Improving health is one of the most important goals that you may have on your agenda. One of the easiest ways to improve your general health, however, is as simple as making sure you spend more time walking during your workdays.
Walking in general helps you:
- Reduce stress, cheer up and increase your self-esteem
- Lose weight and energize
- Lower blood pressure
- Sleep better
- Reduce the amount of snacks you eat
Time to read
Time to read: 7 minutes (based on 150 wpm)
Improving health through walking
A typical person working on a desk and driving to work and back will do somewhere between 1,000 and 3,000 steps a day. This means less than 150 calories burnt. Sitting on your desk the whole time may lead to a bunch of problems like back pain, neck pain, high blood pressure, obesity and so on.
Your bodies are not made to be static. Humans have been hunters and gatherers for thousands of years. Your body needs that exercise in order to function properly. Stress was designed to provide you with enough chemicals to run away from the animal chasing you. Today you accumulate stress while working and you need to exercise in order to alleviate it. Running and walking reduce those hormones and chemicals your body makes as a response to stress. Improving health is dependent on those activities.
How can you incorporate walking in your stressful day?
Your day is enough stressful as it is, without adding extra activities throughout it. But there is plenty that you can do to allocate time for walking.
1. Get a pedometer
The first order of business is to measure how much steps you are doing. If you cannot measure it, improving health would be extremely difficult. There are many cheap pedometers our there, but in the worst case your smart phone should also do the job if you keep it in your pocket.
You can also set goals and get achievements when you reach your goals. That would trigger your fun/game associations. Most pedometers have helper application offering achievements.
2. The 8-loop at home
I invented this technique 2 years ago. I am married, I have a baby boy aged 2 and I drive 1:30 hours to work, where I sit 8 hours in front of my monitor. On a bad, stressful day I can have as low as 1.500 steps.
Basically you wake up 20-30 minutes earlier than usual, or before everybody else. You do your regular exercises and then you start walking fast around the furniture at home in loops. If you are not making regular morning exercises at least stretch a little to prevent injury.
What could help make the whole thing funnier:
- Imagine that your flat is a giant 0.
- Then put two pieces of furniture in order to make it a giant 8.
- Start walking clockwise (along the 0) slowly and increase the pace as you go.
- Count! Count each step in your head to prevent your mind drifting to everyday problems or tasks (there is enough time for that at work)
- After 200 steps (or less) reverse the direction (along the 8) to counter-clockwise and repeat that at every 200 steps
- Keep your hands busy with counting:
- After 100 steps stretch the thumb on your right hand
- Start counting again at 1
- After 100 steps more (200 in total) stretch the point finger
- Again start counting at 1
- After 500 total stretch the thumb on your left hand (to signal the countdown for the other 500 steps)
- After 600 total retract the last finger you stretched on your right hand
- Go on
- After you retract the thumb on your right hand, you have reached 1,000 and you can start again from zero
- Remember to swap clockwise and counter-clockwise every 200 steps
In under 20 minutes you should have made an extra 3,000 steps.
The best way to do this is without interruptions but if you struggle for time you can do your general morning chores while “walking fast”.
3. Divide the steps you want to make in three parts
Using the most famous strategy “divide and conquer”, you can divide the 10.000 steps into one 4.000 and two 3.000-s. Do the first 4.000 at home using the technique above. Try to do 3.000 before or after lunch. Target the last batch after dinner, or on your way home.
4. Do extra stuff you would not normally do
You can squeeze a few hundred (hopefully more) extra steps if you follow these simple rules:
- Pick the furthers toilet in the office to go to
- Go off the bus/train 1 stop before and walk the remaining distance
- Park your car away from the office and then walk
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator
- Walk on your lunch break, even if you brought food from home
- Take your phone calls while walking around the office (or an empty conference room)
- Circle through the whole shop while doing the groceries (but avoid buying extra stuff)
5. Set reminders
In order not to forget your goals, set a reminder. Most smart phones already have reminders that can trigger when you arrive at a place after specific time. A simple note on your monitor with a sticky can also do the trick.
6. Don’t rush it
Do not try to move from 2.000 to 8.000 steps a day in just one day. First you could measure your usual day for a week and find out where you are at the moment. Then set a realistic goal and try to follow it for another week. If you constantly achieve your goal – increase it but stay realistic.
7. Make walking a habit
Designate special time intervals during the day and try to stick to it. Review your daily routine and find the times of the day where you are least busy – these are good times for a walk. Find the times when you feel stressed the most – just before those in another good time for a walk.
If you are not good at committing to new habits limit the new habits to one. Otherwise you would fail in all of them.
In order to survive and be happy in today’s busy world, you need every little trick in the books. Doing more exercise can have tremendous benefits for your everyday life. It can help you fight the modern office discomforts like stiff neck, back pains, obesity and so on.
One of the best exercises for improving health known to men is walking. It helps reduce stress, feel fit and happy and it energizes you. Walking enough and on a regular basis can have a huge impact on the quality of your life.
What are the next steps?
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