Choosing the more active path rather than the sedentary one is a guiding principle for living a long and healthy life. Forgive my bluntness, but there’s a reason you don’t see a lot of really old people who are fat. They’re all dead.
Building activity into your everyday life is a mindset. It makes you more cognizant of your physical body, which is part of that wonderful self-reinforcing virtuous cycle. And I’m just an obstinate old broad who believes that, “if I can move, I will move!”
To get you started I’ve compiled a list of suggestions for being active during ordinary, everyday activities:
- Avoid elevators at all costs (short of five stories; over that you’re good to ride).
- Take the stairs!
- Along those same lines walk, do not ride, up and down escalators! There will be people standing in front of you. I hereby grant you permission to use my favorite line: “On your left!” They’ll move over and they’ll get the message loud and clear that it’s perfectly acceptable to walk up and down escalators.
- Park at the farthest end of the parking lot from where you’re going (disclosure of major pet peeve: ever see those people circling around the parking lot at the gym to get the closest parking space to the door? Sheesh.)
- Carry your bags out of the store if you have 4 bags or fewer rather than push them out in a cart. Biceps baby!
- Ride your bike to and from the grocery store if you need only a few things that can fit in a backpack.
- Walk between errands that are a short distance from each other rather than moving your car from place to place.
- Meet a friend for an exercise class rather than for lunch or drinks. Make it social, plus build in accountability!
- Get a big bouncy ball to sit on while at the computer to engage your core muscles.
- Rake leaves in the fall, shovel snow in the winter and buy a push mower for the spring and summer. (Okay, that one’s arguably better exercise for your teenager since s/he’s the one who should be mowing the lawn.)
The more you move your body the longer you will be able to move it, with fewer aches and pains. These kinds of everyday movements support muscle and skeletal functionality and strength. A great deal of the frailty we accept as a normal part of aging is really a failure to keep moving regularly.
Like making healthy food choices, choosing to move your body at every opportunity will have to be a conscious effort initially, but soon you will moving past people on the escalator and wondering why in heaven’s name they’re just standing there.
Are you going to burn a significant number of calories taking the stairs up from the parking garage to your designated floor? No, and it doesn’t take the place of a workout.
It’s the principle of the thing though. And it’s cumulative. All of those choices combined, over the length of your life, will mean that you can still take the stairs while your peers are less able to do so.
Sure, losing weight and being active is hard. But it gets easier and eventually you won’t even notice that people glare at you as you ask them to move over on escalators. Plus, you’re so damn worth it!
Let’s go get it!