When it comes to movement, I try to make my days as inefficient as possible. I know that sounds crazy—especially since my book is all about getting more out of doing less—but hear me out. By doing things less efficiently (walking to the coffee shop instead of brewing a cup at home, pacing inside while talking on the phone, choosing the stairs) I’m able to build more organic movement into my day.
I do this despite getting regular “exercise”. Why? Because my health depends on it and so does yours: Earlier this year the American Heart Association published a research-based advisory warning that even vigorous exercise doesn’t seem to erase the damage that multiple hours of sitting does—namely increasing your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
There’s also evidence that how active you are over the course of a day can impact your weight. On average obese people sit for two and a half hours more each day than lean people and lean people stand and walk an average of more than two additional hours a day than obese people, according to research by James A. Levine, MD, Ph.D., a professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic.
That’s why I challenge myself, my clients, and now all of you to get at least 10,000 steps a day. That number may seem arbitrary, but 10,000 steps roughly equates to 5 miles, which (when it includes 30 minutes at a moderate intensity) satisfies CDC guidelines of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
It may also feel high. If you’re like the average American, you’re currently only walking about half as much. But that’s ok. It just means you’re going to have to consciously build more movement into your day. So, grab a friend and schedule regular, “formal” walks around your neighborhood, or adopt my strategy and think of ways you can make your life less efficient—ie: park your car farther from entryways, walk over to a coworkers desk instead of emailing them, etc… .
If you use a Fitbit Alta, Flex 2, Charge 2, or Blaze you can also enlist your tracker’s help.
Just click the Hourly Activity tile on your Fitbit app dashboard and customize which hours of the day you want to aim to get 250 steps—or roughly two to three minutes of walking, which has been shown to help offset the negative effects of sitting. Your tracker will buzz ten minutes before the hour if you have yet to hit your goal.
Absolutely no time to move? Try one of these 13 ways to sneak fitness into your day. Or pick up my book, 5 Pounds: The Breakthrough 5-Day Plan to Jump-Start Rapid Weight Loss (And Never Gain it Back!, for more ideas.
Next, discover Three Ways Sleep Deprivation Makes You Fat—Plus 5 Ways to Get More Shuteye. It’s the fourth part of the My 5 Plan.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.