Do you ever pledge to be more active but feel unmotivated or tired? If so, you are not alone. According to the World Health Organization, 60 to 85% of the world’s population does not engage in enough movement, making physical inactivity the fourth leading risk factor for global deaths.
There are a variety of reasons people find themselves largely immobilized. Maybe you have a desk job, are an avid online gamer or have suffered an injury that limits your mobility and endurance.
Unfortunately, spending most of the day seated can have a negative impact on your health. This type of lifestyle raises the risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. While science says it’s important to keep your body in motion, many still struggle to make the effort to engage in enough physical activity to be healthy.
If you are in a sedentary routine, it is important to incorporate daily habits that will keep you living well. Here are three strategies that will encourage you to move more and counterbalance the effects of prolonged sitting.
Easy does it
Many people feel intimidated when they imagine what an exercise routine entails. It’s easy to automatically imagine a professional athlete and assume that this is what you should strive to become if you want to be healthy.
The truth is, you don’t have to run a marathon – or even a 5k – to improve your health. Just 30 minutes of exercise per day will have a positive impact over time.
One strategy you can adopt is engaging in planned spurts of activity throughout the day. For example, you can do 10 squats after you use the restroom, take a brisk 15-minute walk after dinner and do 50 crunches in the morning before you get dressed.
Regardless of the exercise method you choose, don’t forget to stretch before you get moving. Even for people who work all day seated – such as accountants, professional players, video makers and designers – it is important to do some stretching, such as the backwards arm cross or yoga poses.
Rethink your diet
If you spend most hours of your day in a chair, what you eat becomes even more important. While eating well can not replace regular activity, it can help counterbalance some of the negative health effects.
Opt for colorful meals that are rich in fruits and vegetables, and be mindful of your portion sizes. If you are tempted to fill a second plate, wait 15 minutes and see if the urge subsides.
Meal prepping is also key for setting yourself up for dietary success. Take a day to bake a couple of casseroles for you and your family to eat throughout the week. Prepare freezer meals to store so you always have something healthy on hand to eat with minimal effort. Meal prepping will lower the chance that you will settle for fast food and other unhealthy options.
Drinking plenty of water is another way to fill your belly and curb hunger. Take your weight and divide it by two. Strive to drink that many ounces of water each day.
Work around your challenges
The excuses are endless when it comes to neglecting daily exercise. You may tell yourself you’re too tired or that you don’t have the time or motivation. Sit down and write a list of all the reasons you do not exercise, then face them head-on by countering each reason with a workable solution.
For example, waking up as little as 30 minutes earlier or vowing to walk during your lunch break are simple compromises you can make if time is an issue. Meal prepping also helps clear a large chunk of your day that would have otherwise been spent in the kitchen. You can use the time gained to follow along with a 30-minute workout video on YouTube.
If your issue is energy, consider a good pre-workout supplement that will give you the jolt you need. Evaluate which time of day you feel most energetic and find a way to incorporate some type of movement then.
Although those who have back and knee injuries face a greater challenge, there are ways to get your heart rate up that do not require strenuous movements. Doing sets of punches and swimming are options to consider.
We all dream of living a happy and healthy life, but wellness takes effort. Refer to these tips when you fall into an inactivity slump. Remember, your health is your biggest investment.