I've given some thought to habit change around building some gentle active time in my regular day. I don't really feel the need to feed my inclination toward challenging exercise (I think it would defeat my ability to have the energy for quality workouts when I need them) but rather I'd like to build in time when I'm moving gently more often.
For most of us, our day to day lives are largely sedentary. We work in offices, watch TV, use computers and stare at our mobile devices. Some people have very active jobs which likely eliminate their need to add unfocused physical movement. It would seem logical though that extended periods of sitting and sedentary activity are not completely counteracted by brief periods of high intensity exercise. We need to periodically stand, move and stretch to create a life of health. This has led me to consider how we might (and how I might) build in a regular habit of change for myself that would have me moving often throughout my day, even when I'm pressed for time and have a lot of sedentary work to get through in a day.
I've done two things recently to help me toward this goal, it's possible they may help you. I'm also about to add one more ninja-like environmental change to help my build an environment that encourages regular movement. Remember the goal isn't to exercise, it's simply to get up and move. For me that means at least once an hour to stand and move for even a short period of time.
- I've put a reminder on my computers using an app (you can find multiple apps that do this on your phone, tablet and computer) that chimes once per hour and reminds me to move. When it chimes I finish what I'm doing (as I worry I'll forget, yes I'm that forgetful) if needed and simply stand, get a glass of water, maybe stretch or if I have time go for a walk. Sometimes if I'm working at home I'll use the reminder to do a simple chore like take out the garbage, wash a few dishes or clean the mirrors or windows in the house (hey why not get a few things done as a bonus?). Furthermore I have my Jawbone UP3 set to vibrate once per hour to remind me to move around. The moving is typically around 5 minutes do doesn't really damage my ability to be productive. I confess sometimes I ignore it as well particularly when I'm feeling under pressure for some deadline. I have noticed a general change of habit though and rather than 8 hour marathon editing stints in front of my iMac where I finish feeling stiff and miserable I often finish my day in a much better frame of mind and physical happiness.
- I brought a camera to work (weird right, I don't always have a camera on hand?). I just recently decided that although I enjoy taking a short walk each day (normally after lunch) I don't really have a reason to do so. Occasionally I walk to the used bookstore close by and browse, or just walk to get food but for the most part I spend my lunch hour surfing social media. I do however very much enjoy walking around with a small camera taking random photos. To be honest most of the photos don't turn out that amazing, and sometimes I never take the camera off my shoulder. That's not really the point. The fact is if I have a camera on hand I have an excuse to head out on a walk. I'm motivated by something I enjoy. Maybe for you walking to a local shop, or library or simply a favorite park is motivation enough. Whatever it is, having a simple activity on hand that you find enjoyable will be much more likely to get you out of the door.
I have plans for one more change that I think will be helpful, though I suspect it is more oriented toward my typical fitness goals. I plan to have fitness tools on hand in my office for quick and short periods of use. For example I'm considering installing a pull up bar in my doorway, having my yoga therapy balls or foam roller on hand or even a small dumbbell. I figure when my computer chimes to tell me to get up off my chair (btw at the photography studio I've installed a standing desk, it's my home office where I sit traditionally) I can simply stand, do 10 pull-ups and get back to work. Over time this accomplishes both my need to move more and will accumulate toward a much larger amount of pull ups than I'd do in my 3 weekly gym sessions which should actually improve fitness with very little impact on my body.
Paying attention to regularly moving around throughout the day is a huge goal for me. I'd love to hear how others build it into their days, particularly given that most of us have jobs and entertainment habits that require long bouts of sitting down.