ADVICE

Move more, feel better!

Reviewed by our expert panel
woman running

With our busy schedules it can be difficult to find time to hit the gym or head out for a run. As a result, exercise often gets put in the ‘too hard’ basket.

Keeping your daily routine as active as possible can provide many positives, and this challenge is about finding ways to increase movement without it impacting your already busy schedule. Incidental exercise can help to keep you mobile, burn energy and remain fit.

Your challenge: Commit to at least three changes that will help increase your level of activity throughout the day.

Why bother? Because there are so many benefits to being more active:

  • You’ll boost your energy levels and feel less tired
  • It’s great for stress relief
  • You’ll keep your bones and muscles strong, and your joints flexible
  • By moving more and using cars less, you’ll also have a positive impact on the environment
  • Exercise reduces your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

How to make it happen

Incidental activity is any activity you do that builds up in small amounts over the day, for example, walking up the stairs at the office or walking to the bus stop.

Even just standing up counts, so stand on the bus or train during your commute, and stand up at your desk as you take a stretch or when you talk on the phone.

Try the following ways to increase your incidental activity, without dramatically impacting your normal routine. Remember, any exercise is better than nothing!

At work:

  • Walk up the stairs instead of taking the lift
  • Get off the train or bus a few stops earlier or park further away and walk the remainder
  • Organise a regular exercise session at work and encourage everyone to get involved
  • Leave the office during your lunch break for a 15-minute walk outdoors
  • Walk around the office during calls (if you are not required to be seated at your desk)
  • Try the new coffee place a few blocks over, instead of the one in your building
  • Get up and walk to a colleague’s desk to talk instead of sending an email
  • Inquire about getting a stand-up desk at your office

At home:

  • Go for a short walk before breakfast or after dinner
  • Be active while watching TV, for example, ride an exercise bike or walk on a treadmill
  • When the TV commercials come on, stand up and stretch or do something active, such as squats, leg lifts or marching on the spot
  • Challenge yourself to do the washing, vacuuming or mopping a bit quicker, to work up a sweat
  • Take smaller loads of washing up and down the stairs or from room to room, rather than doing it all in one go
  • Do some gardening or mow the lawn
  • Stand up to stretch for at least a few minutes each hour
  • Limit TV, computer and other electronic device use. Go for a walk instead of scrolling through social media feeds

Leisure time:

  • Park further away from the entrance to the shopping centre and walk the extra distance
  • While at the shops add in an extra lap of the centre
  • Walk around the field while you’re watching your kids’ Saturday sport
  • Kick a ball or throw a frisbee in the park
  • Go for a bushwalk
  • Head down to the local pool for a swim
  • Walk to your local restaurant/shops/cafe, instead of driving
  • Meet friends for a takeaway coffee then catch up and chat while walking

Take action

Now’s the time to select and write down which of these three things (minimum) you’re going to commit to. Add reminders to your calendar or planner to help make these changes happen. Try buddying up with someone in your workplace and committing together to the same three changes so you can keep each other accountable.

And finally, don’t forget to make it fun! Movement you enjoy is movement you will stick to.

First published: Jan 2022
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