Recently I’ve become very conscious of how sedentary my job is, and it’s making me feel uncomfortable. If I didn’t make myself exercise, I’m sure I would hardly move.
You may think I’m being melodramatic, but it’s true;
I drive to work (parking as close as possible to the surgery), sit down at my desk all day, and drive home again in the evening. Obviously I usually potter around at work a little, but hardly enough to reach my target of 10000 steps per day.
I run or go to the gym most days, so generally reach this target with ease, however, I’m still not happy. I don’t want to be the person that’s slumped in a chair all day and then runs 5km to make up for it. I want to have an active lifestyle, and in my mind, that means consciously trying to be active and healthy as often as possible, not just going to the gym.
With this in mind, I’ve been trying to make some small changes at work to make me more active throughout the day. I try to walk to the waiting room to call my patients, rather than buzzing them in. If I’m going on a home visit, I’ll work out whether I have enough time to walk there and back rather than driving, and if on the rare occasion I have a spare half an hour at lunch, I’ll pop out for a quick walk (via a coffee shop of course).
This alone won’t bring me to my 10000 step target, but it certainly helps. I’ve also found I feel more motivated and focused in the day if I remain active.
I’ve recently been using a Jawbone fitness tracker, which is a great, albeit sometimes depressing, way to track my steps and activity. I find it really motivating and the knowledge that I can actively track my steps definitely makes me take more.
As Doctors, we advise people to take 150 minutes of moderate- intensity aerobic activity, such as walking at a brisk pace or cycling, as well as muscle strengthening activities on 2 days or more each week.
It’s easy to see why this is so hard for people to achieve; if you’re not actively trying to achieve these goals, it’s easy to be sedentary without even realising. Suddenly weeks, turn into months and even years of being inactive.
With his in mind, I thought I’d give some advice on how to make your day more active, without ever needing to enter a gym!
INCREASE YOUR STEPS BEFORE REACHING YOUR WORKPLACE
When you get to work, it can be really hard to get extra steps in, so take the opportunity to walk more in the morning. You could park your car further from the workplace, get off the tube or bus a stop early, or even walk to work if possible.
I used to walk to work and found it was a great way to start the day. I would arrive feeling invigorated, rather than stressed and irritable after a crowded commute.
WALK THE LENGTH OF THE TRAIN PLATFORM
If you’re early for your train, why not walk to the end of the platform and back again while you wait, or always aim to get on the train at the end of the platform to get a few more steps in.
SET AN “ACTIVE ALARM” ON YOUR PHONE OR FITNESS TRACKER
I’ve set my Jawbone to vibrate every half an hour if I’m inactive. Inevitably at work it vibrates quite a lot, but it provides a constant reminder throughout the day to remain active, even if I can’t get up at that moment.
If you don’t have a fitness tracker, you could set an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up from your desk each hour and take a quick walk. Use it as an opportunity to grab a drink of water, or chat to a colleague.
TAKE THE STAIRS
The lift is always so appealing, especially if you’ve got to go up a few storeys and you’re feeling lazy . I always find the stairs seem to be hidden away and poorly signposted, so it’s not surprising many of us don’t use them. I got in the habit of using the stairs when working in hospitals- it was always quicker to run up the stairs than wait for a packed lift, so I’d be going up the 7 flights of stairs to my ward several times a day, and definitely became fitter as a result. I also find it’s the perfect way to avoid any awkward lift conversations! Perfect for us self- conscious Brits!
I really believe using the stairs is a great way to stay active. You’ll get plenty of steps in, elevate your heart rate, and get a nice pert bottom in the process.
If you incorporate the stairs into your daily routine, I promise you’ll notice a difference!
GO FOR A LUNCH TIME STROLL
If ever I get the chance to pop out at lunchtime, I’ll take it. I love to detach myself from work for a few minutes and have time to myself. If I have time I’ll walk and get a coffee. I often choose to go to a coffee shop a little further away from work to get a longer walk in.
So, if you have time, why not go for a walk at lunch time, even if it’s just for 15 minutes or so, you’ll feel better for it and get a few steps in too!
KEEP BUSY AT HOME
I’ve been really surprised at just how active you can be at home. We live in a small house, but when I’m on a cleaning or tidying frenzy, or even just pottering around, I can clock up hundreds, sometimes even thousands of steps!
Unfortunately, it seems that cleaning is actually good for us.
WALK TO THE SUPERMARKET
It’s tempting to drive to the supermarket to avoid carrying heavy bags home, however, if you’re not doing a big shop, why not try walking to and from the supermarket instead? Carrying the bags while walking will really elevate your heart rate and give you a mini work out without even trying!
Warning: Use a bag for life- you only need your shopping bag to split and disperse its contents over the pavement once to learn this lesson and never forget it!
GO FOR AN EVENING STROLL
Similar to above, I often find it’s nice to go out for a quick evening walk. It’s a great way to prevent the post dinner sofa slump, and a chance to have a proper catch up with your partner/ housemate/ dog, rather than just watching TV or being glued to your laptop.
I’m still trying to reach 10000 steps a day by making simple changes, and I’m not going to lie, it’s hard, but I’m determined to keep at it and make myself as active as possible!
DO YOU TRACK YOUR STEPS AND IF SO WHAT FITNESS TRACKER DO YOU USE?
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE ON HOW TO STAY ACTIVE DURING THE DAY?