Get Up Offa That Thing: Four Tricks to Make Movement a Priority

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.

Sitting is bad.Too much sitting can lead to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and a host of other health problems.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 

Get Up Offa That Thing: 4 Tricks to make Movement a Priority

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.

Last month I signed up for Achievemint, a website that pays you to hit exercise and health goals. For each 10,000 points, you can earn $10.

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?

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, and Racing Towards Retirement*

34 thoughts on “Get Up Offa That Thing: Four Tricks to Make Movement a Priority

  1. Thanks for the shout-out Emily! You can do it. I know you can. Can you bundle something enjoyable with your exercise, like listening to a podcast or watching a TV show while on the elliptical?

    I’m consistent with the daily aerobic exercise for heart health but the thing we women need to be perhaps even more concerned with is strength training. We’re not conditioned from an early age to build upper body strength so shoulders, arms and back are really important just for maintaining those ADLs (as they call them in assisted living and nursing homes – activities of daily life).
    Mrs Groovy recently posted…The Groovy Secret to Growing Your Net WorthMy Profile

    • I do try to listen to audiobooks while I use the elliptical or exercise bike. Or I proctor Little Bit’s homework.

      I know I need the strength training too, but I’m concentrating on one habit at a time. One thing I’d like to look into is finding an inexpensive but somewhat convenient yoga or tai chi class. Not this month, though!

      • I’d highly recommend Pilates if you can find a class near you. I’ve been doing it for 2 years and I can’t believe the difference it has made. Like on steep hill climbs, I’d soon get out of breath and sometimes my legs would even get wobbly. But now, I just brace my abs and somehow propel myself forward. It is definitely more effective than yoga for building strength. I’ve not had any experience of tai chi though. Although you need to invest in classes in the first instance to be sure you don’t do yourself more harm than good, when you get experiences, it’s easy to practice at home, whether that’s for 5 minutes or 45 minutes!

        • Pilates would be good too. My church offers a yoga class on Tuesday nights which is why I thought of that first, but I know there are several options at a nearby community center. Thanks for the suggestion, Sarah!

  2. I had been gym-less for quite some time after my gym closed, but at the end of November, Suzanne and I joined another nearby gym for a very reasonable rate. Right now I’m trying to build up my endurance on the treadmill, but I also want to do some strength training and try out some of the other machines. However trick #3 remains my primary exercise LOL. I also like the timers/alarms to remind you to get up, I may have to try that one. In any case, Mr. & Mrs. G are completely right, maintaining good health is critical to a happy and less expensive retirement.
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted…The Best and the Worst of Being Financially SuccessfulMy Profile

    • Hey, don’t knock number #3 (or is that #1?) Drinking plenty of water has a whole host of health benefits aside from making sure you have to get up often.

      The alarm is nice, and is a good reminder. One thing I read recently about why people who lose weight lose so much metabolic burn is that their skin loosens and the muscles that move their blood around don’t work as well, particularly if they are sitting for a while. So getting up and moving periodically can help counterbalance that a bit. I’m not sure I’m explaining that perfectly, but less sitting is especially important.

    • That’s great, Alexis. A little friendly competition can do wonders for keeping you motivated!

      and I know what you mean about working at home. In some ways it’s terrific, but it’s really easy for me to walk the 20 steps from my bedroom to office and sit in front of the computer for hours. I’m working in a small office for a bit, and that fact adds another 1000-1500 steps to my day without any extra effort.

  3. Good luck Emily. You’ve got this! I need to do more. I hate the winter months when getting out on walks is more difficult, but it shouldn’t be an excuse. I use my phone to track my steps, since I always have it with me. I just look at my total steps over the last few days and they are not very good. Time to go take a walk.
    Brian @ Debt Discipline recently posted…Teaching Your Kids about MoneyMy Profile

    • Bad weather (especially cold rain or super hot) has really gotten me off track every time I’ve tried a program of just walking. So do shorter days. Are there any alternate activities you can think of that you can easily substitute on days that the weather doesn’t cooperate, Brian? I think that’s going to be key for me.

  4. Thanks for the tips! Achievmint sounds like a neat app, I will have to check it out. If you can get the good habits in motion this time of year I think you are setting yourself up for success.

