You already know that you're supposed to exercise for an hour a day, most days of the week, but what do the rest of your days look like? Do you sit down for the majority of your day? Are you mainly sedentary after your workouts?
For those of you who consistently log in the time and effort every week to prioritize exercise, I applaud you. You're on the right track. But if you're horizontal on the couch right after your workout, or burning hours in front of your computer on your butt, your leisure time could be in need of a little activity.
If you want your body to be as healthy as it can be, you can’t go workout for an hour and be sedentary the rest of the day. If you want to avoid the negative health effects of too much sitting, find ways to move more — in addition to your regular workouts.
1. Sneak in extra exercise.
Say you go to a workout class or do an exercise DVD early in the day. Your moderate activity for the day is finished. Terrific! Now you have the rest of the day to sneak in some bonus exercise. Maybe it’s a walk after a meal or taking the stairs whenever you have a chance. Crank up your favorite music and clean your house by putting your whole body into it. That may not sound like a thrilling idea, but you'll burn extra calories and get a sparkling house in the process. If that’s not for you, chat on the phone and do some calf raises or throw a dance party with your kids. If you view your time as an opportunity to get bonus exercise, all sorts of creative ways to burn extra calories will just come to you!
2. Make a family activity list.
Ever notice you see what you focus on? If you buy a new red sports car, you are suddenly going to see red sports cars everywhere. You notice them because that’s where your focus is — there aren’t suddenly more of them on the road. It’s the same way with family exercise. Sit down as a family and brainstorm an activity list and post it somewhere you all can see it. If the various activities you do as a family are on your radar, you'll be more likely to do them. Anything that will increase your activity works: bowling, miniature golf, volleyball, rollerblading, cycling, hiking, swimming, camping, paddle boarding ... if it involves movement, add it to your list.
3. Use your own body weight.
Don't think you need a gym or all sorts of equipment at home in order to get more movement into your days. Use your own body weight and do some push-ups, planks, squats or lunges. All four of these exercises are extremely effective at building muscle, getting your heart rate up and burning calories.
4. Find a fair or festival.
Before you get too excited, I'm not suggesting you indulge in the fried foods that are often found at state fairs. But you can find festivals or fairs in your community that facilitate walking. Rack up your steps at an art festival, or dance at a music festival. If you can avoid the calorie-laden foods, you can increase the amount of steps you take and have some fun while you're at it.
5. Support a cause.
A great way to make your leisure time more active is to sign up for a walk or a run that supports a great cause. This is a great activity to do as a family and show your kids the importance of making healthy choices and giving back to a charity at the same time. Find a charity you are passionate about and look on their website for an event near you.
Finding ways to get bonus movement into your day will boost your health and can help your weight loss efforts too. To discover the additional calories you will burn doing various activities, check out Harvard Medical School’s chart of activities and calories burned. The list includes gym workouts, training and sport activities, outdoor activities and home and daily activities.
With a truly active lifestyle, your whole body will benefit!