It’s not enough just to eat good food anymore. In order to be healthy, we must be active.
Dr. James A. Levine, Director of Obesity Solutions at the Mayo Clinic, and inventor of the treadmill desk, believes that it is the lack of activity that is making us obese. Levine has published studies on how just by moving more, we can lose weight and lower our risk of heart disease and diabetes.
According to his research, just by increasing our activity to include an additional 2 1/2 hours of light activity (walking less than 2 MPH, light housework, etc.) we would lose 36 pounds per year. (2 1/2 hours of walking less than 2 MPH is the equivalent of 10,000 steps, which is what we are doing in the FitBit Challenge.)
I’ve personally experienced this — I have lost 20 pounds in the past 2 months since I started using my FitBit to get 10,000 steps per day. I walk 4-5 miles on my treadmill desk every morning as I check email and complete various tasks.
Dr. Levine cites modern technologies as the cause of obesity — we sit in front of computer screens all day, then sit in front of a TV screen at night. Instead of walking or biking to work or to shops, we sit in a car. We use labor-saving devices to do everything from washing our clothes to dishes.
Research shows that the human body is not meant to sit for 8 or more hours a day. Experts are saying that “sitting is the new smoking”.
A study published in the journal Diabetologia in November 2012 analyzed the results of 18 studies with a total of nearly 800,000 participants. When comparing people who spent the most time sitting with those who spent the least time, researchers found increases in the risks of diabetes (112%), cardiovascular events (147%), death from cardiovascular causes (90%) and death from all causes (49%). (Source)
If you want to effortlessly lose weight, and get healthier, you’ve got to get up out of your chair and move around.
50 Ways to Get More Active
Here are some ideas for how to get more active.
Walk briskly, climb a few extra stairs, walk up a hill, tread water and stretch in the pool instead of just lounging, skip rope or play tag with the children. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
Note: If the idea of exercising vigorously scares you, start with small doses. Do an activity that will get your heart beating faster, even just for a few minutes at a time.
1. Go for a walk. This is the easiest thing you can do right now to start getting more active. You don’t need to go fast. I do my best to get in 10,000 steps or more each day (I use my FitBit to keep track).
2. Do your own laundry. Even better, hang it outside on a clothing line.
3. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
4. Ride your bike or walk to work instead of driving.
5. Swim laps.
6. Park as far away as you can from where you’re going so you can get more steps.
7. Go rollerblading.
8. Put your filing cabinet on the other side of your office, instead of under your desk, so you have to get up every time you want to file something.
9. Take a yoga class.
10. Learn how to snowboard.
11. Vacuum the rugs or mop the floor.
12. If you have an office job, get up and walk for 10 minutes every hour.
13. Listen to audiobooks or podcasts instead of sitting down to read. You can listen while you do something else (do the dishes, organize your closet, or what-have-you).
14. Get a dog and take it for walks every day.
15. Cook your own meals instead of eating takeout or fast food.
16. Take a dance class.
17. Plan vacations around activities — walk, hike, go surfing or skiing.
18. Play soccer with your kids — or join a local team.
19. Lift weights.
20. Hang your clothes outside on a clothesline instead of putting them in the dryer.
21. Take up rock climbing.
22. Chop firewood.
23. Start a garden. Not only does gardening burn a lot of calories, but it’s a great feeling to grow your own food. If you don’t have a place to garden at home, look into joining a community garden.
24. Wash and dry dishes by hand.
25. Go for a jog. I never thought I’d enjoy running, but I’m starting this week to learn how to do barefoot running.
26. Go for a hike. New to hiking? Join a hiking Meetup group.
27. Clean house.
28. Take a martial arts class. Nothing like getting a black belt to get your self esteem up!
29. Get a treadmill desk. Read my review of my treadmill desk here.
30. Get a rebounder. Burn calories while you watch TV or listen to audiobooks.
31. Get a stepper — for under $100, you can get steps while you watch TV or talk on the phone.
32. Take up golfing.
33. Take a spinning class.
34. Go horseback riding.
35. Stain some furniture or paint a room.
36. Ride a bike. Join or start a biking group, or ride your bike to run errands.
37. Do jumping jacks, sit ups, and other exercises at home or in the gym every morning.
38. Take up surfing.
39. Take ice skating lessons.
40. Play ping pong (I’m seriously thinking of getting a ping pong table).
41. Go kayaking.
42. Take up photography. Taking pictures gets you outside and walking — and you can plan photography trips.
43. Work with a trainer at a gym. Getting a trainer really helps you stay committed to working out.
44. Get off the bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way home.
45. Take a pilates class.
46. Go white water rafting.
47. Can’t walk due to snow? Get some snowshoes! I went snowshoeing a couple years ago in Sun Valley and loved it!
48. Play tennis.
49. Join a bowling league.
50. Rake leaves and prune trees instead of hiring someone to do it.