I woke up this morning to an email about a resent study out of Ball University and the benefits of walking. Just a nice little reminder that every little bit counts, and just 21 minutes a day, every day, can make a big difference. Which is why I’ve included it as the 4th Universal Diet Truth in my Clean & Colorful Concept.
I know we know this, but it’s still a good reminder. Taking a walk improves your health, gets your blood flowing, wakes you up and and can improve your mood. Alex Montoye, a clinical exercise physiology professor in Ball State University’s Human Performance Laboratory says lacing up your athletic shoes for a 30-minute walk is a great way to be active and reduce sedentary behavior. Thirty minutes of activity a day is good, more is better and 21 is a good start!
This study found that Americans typically spend 64 percent of their waking hours in a sedentary position.
The faculty analyzed data from about 300 adults, ages 19-90, who participated in Ball State’s clinical exercise physiology program’s research during the last several years. Electronic measuring devices strapped to participants’ hips tracked their movements 24 hours a day for a week. To be honest, I’m surprised to hear that most of us are active 36% of our waking hours, but that’s beside the point here.
As an avid runner, a marathoner for the most part, I’m conditioned to block hours of time on my calendar for exercise. I’ve done it for decades. As time ticks by, the thought of running for hours at a time is not quite as appealing as it was even this time last year. To keep myself from turning into a giant blob, it’s time to shift my focus to the smaller things. The little things that add up to big things in the end.
Here are my 10 tips to get in 21 min of walking EVERY-SINGLE-DAY:
- No more excuses. “I don’t have enough time” is not a reasonable excuse. Remember, it does not need to be a block of 21 minutes at one time, it just needs to be 21 (or more) minutes total for the day. Can you find 7 minutes 3 times a day? Or the other way around?
- Get an early start. Do it first thing in the morning. Roll out of bed and directly into your sneakers and go around the block.
- Know your numbers. Get a Fitbit, or other wearable activity tracking device. Knowing how many steps you’re getting in for real is highly motivating and a great way to understand how it adds up overtime.
- Find a walking buddy. It’s way easier to hit the snooze button or keep scrolling through your FaceBook feed when nobody is waiting. Accountability is key.
- Build a routine. Make it a habit. “Monday – Friday, I walk 21 minutes at lunch with Jenny.” Make it easy-peasy and will become autopilot for you.
- Multitask. Are you evening TV watcher? Grab your headset and head to the gym. Why not watch just one of those shows on a treadmill, walking at an easy pace?
- Skip the send button. Are you an office worker? Limit your inner-office-email and walk the message to the recipient and deliver it with your mouth instead of the all too common type-click-send method.
- Leave your car keys on the table. Remember, your feet are a viable source of transportation. If you’re headed for a coffee break or to run a few errands, can you walk instead of drive?
- Leave something somewhere. If you’re on a quick walk, leave something at your turnaround point so you have to go back and get it later. Ha!
- Adopt a dog. It’s a fact, research shows that people who own dogs walk more than those who don’t. I mean who can’t get up off the couch when Buddy is staring you in the face with those giant brown eyes? Plus, he legitimately needs to pee 😉
Teresa Marie Howes, BS, CPT, HHP