“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
That is the same approach you can take to becoming more active and healthier. You don’t begin exercising by running a marathon. You make small steps that begin to accumulate into a larger fitness practice. The following 23 tips are simple, actionable ways to impact your health and fitness in a positive manner, and most of them apply to just about anyone.
1 – Take the Stairs Instead of the Elevator:
This one is in the #1 spot because you see it on every list about changing your lifestyle to become more active. Too many people respond to this tip by saying “I don’t have stairs or an elevator in my life.” The idea here is to get used to looking at simple daily tasks and activities with a different mindset. Instead of just normally doing whatever you do every day, actively seek ways to keep more active.
2 – Walk When You Would Usually Drive:
This makes as much sense as tip #1. Some people actually drive their car to the end of their driveway to pick up their mail. If your job or place of business is only 1 mile away from your house, why aren’t you walking instead of driving? There are plenty of opportunities each week to shun the car keys and enjoy a healthy walk, rather than sitting on your posterior in your car.
3 – Stretch, Walk, Exercise for 10 Minutes First Thing in the Morning
If you head straight for the coffee maker each morning, that’s okay. As soon as you have dusted off the morning fog though, why not take a 10 minute walk? Alternately, you could exercise or stretch in your home. Studies show that morning exercise leads to better sleep patterns at night, and also tends to lead to consuming fewer calories during the day.
4 – Forget the Bag Boy:
Carry your own groceries to your car. Unload your groceries from your shopping cart into your vehicle. This may not seem like much of an impact on your health, but it takes a lot of single steps if you want to walk around the world. This simple weekly activity reinforces the idea of looking for daily fitness opportunities in your mind.
5 – Get a Dog:
Dogs need to be walked daily. Regardless the breed, they require daily exercise. They also need to get out of your home and head outdoors to take care of their “business”, to put it in a nice way. Getting a dog means having a constant companion that can boost your mental health, as well as improving your personal safety and security.
If you really love animals, you can take this tip a step further and get a part-time job as a dog walker. Not only could you make an easy couple of hundred dollars every week walking dogs before or after work, your body will benefit from the extra exercise.
6 – Get Plenty of Sleep:
Proper sleep is directly related to fitness and overall health and well-being. Don’t be the person that thinks you are special, who only needs 5 or 6 hours of sleep every night. If that is you, you are no doubt choking down the coffee and sugar in the morning, eating sweets and sugar-filled products and energy drinks to get throughout the day, and you’re sporting the extra body weight that accompanies this type of lifestyle.
Adults need 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night, with no exceptions. Sleep researchers have proven that poor sleep patterns leads to a higher incidence rate of disease, illness, infection, as well as a shorter lifespan. Also, studies show that you can’t “catch up” on missed sleep. When you wake feeling rested and refreshed, you have more energy and mental power to fuel a fit and healthy lifestyle.
7 – Cut Back on Your Sugar Consumption:
Sugar is downright deadly. It is often blamed, and rightly so, for the fact that 1 in 3 people on planet Earth are overweight or obese. When fat was vilified in the mid-1970s, sugar became the #1 flavor delivery system for processed food. It is no coincidence that childhood onset obesity and diabetes was extremely rare until the mid-1970s.
Fat does not make you fat, sugar makes you fat.
The way your body processes sugar leads to an overabundance of fat storage when you consume too much of the sweet stuff. How can this help you become more fit? When you are overweight and obese, you are sluggish, chronically tired and fatigued, and you don’t feel like working out or exercising. Cut back on the sugar consumption for an overall promotion of internal and external fitness and health.
8 – Stand at Your Workstation When You Can:
Stand at work if possible. Most workstations are not fit-friendly. They require you to sit all day long, which is incredibly damaging to your health. Throughout the day, you probably have opportunities to stand while you handle your responsibilities. Listening to a conference call, checking your email, and any communications you handle on the phone are all chances for you to stand rather than sit.
9 – Exercise While You Watch TV:
Take a long, hard look at the following TV viewing information taken from the United States (Nielsen Corp).
• Children aged 2 to 11 watch more than 24 hours of TV each week. That is 1 entire day spent doing nothing but watching television, usually seated.
• You watch roughly 20 hours of weekly television if you’re between the ages of 12 and 17.
• If you are 18 to 34, you average 22 to 28 hours of weekly TV viewing.
• As you get older the numbers rise, unfortunately. Those 35 to 64 watch a staggering 33 to 44 hours of television every week. If you are over 65, you are parked in front of a television set more than 7 hours a day, for 50.5 hours per week.
Be honest, how often do you watch television standing up? The answer is … never! You could definitely boost your health by exercising, stretching or simply standing as you turn your brain to mush while you’re watching unrealistic “reality” TV, or the “newly released but same as before” zombie movie.
