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18 Ways to Move More

Experts say that sitting is the new smoking. Here are incredibly easy ways fit in more activity without a trip to the gym.

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Consider the fact that most of us are awake for about 18 hours a day. Now think about how much of that time you spend moving (from working out to just walking) versus sitting or lying down. Getting a little too cozy with your couch has health consequences.

“Researchers agree that sitting is the new smoking. A study last year of nearly 6,000 Americans found that about 1 in 4 of them spend more than 8 hours sitting,” notes Lynya Floyd, a board-certified health and wellness coach who specializes in integrative health coaching. “Combine that with how much sleep we’re getting and you can see there’s an inactivity crisis.”

Does that mean you should be a perpetual motion machine? Girl, no. But you can find ways to sneak some type of movement into just about every one of those 18 hours. Read on for tips on how.

1. Do calf raises while brushing your teeth. Place your feet flat on the floor, then rise up onto the balls of your feet, hold for two seconds, then sink down. Repeat 20, 30, 50 or more times. You can also do this while washing dishes or standing in line.

2. Opt for public transportation. The extra walking it requires, including stairs, can make a big difference. In fact, commuters in Charlotte, North Carolina, who gave up driving and started taking a new light-rail system, lost more than 6 pounds in 18 months.

3. Work out in the morning. You’ll be less likely to let a busy day give you an excuse to skip exercise. I give myself a head start by laying out all my workout clothes, down to the socks, at the foot of my bed the night before a 6:30 a.m. Pilates class.

3. Get up from your chair once every 20 to 30 minutes. Set an alert on your phone to remind you. Experts recommend standing for at least 2 hours during the work day. Use that time to stretch or take or make phone calls while on your feet.

4. Take dance breaks. Whether you bump Lizzo, Beyoncé or declare a #throwbackturnup and put on some old school hip-hop, cut a rug for the length of one song a couple of times a day.

5. Skip the shopping cart and use the handbasket at the grocery store. You’ll work your biceps holding the basket and your glutes, hamstrings and quads when you squat to place it down on the ground as you shop.

6. Visit a restroom some distance from your office. Taking the stairs to the restroom on another floor is even better.

7. Take Rex out for an extra-long walk. Don’t have a pooch? Offer to take a friend’s pup to the dog park.

8. At work, set the printer or copier furthest away from your desk as your default printer so that you’ll get more steps in throughout the day.

9. Don’t just meet up with your girls for brunch or dinner. Plan your catchups around less sedentary activities like a visit to a museum, gallery or a park.

10. Skip using Slack or email to message colleagues. Work that shoe leather and walk over to talk to them directly.

11. Make the most of your TV time. Put your treadmill or stationary bike in front of the television and walk, jog or pedal as you catch up on Empire and throw in the occasional wall squat during commercial breaks.

12. Track your steps on your watch, phone or fitness tracker. A bad knee forced my 78-year-old mother to walk with a cane, but she still makes sure she does at least 20 laps through the house every day. Many experts recommend taking 10,000 steps a day. Health coach Floyd admits, “I've found myself walking around a block a second time at the end of the night just to hit my step goal for the day.”

13. Shop at a brick-and-mortar store. Online shopping is a true timesaver. But let’s be real … you can do it while in bed. Instead of flexing your Prime membership, flex some leg muscles.

14. Don’t just sit there. While you’re checking social media, working on a needlecraft project or reading a book, straighten your legs out in front of you and lift them as high as you can off the floor. Tighten your stomach muscles at the same time.

15. Skip the drive-through. Instead, park your car and walk inside to order.

16. Make your wait time worthwhile by doing some stretches. Start with a toe touch, then raise your arms above your head and then out to the sides to form a “T” while you wait for your food in the microwave. Or try leaning against the wall or on the counter and doing pushups.

17. Take the party outside. My husband’s family has a tradition of taking a long walk after a big meal. Christmas dinner, a birthday celebration or a family gathering always includes ample ambling time around the neighborhood.

18. Scratch that chore off your list. Handling a housework or yardwork task will have you feeling energized and accomplished.