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Stuck to Your Chair? 12 Ways to Get Moving

Body+Soul, March 2006

Find more opportunities to get up during the day, and you'll feel energized, focused, and relaxed.

Although there's no doubting the importance of regular exercise, incorporating more movement into your day shouldn't be limited to structured activity. Simply getting up -- out of the chair or off the couch -- can make a difference in your health.

The challenge lies in finding and creating more opportunities for physical activity, however small. It's a process not unlike the decision to eat more vegetables. A collection of simple, healthy strategies can upgrade your daily diet of activity. Try one or two of these suggestions -- or do them all. It's up to you. Any small change you make has the potential to affect how you feel today and how you'll feel years from now.

The Benefits of Not Sitting Still
-
Stand up for an additional hour each day. You'll burn an extra 5,000 calories over the course of a year.

- Every 20 steps, you burn one calorie.

- Accumulate 30 minutes of movement each day for increased energy, lowered stress levels, and more restful sleep.

Stop Sitting Basics
Stand Up Two or Three Times an Hour
If you spend the majority of your day sitting, make it a goal to get up and do something a few times every hour, even if it's just stretching, taking a walk through the office, or getting a drink.

When the Phone Rings, Get Up
Intermittent calls can prove an easy and frequent reminder to get up. Try standing for the duration of the call.

Cut Back on Long Meetings
Reduce time spent sitting by suggesting a standing-meeting policy for weekly updates or staff meetings. Standing meetings communicate that you're going to hit the high points, coordinate necessary action, and then move on. Or, if possible, have a walking meeting, which lets you be productive in more ways than one.

Move Through a Mental Block
If you're stuck -- on an idea, a project, a problem -- take a few minutes to leave your work space and do a more physical task that lets you get up and move (like going through your mail or cleaning your office). Taking a physical and mental break can help refresh your senses and renew resolve.

Walk Your Talk
The beauty of living in a wireless world is that you're no longer chained to one spot. When you're listening to your voice mail or talking on your cell phone, make it a point to stay in motion, even if you just pace back and forth.

Pick Up the Pace
Want to ramp up a bit? Squeeze even more physical activity out of an opportunity by quickening your step or climbing those stairs faster. By upping your effort, you maximize this opportunity.

Lighten Your Load and Increase Your Trips
Rather than risking injury by carrying too much at once, go for the lighter load. Carrying fewer bags of groceries at a time or making an extra run to the car when packing for a trip not only may prevent potential strains but also will build a little more activity into your day.

Do a Prime-Time Stretch
To break up longer periods of watching TV, use commercials as a reminder to stand up and move -- whether it's to stretch or throw in another load of laundry. If you spend a few hours reading in the evening, make it a point to stand up at chapter or section breaks.

Skip Delivery
Walk to the corner store to buy the newspaper. Go out and get your food rather than having it come to you. Sure, you might drive to the location, but at least you're moving, even if it's simply walking to your car.

Do Errands on Foot
If you live or work in an area that's pedestrian-friendly, take advantage of it and walk to places such as the post office and pharmacy. Rather than doing one huge shopping trip every week, make a daily trip to the market and pick up just what you need for that night's dinner.

Walk to Neighborhood Functions
Although you may not live close enough to town to do your errands without a car, you can probably walk to a neighbor's birthday party, barbecue, or other local event and not take the car a few blocks to your destination.

Do Some Layover Laps
Instead of parking yourself in a chair at the airport terminal or the train or bus station, walk around while waiting to board. The same goes for killing time at the doctor's office or pharmacy, or waiting for a table at a busy restaurant.

Text by Terri Trespicio