Especially for those of us who work in offices, getting enough exercise can be a challenge. Even if you go to the gym regularly, you can boost your overall health by increasing your overall activity level during the day. In addition to overall fitness, cardiovascular health, and strength, regular exercise can even improve your sleep! However, building habits can be difficult! Here are some tips to help you develop healthier movement habits, whether you are a devotee of your local gym or just starting out!
Slow & Steady
If you’ve ever been in a gym right after New Years, and then again at the beginning of February, you probably know the feeling: sometimes we get excited about new habits and then burn out right away. It can be alluring to buy a new gym membership, get new workout clothes, splurge on a new indoor bike, or sign up for that local half marathon—but take a breath! While setting goals is a helpful tool, biting off more than you can chew is a great way to end up burning out. Instead, try to start slow. Pick up lighter weights until your muscles are used to those bicep curls. Add an extra couple blocks onto your lunchtime dog walk instead of trying to take a ten mile weekend hike.
When you are adjusting to new routines or exerting yourself, don’t forget that rest and recovery are a sign of strength, not weakness! Taking a walk on your lunch break may not seem like a lot, but 30 minutes of walking every day is going to make a noticeable difference to your body! If you just started lifting weights, you’re probably going to be sore! Starting off slow should help prevent exhaustion or pain, but being tired or sore is normal.
Working (Out) At Your Desk
If you’re at your desk for long hours, as many of us are, consider finding ways to incorporate movement into your workday. For some people that might mean taking a short walk on a break or doing a few minutes of yoga. If you have the space, consider testing to see if a standing desk or treadmill desk might be a good option for you.
Stability vs. Variety
Some people prefer the comfort of doing the same thing every single day. Whether this is taking a class at the gym or taking the same walk every morning, this sort of routine can bring comfort to many people. Others need variety, and may want to turn a different direction every time they walk out that door, or bounce around from one activity to the next depending on the time of year and their mood. Whether you prefer to do the same thing every day or lots of different activities, focus on consistency—try to shoot for engaging in activity for a short period of time every day, or an hour 4–5 times a week, rather than popping in and out every few months.
The best time to exercise is when you’ll actually do it. Sure, joining your community soccer league requires being able to fit it into your schedule, but for the most part, focus on what works for you. Some people can’t stand the idea of getting up before work to exercise; other people find that it gives them energy to get through their day. Some people swear by standing desks or other tools to make them more active while working; other people prefer to step outside and away from their notifications. While there may be slight differences in what makes one “type” of exercise better than another, the best exercise is the exercise you can and will do regularly! So whether you’re lacing up your sneakers and hitting the road, or taking off your shoes and pulling out your yoga mat, find the way that works for you to increase your movement every day!