    And hey, I also struggle with exercising in the cold so I certainly can’t blame you for that!
    Jay recently posted…10 Steps to Building a Winning Trading Plan for 2017My Profile

    • Yeah, I hadn’t really heard much about Achievemint either, though it’s been around since at least 2013. I understand they make it harder to get points the more points you get. Still, it seems like a good motivator for some, even if it won’t make you rich.

  5. Good luck Emily. I installed a screen with Apple TV in front of our treadmill. I probably still should use it more but when I do it’s easier to do it watching some of my favorite shows.
    Maarten recently posted…How I made 20K buying a PriusMy Profile

    • That’s great, Maarten! I tried exercising in front of the TV, but it doesn’t work for me…I get frustrated at not being able to hear because the one problem with older exercise equipment is that it’s a lot noisier. The audiobooks (with headphones) work a lot better in my case.

      I do think setting up your exercise equipment in a good place can be the key to actually using it. Most people don’t think about that so much when they set it up. If you put it in a less pleasant part of the house, you may not find your way to it as often. Our elliptical is in the entryway from the carport, and a better location might make its use more attractive.

  6. I like #3, I have made drinking adequate water a priority this year.

    Somehow, I can just sit in one place for more than 30 to 40 minutes. I need to more around before I can get back to sedentary work. Even when I am on calls, I pace up and down.

    I go for walks in the morning. Personally, I don’t like any exercise machines or the gym. I prefer outdoor walks. One of the advantages of living in Texas is that you can go for a walk outside on most days of the year 🙂
    Michael recently posted…What is your Delilah?My Profile

    • I wish I had that issue, Michael. I can sit and work for hours, and before I set the alarms Jon was always bugging me about getting up at regular intervals a bit more. (Though I do pace and talk on the phone too…I just don’t talk on the phone all that much.)

      I can see where Texas would be good for that, LOL. And usually North Carolina is good too. I certainly have no excuse today…we’re supposed to hit 70 degrees after all our ice last weekend!

  7. I feel like you are always writing about the exact things that I am consumed with, like clockwork, Emily! Now that all the holiday madness is in the rear-view, it is impossible not to acknowledge the elephant in the room. Me. I am now the elephant in the room! lol, ok, maybe it is not quite that bad yet, but the holiday calories do not come off the way they did in my thirties, and I am freaking out about it a bit. I know that no matter what I eat, at my age, if I am not exercising, there is no way forward. But it is so hard, especially in the winter. If I am not fitting this in in the morning, it is not happening. And my kids just suck my soul in the morning. I hide under the covers until the last possible moment! My goal is to fit in a 7 minute high intensity work out in wherever I can most days. I need to find a way for my brain to make this happen. I did a 20 minute high intensity workout the other day and I was in serious pain. Which made me realize that 7-10 minutes is probably enough to give me what I need. I do a ton of walking – to school drop off’s, to the subway – not short walks. But at this point – they are really not enough. Lord help me!

    • I love living in NC, but one of the things I envy about you big city girls is how much easier and more necessary walking is in your community. Yeah, I have a huge yard, but mostly unless I make an effort otherwise I take about 25 steps…from my door to my car door, and then from my car door to wherever I’m going, LOL. Or from my bedroom to my desk. I have to start making more effort…and no, unfortunately it seems much harder as I get older. But I’ve noticed that the seniors in my knitting group all work out. I need to follow their example!

      I do like the idea of higher intensity workouts, and yeah, starting with 20 minutes may not be the best idea. I’m gradually amping up my elliptical times…I started out with a couple of 5 minute sessions and have got up to 18 minutes.

  8. I noticed that Uncle Jim was not getting off the couch anymore. He was starting to shuffle his feet. He refused to go out and walk with me. I talked to the Dr. and she recommended a stationary bicycle. Remember, he is 76 years old. I found a really nice one during Cyber Monday on Amazon and also got a nice discount and free shipping as a Prime Member. It came in two huge boxes the UPS man was kind enough to bring inside. Jim did the supervising and a little holding of parts while I assembled the bike. Most of it was quite easy, but awkward to try to hold and attach at the same time. After maybe four hours with lots of breaks we got it together. I programmed the electronics and taught him how to use them. I make sure he uses it at least every other day and he seems to already have a little more agility and energy. He is up to about 16 minutes now and I am very proud. I am thinking of using it myself

    • That’s great, Jayne. I’m glad Jim’s getting some activity and picking up his stamina. I noticed he was moving a bit slow in November, so nice to see a little more pep in his step.

