one is so vital for me. If I don’t schedule it, I have a hard time actually doing it. But if it’s on my to-do list I will do all I can to do it, so that I can put that little check next to it (Enneagram Type 1 here!). If you’re like me, scheduling your workout will help you actually do it too.
Mark on your planner or calendar what workout you will do AND what time you will do it the next day. I like to plan my week out on Sundays, and when I’m planning my to-do’s, I include my workouts. I write out what workout I want to do each day – whether that’s a workout from my Madeline Moves App, a walk or run, yoga, or something else.
To be honest with you, lately my workouts have not been super intense. I’m in the process of rebalancing my hormones. I’ve dealt with adrenal fatigue (due to stress) and other hormonal imbalance out (low estrogen, low progesterone, low thyroid hormones – basically low in EVERYTHING!). One of the main symptoms I’ve had is fatigue.
Thankfully, it’s much better now than it was. But I still do need to be careful to not overdo it. More on that in a later post. But, basically, I listen to my body and schedule workouts that I know I can handle without getting fatigued for days afterward. I’m not going to schedule intense, hour-long workouts 7 days a week. I usually schedule a HIIT or circuit-type workout three days a week and do yoga or walks two days a week in between the other days. And then just rest two days a week, because I’m not going to OVER schedule myself. As important as exercise is, rest is also important. Gotta have a good balance!
6. Choose Workouts You Enjoy
If you hate the workout you’re doing, chances are you’re not going to stick with it. Choose some type of activity you enjoy doing. It does not have to be a formal workout or a run. If you love playing basketball, by all means play basketball for your workout! If you love yoga, do yoga! And if you like swimming, go to your community pool (or your own if you’re blessed to have one!) and swim laps. Just find something you love and can stick with and do it. Doing something – even if it’s not the most intense, calorie-burning exercise there is – is better than doing the best workout a physical trainer could create, but one that you hate, can’t stick to, and end up quitting.
7. Make It a Family Activity
One way to enjoy your workouts is by doing them with your family! What does your family enjoy doing together? Think of fun things you can do together that are active. A family that exercises together stays together!
I love being active with my family! It kills two birds at once. You’re getting exercise in, you’re spending quality time together, and (I guess three birds), if you’re doing something active outdoors, you’re also getting some Vitamin D! Some active things we enjoy doing together are: hiking, bike riding, going on walks, playing basketball, and doing YouTube workout videos. I homeschool my kids, and I try to incorporate a “PE class” daily. So sometimes we find kids’ workout videos on YouTube to do together.
8. Make It Convenient
One way to ensure you’re getting physical activity into your daily life is by making it convenient. When you make it super convenient, you make it almost impossible to make excuses.
One way to make it convenient is by getting your workout outfit out the night before. My husband and I have started waking up early and exercising before he has to go to work. I’m not an early bird; so waking up 5:15 is not the easiest for me. But having clothes ready (and the coffee ready!) makes it a lot easier to get going.
You can also make the location of your workout convenient. If you work outside the home, it’s probably not convenient to drive 30 minutes one way to the gym and then 30 minutes in the opposite direction to go to work. That’s probably not going to last. Instead, try to find a gym (or a walking trail) that’s on your way to work.
Or, better yet, workout at home. This is what I do now, and it definitely eliminates a lot of excuses! We’ve gotten some exercise equipment to create a little home gym. But really, you don’t need to get a lot. There are so many body weight workouts you can do with no equipment at all! Or invest in a set of dumbbells, a yoga mat, and/or some resistance bands.
It’s important to have a plan and know what workout you’re going to do. If you’re not a physical trainer or an exercise enthusiast, it can be hard trying to figure out what to do. Thankfully, there are so many physical trainers out there that have already done the work of developing awesome programs! You can find paid programs or follow free YouTube videos. Like I said, I do some of Madeline Move’s workouts. I also love Sydney Cummings videos for building muscle/burning fat and Yoga with Adriene when I’m wanting a slower pace, more relaxing and stretching type of workout. They both make it super convenient! Just grab your mat or your weights and push play! Another good one to follow for daily workout tips, motivation, and personal training packages is Brandon Gainey with Dark Horse Performance.
9. Find Someone to Hold You Accountable
Finally, to help you create a more active lifestyle, find a family member or friend to hold you accountable. If you’ve read Gretchen Rubin’s book The Four Tendencies or have heard of her work (If not – I HIGHLY recommend checking out her books and her podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin!), you probably know that there are four types of people – Rebels, Questioners, Upholders, and Obligers. This tip is mainly for the people that are obligers. If you’re an Obliger (which is the most common type), you do well with meeting outer accountability but struggle with inner accountability. You’re a people pleaser. You’re the type of person that would excel with an accountability partner.
If that’s you, find a friend to check in with you daily to see if you met your move goal or if you exercised today. Or find a friend to work out WITH you! This is even better because, not only are you getting your physical activity, but you’re also getting community, which is also great for your health and mental well-being!
I hope you found these tips to creating an active lifestyle helpful! What’s your favorite way to get physical activity into your daily life? Let me know in the comments!