Be honest with me, are you sitting right now?
The answer is probably yes. In this day and age, we spend too much of our days sitting–whether it’s at a desk, on our couch or even in bed. With everything we need on our devices and at our fingertips, we are more inclined than ever to stay plugged in and be static. Even things like grocery store visits have gone from active errands that get us moving all day and give us a deeper connection to the food we’re consuming to a job we can delegate to someone else with a few extra dollars and the tap of a button.
Movement is crucial for keeping your body strong and healthy throughout your life. But how do you get back into the habit of moving when your routine has become so detached from it? How do you step away from that screen?
The ideas listed below are some that I’ve found can help me stay in-tune with my body and get moving.
Track your activity–or inactivity.
One of the most important things you can do to begin your journey towards more daily movement is to measure your current activity level, starting with tracking how many steps you take starting from the moment you get up each morning.
In addition to tracking your daily steps, start tracking the amount of time you spend sitting or lounging and the screen time that you have on your devices, whether that’s working at your desk or watching that new season of Stranger Things. Then, as you put in an effort to up your steps, you can try reducing that sedentary time as you go. Start with as little as 30 minutes and slowly work your way up.
If you’re struggling to remember while you’re in the beginning stages of developing this routine, try setting a reminder on your phone to get up and stretch, change position, or do some other type of movement regularly.
Get those steps in.
If you do nothing during the day but sit on the couch or at a computer, only getting up to go to the bathroom, you may take about 2,000 steps a day–maybe less. Try doubling that to start.
I’m sure everyone has heard that the common goal for steps should be somewhere around 10,000 a day or more, but that’s a huge jump for many people and there isn’t exactly a widespread anti-sitting movement for you to turn to in workplace scenarios. In reality, 7,500 steps per day seems to be where the benefits level out on average, with 10,000 and above being a great stretch goal; even getting yourself to 5,000 steps/day can be a vast improvement from the average reality of desk-working and home-sitting. So, instead of getting down on yourself for feeling like 10,000 steps a day is impossible, see it as your best scenario with the main goal of adding more movement to get you into that 5,000-7,500 range as often as possible.
If you’re struggling to get your steps in try some of the below ideas.
Requesting walking meetings at work at least two to three times a week.
Utilizing a standing desk at work to avoid sitting and keep your body ready for motion.
Instead of sending an email or message to your coworker, take a walk over to their desk and communicate in-person.
Taking the stairs more often. It’s easy and convenient to grab that elevator, but your body will thank you in the long run if you take those stairs.
At home or out and about:
Parking further away from your destination. If your choice is between that close-to-the-door spot and one way out in the lot, opt for the latter. You can squeeze in some extra steps to and from your car.
Allotting time to take a walk for 30 minutes after dinner to improve digestion and increase your weekly movement–get your partner or family in on the fun!
Listening to music! Sometimes all we need to motivate us to get moving is that perfect, upbeat tune.
Finding ways to keep your movement continuous for one hour a day while at home (get all the chores done before you sit down, play with your kids outside, cooking dinner, or have most of the dishes done before you sit down to eat)
Take time to unplug, unwind, and get in touch with your needs.
I love the practice of forest bathing. Sure, you can take some gentle steps in some new terrain as you wander to that perfect spot to take in your surroundings, but the essence of this practice is to unplug from the technology and chaos of the world and reconnect with nature. Maybe this isn’t an everyday practice if you don’t have the forest readily available to you, but you can make it a weekly day-off ritual!
This isn’t the only way to connect with nature–nor does unplugging have to be in solitude.
Try gardening, get your hands in the dirt, and care for some beautiful veggies, fruits, flowers, and herbs as you bask in the abundance that Earth provides us.
Check out some local groups on foraging or wildlife watching so you can get in with a group of like-minded folks that want to connect with the world around them!
Visit the beach with your closest friends and let the waves wash away your stress.
Take advantage of a beautiful day by having a picnic or reading your favorite book outdoors while you soak up some vitamin D.
If you like painting or art, try finding new landscapes to visit and get on your canvas or bring that sketchbook along on hikes to document new and interesting things you encounter.
Establishing daily rituals for movement and mental care doesn’t always have to look like going to the gym every day of the week and staring at a wall while you run on a treadmill or lift weights–-that simply doesn’t work for everyone. Simplify and do what you love to get those steps in and reconnect with nature.