Most of us are aware of the many benefits that physical activity affords, but many times it can seem almost impossible to squeeze any regular exercise into our hectic daily schedules. We may often lose the battle of waking up early to exercise before work, and by the time we come home in the evening, the last thing we feel like doing is slogging it out at the gym. Fortunately, there are several physical activities you can engage in to promote better health, and they don't require a gym membership or exercise equipment to perform. As a matter of fact, one of the easiest ways to improve your health is by making small adjustments to your daily routine that will keep you more physically active throughout the day. Below are some simple changes you can make that will help you live a more active lifestyle.
1. Take the stairs whenever possible. Any time you have to go up (or down) three floors or less, opt for the stairs instead of taking the elevator. If it's a little too tough to cover more than one floor at the moment, try to walk at least one flight of steps and then take the elevator the rest of the way. As you practice this simple activity, your stamina will gradually increase, and eventually you'll be able to breeze through three (or maybe more) flights of stairs at a time. Making these types of choices when the opportunities present themselves will positively impact your health over the long haul.
2. Don't choose the closest parking space. Whether you're making a quick run to the store or spending a couple of hours at the shopping mall, try to park far enough from the building to add a little bit of extra walking to the mix. This will tack on a few extra seconds to your overall trip, but it's well worth it to keep your heart and body in better shape.
3. Engage in housework on a regular basis. This may not be most people's idea of a great time, but taking care of common household chores is a great way to burn extra calories while being productive. Cleaning can actually be a great workout, because you'll typically do a lot of walking, scrubbing, lifting, bending and stretching, all of which are good for your body. Something as simple as sweeping or vacuuming the floor can be physically invigorating, because it gets your muscles working and your blood flowing.
4. Get your hands dirty by planting a garden or doing some yardwork. Tilling soil, planting seeds and pulling weeds will keep you in motion, and you get to enjoy some fresh air to boot. If you don't have that much of a green thumb, doing yardwork such as raking leaves, mowing the lawn or trimming your hedges is a great option as well. All of these activities will work multiple muscle groups and get your heart rate going. Sunlight is another benefit of being outdoors; numerous studies have shown that getting moderate amounts of sunshine on a regular basis can help your body to produce Vitamin D, a key nutrient for cardiovascular health.
5. Take a family walk after dinner. This will help stave off those all-too-common feelings of post-dinner lethargy by getting more blood pumping through your system. Taking a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood with your spouse and/or children is also a great way to spend time together and create new memories.
6. If possible, stand up while working. Sitting in a chair for eight or more hours a day is one of the most detrimental things you can do to your health. Scores of recent studies have revealed that prolonged sitting increases your risk of developing a number of serious illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and various forms of cancer. If it's possible for you to get a stand-up desk, do so, but if not, make sure to take several standing breaks throughout the day. Try not to let more than an hour go by without getting out of your chair to visit the water cooler, go to the restroom or even take a quick peek outside to breathe some fresh air.
If you'll notice, none of the above tips require any dramatic lifestyle change, nor are they overly strenuous. Making these small adjustments to your daily lifestyle is an investment that will increase your overall health and sense of well-being.