Looking for simple ways to take more steps in during the day? Most of us have the intention to exercise, but have trouble finding the time, not to mention the energy, to sneak it into our busy and hectic days. Whether it’s work, social commitments or a houseful of kiddos that’s demanding your attention and sidetracking you from your fitness goals, you’re in good company. We all want to be able to do it all: have a successful and booming career, an active family life, a well-structured fitness plan all with enough time to enjoy hobbies and leisurely activities.
Unfortunately “doing it all” proves to be a stumbling block in many people’s path to health and fitness, notes Caleb Backe, CPT, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. “The fact is, we all have 24 hours in the day, and many of us have busy schedules, which invariably means that exercise will have to replace some other activity,” he says.
But while we’re so narrowly focused on fitting in time to get to the gym, few of us realize that there are plenty of other ways to take more steps —even throughout our regular day-to-day. In fact, anything that raises your heart rate counts as a form of exercise and will stack on steps so you can reach your targeted goal. Plus, when it’s less of a commitment, it’s less intimidating. “Since many people have been working at home during Covid-19, there are more classes online than ever which you could watch from the living room to give you motivation,” says Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS, Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales Pennsylvania.
Looking for ways to incorporate exercise and take more steps during your daily routine without feeling like you have to designate a significant amount of time and energy towards it? Here, fitness experts share their best strategies for sneaking more steps into your day.
Park your car as far away from your destination as possible
If you can factor in a little extra time to get to your destination, consider parking as far away as possible so that you can take more steps. Tara Allen, R.N., registered nurse and a certified health and nutrition coach, even suggests making it a game to find the furthest available spot. “When we gamify things in this way, it helps make them more fun as we’re working on building a new habit,” she says.
Take your meetings on the go
If your office allows it, consider taking your next in-person meeting on the go—just head right outside the office and take a nice walk. Chances are, the person you’re having the meeting with would prefer this kind of meeting over sitting in a stale office room. “This works well if you will not be needing to take notes during the meeting and can add up to several long and short walks, depending on your schedule,” says Allen.
If your meeting is on the phone, you can do the same. “You would be surprised how far you can walk during a 30 minute phone call, which otherwise would be spent sitting down. You can walk during your lunch break,” says Jordan Duncan, D.C., a chiropractor at Silverdale Sport & Spine in Silverdale, Washington. “Walking, especially outdoors, is an excellent way to energize and refresh for the second half of the work day and is also a great opportunity to exercise before or after you eat.”
Walk while doing everyday chores
Completing daily chores that you would regularly do in one place can be adjusted to optimize the number of steps you take, notes Stephanie Mansour, a Chicago-based weight loss coach and corporate wellness trainer. “It can be as simple as brushing your teeth: just walk around while you do it!” she says. “Once you get in this mindset, you’ll be on your feet more everyday and can also incorporate this into your errands.”
Throw a dance party
This doesn’t have to be a formal event. Simply making it a point to put on a favorite song and dance each time you go to make dinner, or breakfast or start laundry can seriously add steps, notes Allen. “This will have you take more steps, increase your heart rate a bit, and elevate your mood and energy at the same time,” she says.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator
Elevators and escalators are great, but if you can afford to do it, Backe recommends walking to your destination—even (and especially) if it means climbing several flights of stairs. “Taking the stairs is great exercise, and it’s something that is achievable potentially every single day,” he says. “Even if your destination is higher up, you can at least walk part of the way before opting for the quicker way.”
Once your day gets started, it can be easy to let exercise fall to the wayside. A great way to make sure you don’t forget to take more steps is to set a reminder on your computer or smartphone. “Obviously, going outside is great, but you can do this indoors if you’re pressed for time,” says Backe. “Pace around the room before going back to what you were doing.” On a call? He suggests walking around as you listen and talk.
One of the best tricks of the trade for making sure you live up to your exercise goals, whatever they may be, is to tell someone your new commitment and ask them to check up on you. “Maybe have a friend send you a text when you are supposed to be exercising, giving you a high five and encouraging you to go get it done,” says Rachel Welch, certified health coach, yoga instructor, and founder of the post-natal fitness method Revolution Motherhood. “If you have a partner, see if they will work out with you so that you have a buddy who is there in real time holding you accountable and helping to ignite your motivation.”
Pick workouts you love
You know those workouts you think you “should do,” but you don’t really enjoy doing? Don’t do them! “Movement needs to feed your soul as much as your body, so ask yourself what you love to do, whether it’s rock climbing, running, yoga, pilates or dancing,” says Welch. “If you don’t know, try a few and see what inspires you to learn and grow more.”