5 Ways to Sneak in Healthier Habits
At this point, many of us know the dangers of sedentary lifestyles. From obesity to heart disease and depression, those of us with a 9-to-5 desk job need to make a special effort to stand more and sit less. The great news is you don’t need to bust out a standing or walking desk (although you should if they interest you!).
Studies show that as little as seven minutes of moderate physical activity a day can help battle the desk doldrums.
Dr. Adrienne Youdim, MD FACP, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine Cedars Sinai Medical Center, offers simple tips to incorporate healthier habits into your day, courtesy of MerckManuals.com.
1. Use your job as a gym
You don’t need an expensive gym membership to get moving – simply create small breaks in your day. Set a timer on your phone to get up and move around every hour. Walk up and down a few flights of stairs or take a loop around the parking lot.
Many employers have realized the benefits of a healthy workplace. Research shows active employees are more productive and have lower long-term health care costs. Some companies are now investing in standing desks and small cycles that fit under employee’s desks. If your company offers this kind of equipment, taking advantage of it is a no-brainer.
2. Wake up 10 minutes earlier
If you can’t find time for an hour-long workout in your daily routine, create the time by setting your alarm just ten minutes earlier. Give yourself a few minutes of physical activity before your day gets crazy.
But don’t overlook the importance of sleep. Research points to a close connection between sleep deprivation and obesity and diabetes. Make sure you’re getting at least six hours of sleep (many people need more than that). If you’re getting up earlier to exercise, hit the pillow a few minutes earlier, too.
3. Pack a lunch
If you do one thing to improve your daily health, make it this: pack a lunch. The average restaurant meal contains two-thirds of your daily calorie requirements. Even a salad can be spoiled by high-calorie dressings. Packing a lunch is an easy way to control your calorie intake.
While you’re at it, use the time you would have spent picking up takeout to go on a 15-minute walk at lunch. One short walk and five-minute breaks every hour add up to almost an hour of additional activity a day.
4. Find your best motivation
Most of us are exhausted by the end of the work day. Even if we have the best intentions to exercise when we get home, it’s easy to lose motivation the second we walk through the door.
The key is to find things that motivate you. If there’s a TV show you can’t wait to watch, commit to only watching it while running on the treadmill or elliptical. Keep a log of how you feel after every workout, so you’ll remember how rejuvenated you feel after some physical activity. If you feed off others’ energy, join a group fitness class.
5. Explore an active hobby
Being active doesn’t have to mean doing jumping jacks or logging hours on an exercise bike. Spending time doing something active you love, such as dancing, gardening, fishing, rock climbing or bowling, can provide tremendous health benefits – and you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Once you get started, you’ll start forming habits that make it easier and easier to find the time and willpower every day.