There are all sorts of activity tracking devices on the market today, pedometers, Fitbits®, Jawbone wristbands, smart watches, even your phone comes equipped with tracking features. Yet, with all these devices prompting us to move, hard data reveals that the average North American is still quite sedentary. Maybe these new gadgets should come with a built in “kick in the butt” feature that sends out an alarm when we sit for too long?
Physical activity plays an important role in our health and overall well-being. In addition to burning calories, regular movement lubricates the joints, gets the blood flowing, and helps spark energy levels. We all struggle with, and are challenged by time management, it’s tough to get to the gym or to take time to run your favorite trail. Don’t despair, even small amounts of physical activity can provide health benefits. Here are some ideas for increasing steps and movement throughout your day.
• Ride your bike or walk to work or school – for some this may not be a realistic option but for those who are able, do it! In addition to burning off your breakfast calories, you’ll save on gas and time. You will be able to whiz right by those cars piled up for school drop off. MBTS has a Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee whose charter is to encourage walking and biking in Manchester through advocacy, education and enhanced safety. This committee in conjunction with the regional school district, the board of selectman and the department of public works obtained a state safe routes grant for over $500,000 for redesign and improvements to streets, sidewalks, parking and signage. They’ve provided over 1000 helmets and conducted numerous safety education trainings with school children. There is not a better or safer time to walk or bike the streets of Manchester!
• Take the stairs – if feels too daunting at first to go round trip, opt to take the elevator up and walk the stairs down, you will burn additional calories and develop stamina in your legs.
• Invest in a stand up desk – you burn more calories standing than sitting and its better for your posture. If you aren’t able to get one of these ergonomic desks, make it a habit to get up each hour and walk around. Sitting for more than one hour is detrimental to your health.
• Shop Local – rather than drive out of town each time you need to pick up a few things, put a basket on your bike, or a pack on your back and head into the village to get what you need.
• Park further away – if you are like me, you celebrate your amazing “parking karma” when you find a spot close to the door of your destination. Or you spend time driving around the lot waiting for a spot to open up. Even worse, you sit live parked waiting for someone to leave their spot. All of this to save ourselves 10 yards of walking. We all need to park further away! We’ll drive up our steps for the day, burn a few calories and stretch out.
• Get a dog – walking your dog is great exercise for both you and your faithful friend. They challenge you to walk faster at times of curiosity and they force you to bend over, stretching out your legs, for doggy bag clean up.