  9. I was really fortunate this past year to get a standing desk at work. If you haven’t seen the Varidesks they are amazing. I can raise or lower it through out the day. So if I get tired on my feet I can lower it and then raise it when I’m ready to stand again. I had to build up until I could handle all day on my feet but it’s one of the best things that my work has invested in.
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…Can Your Dominant Hand Affect Your PayMy Profile

    • Cool! I don’t have a standing desk, but I love that you do and that it can convert from sitting to standing. Sounds like a great way of staying a little more active during your day.

  10. You have so many excellent points here, though the one that really hits home is the weather. Of course I’d rather be outside, but sometimes it’s too hot or too cold, or I’m at work during all our daylight hours and I don’t want to walk or jog alone after dark. We have an ancient treadmill that’s still kicking (though we replaced the control board with one from eBay last year) and I’ll walk slow-ishly on that while reading a book to keep from getting too bored.
    Kudos to you for making your health a priority this year.
    ChooseBetterLife recently posted…Are You Having a Conversation Or Just Waiting To Speak?My Profile

    • The darkness thing really gets to be a problem this time of year. By the time it’s light, I need to be getting my kid ready for school. By the time I’m home, it’s dark. it even affects my daughter, as right now it gets dark within an hour of her getting home from school.

      I’m envious of your being able to read and walk at the same time, but I guess I’ll settle for audiobooks. Glad you’ve found a way to get in your exercise, though, Julie! Thanks for coming by.

  11. I’m terrible about moving. I had a FitBit for a while last year and the competition with friends over steps really did help keep me moving at times. I lost it last winter though and haven’t really prioritized replacing it. When I’m home not working between shows, I force myself to move more by only allowing myself to watch TV if it’s a social activity with friends or family or while I’m running on a treadmill at the gym.
    Mel @ brokeGIRLrich recently posted…Financially Savvy Saturdays #177My Profile

    • Reducing TV is probably helpful, Mel. And we should do more of it, but we’d have to add Kindle time too…reading, games, FB scrolling all add to our total sitting time. We need some new hobbies!

  12. Whoa whoa whoa, get paid to get moving? I’m on it!

    Seamus is currently my crutch. He and I have standing walking dates three times a day and depending on how my joints and muscles are feeling, we go for as long as I can without pushing over the Collapse Barrier. Otherwise he’d have to drag me home and I’m not entirely sure he’s willing to sled dog it.
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life recently posted…My kid and notes from Year 1.10My Profile

    • I went to the doctor last week and she suggested since I suffer from SAD, I should spend at least an hour outside, preferably in the sun, every day. So far, so good. I have cleaned the pool, fixed a damaged section of screen in the pool enclosure, worked on cleaning the lanai, weeded my tiny garden and the natural areas, taken down the outside lights, and cleaned all the French Doors (outside) on the back of the house. Only problem, I am so tired. I think a good idea would be to get my Kindle and go sit in the chaise lounge by the pool and read for an hour every day! My hubby says I clean too much anyway. LOL.

    • If it hadn’t been for Swagbucks, i would have never discovered Achievemint. More good reasons to join. And dogs are terrific for keeping you moving, as is the need to chase after a toddler.

      • I still am on a tear. Cleaned out the garage and Jim and I cut down about fifty cardboard boxes and took them to the recycle center. Closed permanently. But they left the address of another one a few miles away. Pulled out the Garmin and made it there with no problem. Then we had to unload about 100 pounds of flattened boxes. Really getting exercise! Yesterday two friends, Phyllis and I went thrift store shopping. left before 11, back after 4, tons of walking! Finished cleaning the lanai and plan to trim shrubbery the first of the week. Whew, I am tired thinking of it. I even lost a few pounds I didn’t need to lose. Weigh four pounds more than I did in High School. Sigh.

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