How do I start moving more?

How do i start moving more without exercise

If you make just one change this year in your quest for better health, it should be this: move more, move often.

Medical researchers have detailed many health risks of sitting too much, from a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and depression to muscle and joint problems.

Sitting is the enemy, but it’s sedentary behaviours that increase our risk. If you take a look at your day-to-day life there is time spent commuting, eating meals, working at the office, and then relaxing in front of the TV. One study found an average of 7.7 hours of sedentary behaviour daily. 

Small changes throughout your day can make a major difference.  

How to move more if I have a desk job? 
Try to turn regular touchpoint meetings with colleagues into walking meetings.

How to move more if I have a desk job? 

I discuss this topic with my clients on a daily basis. I challenge my clients to move often during their workdays. I recommend movement breaks about every hour even if it’s just for a few minutes. Breaking up the time spent sitting can have a very positive effect on how your body (and mind) feels throughout the day.

Here are a few options for a movement break:

  • Stretching or exercises
  • Grabbing a drink of water
  • Taking a washroom break
  • Taking a dance break

Other ways to add movement to your workday:

  • Stand up and walk while taking a phone call that doesn’t require note taking (bonus points if you can do these calls outside).
  • When possible, turn off your camera during a meeting and do some stretches/exercises.
  • Try to turn regular touchpoint meetings with colleagues into walking meetings.
  • If possible, try to build movement into your commute (ride your bike or get off the bus a bit early and walk the last few blocks) or take a walk at lunch.
  • Ask for a sit-stand desk option so you can change your position during the day.

Fitness watches and apps such as Nag can help remind you if you have been sitting too long and need to get up and move. Wearing a fitness watch or step counter might also motivate you to reach or surpass your daily step goals.

Read about: Gym anxiety: why you have it and how to cope

What is the best exercise to do? 

It’s very simple. Choose the exercise that you enjoy and that you will do. There are so many amazing options available including hiking, walking, running, in-person workout classes, dance lessons, or playing a sport you enjoy. There are also many online workouts available, such as dancing, walking, kickboxing, and many more.

Ways to Move More With Kids
If you get outside with your kids, you can skip the workout at the gym

If you’re a parent, remember you are also setting an example for your kids 

The Canadian Movement Guidelines recommend children and youth (5-17 years old) should get at least 60 minutes a day of aerobic activity. As well, they should have moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity three times per week. And they don’t get it all at daycare or school.

Children and youth (5-17 years old) should get at least 60 minutes a day of aerobic activity.

The Canadian Movement Guidelines

Often parents are yelling at kids to ‘stop climbing,’ ‘get off the furniture,’ and ‘be careful.’ Instead, consider looking for ways to arrange your home to create spaces where the kids are free to move. I have seen parents go as far as building monkey bars in their basements and buying mini trampolines or gym mats to encourage more movement each day.  

Some ways to get moving inside:

  • Make an obstacle course (once you do this a few times, they’ll start making their own).
  • Start a game of freeze dance or YouTube’s “Bluey’s Yoga Freeze Dance.” 
  • Have a dance party.
  • Play animal charades (pull an animal name or picture out of a jar and mimic how the animal moves while other players guess what you are).
  • Play games on a Wii or similar video game system where you have to move to play.
  • Start a game of hide and seek or “spies” that takes kids from room to room.

Of course, the best option for everyone is encouraging outdoor play.   

I remember being told to get out of the house often when I was a kid. My parents didn’t tell us what to do, but we knew staying in to watch TV wasn’t an option. Even in the winter, we would spend hours outside with friends – having snowball fights, climbing the snow hill in the middle of our court, and building forts.

Read about: Why muscle is your secret weapon against aging and illness

I am currently working on instilling the same love of winter in my young daughter. I know we just have to encourage it, which at this stage means playing outside with her.

I feel lucky to live in a region with nearly endless options for walks and hikes and outdoor adventures as a family. The bonus: if you get outside with your kids, you can skip the workout at the gym. A good hike can be a great cardio workout, and have you tried the monkey bars lately?

Remember to ease into increased movement

So often the root cause of my clients’ injuries is doing too much too quickly. Many of us, myself included, have an all-or-nothing mindset. This is an important mindset to break. The goal is to progressively increase your activity level. It can start with movement breaks during your workday.

Then it might be adding a 10 to 15-minute workout or going for a walk around the block. The key to avoiding injury and building a habit that will stick is to start small and build from there.