10 – Go Dancing Every Weekend:
Not everyone enjoys dancing. However, if you do, why don’t you get out and join your friends on a weekly basis, cutting a rug for some calorie burning fun? If you were born with 2 left feet, join a local dancing instruction club where you have the opportunity to socialize while learning how to dance.
11 – Stop Paying Someone to Mow Your Lawn and Handle Your Landscaping:
Do you pay someone to mow your lawn? Does someone other than yourself care for your yard, your shrubbery and your landscaping? If so, this is an opportunity to put some serious money back in your pocket, while getting healthier and more fit.
You have to get the lawnmower out of your garage or shed, make sure it has gas, clean your yard of any debris, actually cut your grass, possibly blow or rake afterwards, and perform regular maintenance on your mower. If you have more than a simple yard to cut, your landscaping responsibilities are even more involved. Health authorities have discovered that people have less stress and anxiety when they spend time outdoors regularly.
So not only do your fitness efforts improve when you handle your own landscaping, but your mental and emotional states of beings benefit as well.
12 – Head to the Local Mall:
Huge shopping malls sprang up in the 1970s in the United States and around the world. They give shoppers access to dozens, or even hundreds, of stores, in a covered, climate-controlled environment. This means they take up a lot of space, which requires that you walk a good deal.
Some over-50 and senior citizen groups meet at the local mall weekly to take advantage of this walking-friendly resource. Even if you don’t join a club, you could hit the local mall every weekend without shopping on your mind. You might be surprised to know that you can easily walk more than a mile or 2 in this safe, indoor environment.
13 – Visit a Museum:
Museums require a lot of walking. You also enrich your mind and spirit while educating yourself on some topic or culture. For those that say walking around their neighborhood is boring, walking through a museum’s exhibits keep your mind occupied, and your feet taking one step after another.
14 – Schedule a Daily 20 Minute Walk After Work:
Groundbreaking research released in the early 21st century shows walking is better than running for improving your fitness. This research shows that people who run 5 miles a week or more actually shorten their lifespan, and do their health a disfavor. On the contrary, simply adding a 20 minute walk to your schedule each day improves your heart health, makes you feel better physically and mentally, and is a simple way to get into a fitness-oriented mindset.
15 – Stop Ordering Takeout on Lunch Break:
So many people today jump in their vehicle on lunch break. They head to a nearby drive-through and order their favorite heart attack in a sack. It was mentioned earlier, but definitely bears repeating – poor nutrition leads to little energy, which promotes a sedentary, non-active lifestyle. Instead of driving during lunch break to get something to eat, why not walk instead?
If there are no eateries within walking distance of your workplace, begin packing a lunch, and taking a short walk afterwards. Making your own noontime meal means you know exactly what you’re eating, and can help boost your fitness level by giving it the appropriate nutrition it needs.
16 – Start Doing Your Own Ironing:
Isn’t it wonderful that there is a drive-by dry cleaner right near your home? Each week you drop off and pick up laundry without having to leave your car. At worst, you only have to walk a few feet from the parking lot to the entrance of the dry cleaner.
Stop spending money this way, and start doing your own laundry. This includes ironing, which not only is a great skill to acquire, but requires a lot of standing and moving.
17 – Join a Theater Group or Drama Club:
Have you always thought you could become the next big Hollywood star? Maybe not. However, joining a local drama club helps you “come out of your shell” and dramatically boosts your self-confidence. It also improves your ability to communicate effectively, and you can meet some great new friends.
If you have never been a part of an amateur theater group that puts on plays, you will discover this is a very active pastime. Members of the group usually handle their own prop construction, and have to move props off and on the set. This can be a very enjoyable way to improve your fitness level, especially for those with creative personalities.
18 – Join a Kickball League:
It may surprise you to know that there are kickball leagues in most major cities in the United States. Even if there isn’t one where you live, you can start one. Kickball leagues are arranged by age group, and are an excellent way to bone up on your social skills while also improving your fitness level.
19 – Stop Parking Upfront:
When you drive to work, do you park as close as you can to the entrance of your workplace? If you attend college or university, do you do the same thing, trying to limit how far you have to walk? This is an excellent opportunity to add some simple walking exercise to your daily schedule.
Park further away than you are used to when you are shopping at the mall, going to school, driving to work or wherever else you have a chance to enjoy some walking exercise.
20 – Purchase a Pedometer, Fitness Tracker:
If you have a smartphone, there are dozens of free fitness trackers you can download. If you decide to buy a fitness tracker or pedometer, you can spend as little as $10 or well over $100, depending on features, accuracy and whatever your budget can stand.
Downloadable applications which track your calories burned, steps taken, heart rate and other important physical metrics are not as accurate as wearable devices. However, using any type of pedometer or fitness tracker subconsciously makes you concentrate on getting healthy, and is a smart move no matter how accurate it is.