Organic Liaison Health Director Deborah Klein, M.S., R.D. answers your health and nutrition-related questions!
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Even while juggling a non-stop work schedule, home life, and personal life, we still need to make MOVING a priority—to get lean, stay lean, and maintain optimal health!
At Organic Liaison, we believe in gradually working your way towards the workout goal of moving an hour a day. Include aerobic exercise daily and resistance training for about 15 minutes a day, up to 4 times per week. You can make that a reality by putting in ‘moving time’ throughout the day.
Focus on just MOVING, rather than the need to exercise. It makes moving a lot easier to do, and all that activity will add up to quicker weight loss results.
10 ways to turn your daily activities into mini-workout sessions:
1. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Whenever you can, take the stairs. Seize the opportunity to get moving, burn calories, and build lean muscle (which helps you burn calories even faster).
2. Park further from your destination (somewhere safe, of course). When time is not an issue, pass up closer parking spaces. Go for the furthest place possible, to add more walking to your everyday errand runs.
3. Put on music when you get home, then move and groove! Dance around your house; march, jog in place, or do jumping jacks to kick those legs up. Just move your entire body at a pace that gets your heart rate up; you want to be sweating but still able to talk. (The talk test is a great guide to making sure that you’re moving at moderate intensity.)
4. Use work breaks as MOVING time. The most effective way to stay productive and alert at work is to take breaks every 45-60 minutes. Get up and move during those breaks: take a walk around the office; go outside and walk around the building; or go up and down some stairs.
5. Work your abdominal muscles anywhere. Simply stand and lift your knees while squeezing your abs; it’s a great lower abdominal workout. While you are standing, also move side to side, toward the right, then toward the left, like a pendulum, to work the oblique (side abdominal) muscles. You can move side-to-side to strengthen abdominals even while you are sitting at your desk; this feels great on the back. (Plus, strong obliques can prevent lower back pain!)
6. Replace your desk chair with a large stability (Pilates) ball, for a few hours during the day. By balancing yourself on the ball and bouncing up and down from time to time, you burn more calories than by just sitting still in a chair. Plus, this works out your core.
7. Have walking meetings or walking phone calls. If you are making a call on your cell, go outside and walk around while you are talking. Walk for at least 15 minutes while you are returning those voicemails. Ask your co-worker to walk and talk, when brainstorming or discussing ideas; you can still take notes while walking.
8. Get your resistance training in at work or at home. Take 5 minutes a day to build those muscles. Use resistance exercise bands/tubing (Therabands™) at work, or at home (before bed). The tubing is great since you get resistance in both directions, and they are easy to carry around anywhere.
9. While you are watching TV, lift free weights or use cardiovascular equipment (e.g. treadmill, stair master, etc.). When lifting weights, always focus on larger body parts first. Start out with 3 pounds, then move your way up in weight, doing 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions, always stretching in between sets. Exhale with exertion and inhale on the return. Just work 3 body parts at a time, (e.g. chest, shoulders and triceps one day; then back, biceps and deltoids another day). You know you are lifting the appropriate weight for yourself when the movement becomes difficult after the tenth repetition. If you can easily lift the weight and are able to lift it for 20 reps, you are not using your time effectively—time to increase the weight.
10. Wake up 30 minutes earlier to fit in a quick workout. Go for a morning run, do a workout video/DVD routine, jump rope, or dance.
These are just a few small changes you can make to increase your activity day to day. Eventually, you’ll see the changes add up and the pounds drop off more quickly. As always, pair your exercise with a good diet.
As a motivational thought, keep in mind that every time you MOVE, you are making your body a better calorie-burning machine. The more you move, the more lean (not necessarily bulky) muscle you build. The more muscle you have, the more effectively your body burns calories, even while you sleep!
Reference: J Sports Sci. 2007 Dec; 25 Suppl 1:39-47
Organic Liaison Health Director Deborah Klein, M.S., R.D. answers your health and nutrition-related questions every Thursday on the Organic Liaison Facebook Page.
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[Image: from Andre Charland's Flickr Photostream/Creative Commons]