I sit. I sat.
I’m not sitting quite so much these days.
Instead, I’m trying to channel my inner James Brown and Get Up Offa That Thing!
How’s that for a little inspiration?
Unfortunately, I’ve found over the last few years that inspiration doesn’t get me very far. I’ve been sitting a heck of a lot the last few years, and even though I know I need to move more, I’ve had trouble actually doing it. So this year, I’m trying a couple of extra tricks to get off my butt and make movement a priority.
The Problem With Sitting
Unfortunately, many of us live in a sedentary world, and I’m a natural sitter. I spend a lot of time in front of a computer, both at work and at home. I get stressed out and want to just sit on the couch and veg. Or I indulge in my favorite activity, reading in a cozy nook. All of these things have me sitting far too much and for far longer than I should.
And all of the associated sitting leads to a bunch of health problems, which in turn compromises our financial stability.
Expensive, even in an age where your preexisting conditions are covered.
So far, I’m only struggling with the first. But as you age, the risks for each go up. This year I turn 50.
I can’t really afford to keep pursuing my health goals near the bottom of my to-do lists. So at the moment, I’m pursuing a few more priorities that revolve around not sitting. Last year I just set an average total step goal. This year, I’m still watching my steps on my Fitbit, but a bunch of other things too. Active minutes, longest time sitting, and the number of hours with at least 250 steps are all on my watch list.
This is the year I get up offa that thing and make movement a priority.
Trick 1: Use The Fitbit
I’ve had my Fitbit for a little more than a year, and by fall of last year, I mostly ignored it. Turning 49, though, seemed to trigger a bunch of health anxiety. I charged up the Fitbit and started taking it for walks again, but made a few tweaks to the settings that are helping me get with a better program.
- I set alarm timers at intervals during the day: 10, 12, 2, and 4. This reminds me to get up and move at the earliest convenience if I haven’t in a while. Yeah, once an hour would be better, but this seems to have cut my longest sitting time during the day by almost 45 minutes.
- I changed the default setting on my FitBit app so that it tracks the hours I get at least 250 steps a little earlier and later in the day. Although I can’t set this as a primary goal, I’m using it as one. I want at least 6 hours with 250 steps, which seems reasonable when I make a goal of it.
- I’m also watching my total active minutes. My first goal is 150 active minutes a week, but I’m hoping that goes up over time.
Yeah, I’m using a Fitbit, but you can get a lot of the same stats with other fitness trackers or even smartphone apps. If sitting is your problem, setting a reminder to get up and move (or even just stretch) can help. So can taking a few extra steps during the day. If you can take a slightly longer route, park a little further from your destination, pace a bit as you talk, you can add a lot more movement to your day.
Trick 2: Jump on Our Exercise Equipment
Last year, I tended to get off my exercise plan whenever the weather turned. Whether it turned hot, cold, rainy, dusty, or just dark, I let outdoor conditions determine whether I was going to get a reasonable amount of activity during the day.
That was silly, and I should have been tougher. But I’m a weather wimp, and I’m launching plan B.
We have several
bulky coat racks pieces of exercise equipment around our house: an elliptical machine, a couple of stationary bikes, even a rowing machine. There’s no reason not to put them to work to ensure a little exercise when outdoor conditions don’t meet my perfect standards.
In the past, I’ve used the stationary bikes more. Now, I’m using the elliptical. It has the benefit of not being a sitting activity (unlike the bikes or rowing machine). On days I’m not getting a walk, I’m trying to at least get a few minutes on the elliptical. Even a couple of 5-10 minute sessions a day adds up to reduce your health risks from inactivity.
If uncomfortable weather keeps you from filling your activity quotas, find some indoor options. You can join a gym if you want the social interaction, but home exercise equipment can be much cheaper, depending on what you choose.
Yes, new exercise equipment can be expensive. But older exercise equipment is one of the easiest items to pick up used for deep discounts. Older machines work just fine if your desire is just to add a little more activity to your routine. Our stationary bikes are ancient, and someone gave us our elliptical machine for free because they no longer used it. Keep an eye on Craigslist and Facebook groups for a couple of weeks and you should be able to pick up something reasonably cheap.
Trick 3: Stay Hydrated
You know what happens when you drink a bunch of fluids, right?
Staying fully hydrated has a number of health benefits. Your skin looks better and stays healthier, your body processes works better, you eat less. In my case, I even get fewer headaches.
Staying hydrated helps me get off my duff more often too. When you drink more, you have to get up to go to the bathroom. Hence, movement and shorter sitting times.
I carry a 24-ounce refillable water bottle around and try to refill it a couple of times a day. Between that, coffee, and tea, I need plenty of potty breaks during the day.
Trick 4: Get Paid to Move
Since I started Swagbucks, I have signed up for many things to earn my favorite gift cards.
Get enough sleep? Check. Tweet about healthy habits? Yep. Hit your step goals? You got some points!
You just connect your apps or even your social media accounts, and Achievemint will give you points for your activities. While I’m using Fitbit and Twitter, there are a host of other fitness apps you can attach to your account. Everything syncs automatically, so using Achievemint is super easy.
And while I’m a long way from getting paid, checking my points on a weekly basis is helping motivate me to get stronger and healthier. Points expire a year after you earn them, so you do need to make an effort to get paid. With that in mind, I’m trying to pick up the pace so that my initial points don’t expire.
Make Movement a Priority
I have no excuses now. There’s no reason not to get up off my butt and MOVE.
As Mr. and Mrs. Groovy keep reminding me, maintaining good health is a key factor in successful retirement planning. If I don’t make movement a priority, someday I might not move nearly as well. Sitting might be less of a choice and more of a necessity. No one wants that. It’s a lot more expensive AND a lot less fun.
And for me, willpower enough doesn’t do it. I’ve tried willpower, and I continued to sit.
So I’m tricking myself into getting a little more movement each day. Trying a few hacks to make sure that when I’m old, I can still dance TO James Brown if not LIKE James Brown. Life’s just too short not to get a full dose of soul.
So if like me, you have trouble making movement a priority, try a few of these methods to work yourself into a sweat…or at least shake til you feel better!
What tricks do you use to work more exercise and movement into your day?