By Professional Physical Therapy
In today’s fast-paced world, finding a balance between staying active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be challenging. Yet, within these challenges lie numerous opportunities to transform our routines and bolster our well-being.
We unveil 25 essential tips that serve as steppingstones toward a more active and healthier lifestyle. Each tip is a testament to the transformative power of simple, intentional actions. Whether it’s incorporating bursts of exercise during TV time or transforming household chores into workouts, these tips are designed to empower you, providing the knowledge and motivation needed to lead a more active and healthy life.
So, let’s start this transformative journey, exploring the many ways in which you can infuse your days with movement, mindfulness, and the joy of feeling good.
- Start Your Day with Stretching: A brief morning stretch of even 10 minutes can help limber up your muscles, improve your circulation, and set you up for a less stressful day, plus, it feels so very good. You can also try incorporating a few simple stretches at the end of the day to help avoid sore, stiff muscles and joints, especially if you are behind a computer for hours each day.
- Prioritize Regular Exercise: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a few days of the week. Activities like brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or dancing can significantly improve your cardiovascular health and overall fitness.
- Exercise in Smaller Increments: While a good goal is to get at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity, you don’t necessarily have to do all 30 minutes at once. It’s still possible to benefit from doing several shorter bouts of exercise throughout the day—perfect if you have a packed schedule and only short windows of time to get moving.
- Partner Up: Sometimes it’s hard to stay active when you have to do it alone. Finding a partner who’s willing to exercise with you makes men and women more likely to increase physical activity and be more consistent.
- Add Strength Training: During strength training, you work your body using some form of resistance, such as dumbbells, resistance bands or even your own weight. Include these types of exercises in your routine to build muscle mass, improve metabolism, and enhance overall body strength. It’s especially important, for people over 30 that begin to lose muscle mass. Resistance training can slow down the loss.
- Sneak in Exercise During TV Time Instead of just sitting on the couch while watching TV, use commercial breaks or slower scenes to do quick exercises. You can do lunges, squats, push-ups, or even jog in place. It turns your leisure time into an opportunity for physical activity.
- Practice Mindfulness: Incorporate mindfulness activities like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises to reduce stress, improve focus, and promote mental well-being. Practices like yoga not only can help relieve stress and anxiety but it can also help improve flexibility and ease back pain from sitting all day.
- Track Your Steps: Tracking your steps with a fitness tracker, smart watch, smart phone, or pedometer is an easy way to ensure you’re getting enough activity in each day. A step counter holds the wearer accountable to whatever number they hope to achieve each day. The average American walks 3,000 – 4,000 steps per day, or about 1.5 – 2 miles. Increasing your step goal each week is a surefire way to incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine.
- Balanced Diet: While you may have heard this tip hundreds of times, there’s a good reason. It’s because eating a variety of healthy foods will give your body the proper energy and nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Adopt a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid excessive sugar, processed foods, and saturated fats.
- Cook at Home: Prepare meals at home using fresh ingredients. Cooking your own meals allows you to control the ingredients and make healthier choices.
- Drink Plenty of Water: Staying hydrated is immensely important throughout the day. Proper hydration is essential for digestion, skin health, and overall body function. Grab a water bottle and carry it with you throughout the day to make it convenient for you.
- Take the Stairs: Choose the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can. Climbing stairs is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that engages multiple muscle groups and can burn more calories than jogging. It’s an easy way to stay active, even on busy workdays.
- Lunchtime Walks: Use your lunch break to go for a brisk walk. Invite your colleagues to join you for a walk outside. Not only does this provide physical activity, but it also offers a mental break and a chance to socialize.
- Use a Standing Desk: If possible, use a standing desk at work. Standing while working can reduce the negative effects of prolonged sitting, such as back pain and muscle stiffness. You can alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. If you don’t have a standing desk, schedule a standing meeting, or stand during a conference call.
- Practice Exercises at Your Desk: Desk exercises aren’t just limited to stretches and seated movements. Try isometric exercises at your desk. For example, press your palms together in front of your chest and push hard for 10 seconds, then release. This engages your chest and arm muscles without requiring much movement You can also try seated leg lifts, shoulder shrugs, or seated marches to keep your muscles engaged without leaving your desk. These exercises can help improve flexibility and muscle tone.
- Do Home Chores as Exercise: Turn household chores into a workout. Vacuuming, sweeping, gardening, and other chores require physical effort and can help you burn calories. Challenge yourself to complete these tasks with enthusiasm and energy. And the best part is you’ll get to cross items off your to-do list at the same time.
- Make Sleep a Priority: This one is essential. Without a good night’s sleep, you can’t be productive, leaving you feeling sluggish, irritable, and tired. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Quality sleep is crucial for physical and mental recovery as well as good overall health.
- Make it a Habit: Doing physical activity regularly and planning for it helps make it a regular habit. Stay committed to your fitness routine and dietary choices even on busy days. Just like you may be used to eating lunch around noon or dinner at 6 p.m., try to set a consistent time for physical activity. Knowing that your daily walk, jog, or swim will take place after work or every Saturday morning helps ingrain it as a habit, rather than a one-off experience. Put it on your schedule so you’re less likely to miss a day.
- Get the Family (or Pets) Involved: Making movement a family affair can provide inspiration and accountability for staying active. After all, we are more likely to stick to a healthy habit when we have others to join us. Getting active with pet companions is another way to incorporate more movement. Tossing a ball with your pet or walking the dog can be fun and gets you moving.
- Find an Activity You Enjoy: The likelihood that you’ll stick with a regimen that engages in physical activities you actually like and look forward to are essential for long-term commitment. If long walks aren’t your thing, consider looking into fitness classes or finding beginner yoga workouts online that you can try at home.
- Limit Screen Time: Reduce the time spent on electronic devices, especially before bedtime. Excessive screen time can interfere with sleep patterns and lead to eye strain. You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish when you put your phone down and stop scrolling.
- Socialize and Connect: A busy social life means a more active lifestyle. Spend time with friends and family to foster social connections. Positive relationships can reduce stress and contribute to a sense of belonging.
- Get Regular Health Check-ups: Schedule regular check-ups with your healthcare provider to monitor your overall health and address any concerns promptly.
- Consult a Physical Therapist: A lot of people don’t get enough physical activity every day because they’re dealing with chronic pain that can make it difficult, uncomfortable, and sometimes unsafe to move. One of the biggest benefits of working with a physical therapist is that he or she can provide services that alleviate your pain, improve your balance, function, and strength, and increase your confidence and self-efficacy so daily exercise is manageable.
- Celebrate Progress: Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. Acknowledging your progress can boost your motivation and confidence.
Staying active and healthy involves making mindful choices in various aspects of your life. By incorporating some of these tips into your daily routine, you can create a foundation for a healthier and more active lifestyle. Cheers to your health, your happiness, and the vibrant life that awaits you!
If you are experiencing pain, our certified therapists at Professional Physical Therapy can help. Get started today and make an appointment for a consultation so you can feel better and get back to doing the things you love.