The majority of my adult life has been spent sitting at a computer or a desk. As a result, I am not very active. Sure, I go to the gym for an hour and a half four times a week, but six hours really isn’t that much activity. The lion’s share of my time is spent sitting.
However, spending a month in Europe changed all of that. Instead of getting taxis, I walked everywhere. Ironically, I felt better physically. My joints did not hurt, My hips weren’t locked up, and I recovered better from the gym.
I, also, felt better mentally. When I sat down to write or attack a problem my mind was more clear and I didn’t have as much trouble focusing.
Once I got back to the U.S., I knew I wanted to keep my activity level high, but I didn’t know how to add the activity into my life. Let’s face it… Walking ten miles per day is just not feasible when you are trying to make a living, spend time with family, and have hobbies. I needed a plan that was less intrusive and more sustainable. Luckily, I listened to a podcast with Mark Bell where he talks about implementing ten minute walks throughout his day and it planted the seed for my activity plan.
What I do
- I lift four days a week and pace around the edge of the gym during my rest periods.
- I park as far away from stores or meetings as possible, so that I force myself to walk longer distances to get where I am going.
- On off days from the gym, I take a thirty minute walk in the afternoon to end my work day.
- I walk during all phone calls. Sometimes I, literally, just pace in my living room.
What I want to improve
Although my current practice is much better than my pre-travel practice, I still have a long way to go. For instance, after the thirty minute walks on off days I think super clearly and have often thought up good ideas. However, I am already drained from the work day and don’t want to focus on important work. I feel like I am wasting creativity.
As a result, I would like to improve my practice in the following ways:
- On two of my rest days, perform tire flips, sand bag carries, or farmer’s walks. This serves two purposes: 1. I want to add more difficult activity (walking isn’t very difficult). 2. I want to compete in lightweight strongman for my 31st birthday, so I need to start practicing the movements.
- Ten minute walks after my daytime meals. Currently, my daily step goal is 5000 steps. Most days I get those steps simply by walking more during phone calls, afternoon walks, and walking between sets in the gym. However because of the creativity reason mentioned above and Stan Efferding’s Rhino Rant on the Ten Minute Walk, I would like to start taking a ten minute walk after breakfast and lunch.
- Improve my weekend practice. Like most people, I tend to shut down on the weekend. I would like to offset some of my Netflix watching by adding a morning walk or ten minute walks after meals. I don’t want to spend the entire Saturday and/or Sunday on the couch.
How to get started
What I would do if I was starting from scratch
- Set a small step goal like 3000 or 5000 steps and use my iPhone to measure them.
- Work on adding one small physical activity at a time. Start with adding more steps once you get used to hitting your original goal. Then, add a couple of gym workouts a week or something more physical like carries and sledge hammer swings. If weights aren’t your thing, do yoga a couple times a week, take dance classes, go walk in the park, or go walk around the farmer’s market on Saturdays.
Fitting physicality into your day
I worked with a guy who would set a work timer for twenty-five minutes, work his ass off, and then take a five minute walk around the building. I never understood what the fuck he was doing, but I get it now. He was adding physical activity to his day. Almost no employer is going to bitch about someone taking a five minute break to go to the bathroom or get coffee or whatever. He was just making that five minute break work for him by walking.
I like to work in the mornings and do my harder physical activity in the afternoons. When I worked an office job I got to work at 6 a.m., left at 3 p.m, and hit the gym. Now I work roughly the same schedule. I keep busy until around 3 p.m. and, then, do something physical. My mind is off of creative mode by that time and ready to go into mindless, physical mode. It works for me.
Regardless of what you do with your days, you can fit physical activity into them. I realize not everyone is a work from home (I use the term work very loosely), make your own hours douchebag like myself, but you can do something during your work day that is more physical than you are currently doing. Take it from my previous coworker and walk around the building. If that doesn’t work for you, instead of going to the closest bathroom go to one across your company campus or instead of having lunch at your desk walk to a park to eat. Shit, instead of spending the whole lunch period eating, eat quickly and walk for the last five or ten minutes.
The takeaway is two-fold:
- Do whatever works for you and fits your schedule.
- You do not have to do some elaborate daily workout. Small counts.
Things I would Avoid
- Go big or go home. I 100% road this train. I got back and jumped right into 10000 steps a day. For someone, who literally didn’t leave an office all day, that goal was terribly unreasonable. As a result, I never hit the goal. Don’t be me. Start small. You can add more and more activity as time goes on. Make it so easy you can’t fail.
- Logistical nightmares. Adding tire flips makes no sense for someone who works or lives in a big city. Unless, you have access to a gym with a tire and are able to get to it daily without trouble, finding a place to complete the practice is going to be difficult. On the other hand I live in the country with plenty of room and old tractor tires are readily available, so adding tire flips is really not that difficult. Trust me I get it. Some activities are sexy. Throwing tires around, farmer’s carries, car deadlifts, etc. are all super badass, but they aren’t really that practical. Hell, adding a yoga practice would not be practical for me. The closest yoga studio is an hour away, so unless I want to teach myself (not going to happen) vowing to do yoga would be setting myself up for failure. The Point: Choose activities that you can fit seamlessly into your day. Do not make this harder than it needs to be. Walking is always a good place to start.
Regardless of your physical fitness level, your interests, or limitations, You need to move in some way, shape, or form. Face it… Your health and life depends upon it.
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