With the holiday hustle and bustle requiring so much of your precious time, how can you find opportunities to walk throughout your day to reach your goal of 10,000 steps? There are ways to search out those elusive minutes for movement. They are scattered throughout your morning, afternoon and evening. But with a little ingenuity and thought, these tiny spurts of time can add up to extra steps and more holiday calories burned.
Here are 10 smart, practical and easy tips that can help you stay active during this busy -- and calorie-laden -- time of year:
1. Wear a pedometer. Get a pedometer or add a pedometer app to your mobile phone and use it every day. This inexpensive tool is a terrific motivator. It helps you keep up with exactly how much you are actually moving. Being able to monitor your movement will help you to move even more. Try adding 500 extra steps the next day. This is equivalent to approximately 5 minutes of steady walking.
2. Do your chores on foot: Resist the urge to delegate household tasks which involve walking, such as getting the mail, walking the dog, taking out the trash or simply fetching something from the car. Asking the kids or your spouse to do it might seem quicker and easier sometimes, but it doesn't help your pedometer reach its goal.
3. Decorate with added steps: When putting up and taking down the Christmas tree and other seasonal decorations, leave the box of trinkets and ornaments on the opposite side of the room. Walk to the box for each item, then back to where it will go. All that back and forth really adds up.
4. Cook on the move: While cooking or baking those delectable holiday treats, consider jogging or marching in place while the timer ticks away. An added plus -- this will burn some of the calories you might gain from sampling your products.
5. Park far away when shopping: Not only do you add steps going back and forth, you are saving time not having to search for a space and you will save your car from being bumped by carts or other car doors.
6. Move in the morning. Make sure your exercise time isn't eaten up by daily surprises. Get up a few minutes earlier each day, stretch and take a few deep breaths. Then walk or jog in place, even if only for a few minutes. You'll wake up quickly and log a few hundred steps at the start of your day.
7. Walk through those holiday shows: Forgo the recliner as you watch your favorite holiday TV programs. Move during your movie instead. Pace around your living room while keeping an eye on the screen, or walk or jog in place. Two hours will pass quickly, and that can add up to several thousand steps. Not up for two solid hours of moving? Vow to move the first few minutes of each show and during commercials.
8. Pace on the phone: Pace through the house as you enjoy a chat on the phone. Steps add up when you form this simple habit. This is another example of using hidden minutes. Commit to move during your next telephone calls.
9. Stand through your sit-down tasks: Make it a point to stand as you fold laundry, go through the mail or write out your bills. You'll find you can add many steps to your overall day this way. Then when the laundry needs to be put away and the bills put in the box outside -- don't delegate those duties. Think of them as a few more chances to reach your steps or miles goal for that day.
10. Work to the beat. Turn on some great fast music while you cook, clean or manage other chores. Feel your mood instantly lift and get more movement out of your tasks. Time flies when you are listening to enjoyable music.
A century ago, without all our modern conveniences, a person didn't need to make extra time for exercise. Moving was just a given. Now, however, with all our time-saving contraptions and sedentary jobs, we have to include exercise in our day. It has to become and remain a priority on your own to-do list.
There are hundreds of flexible minutes in our day for extra steps; we only have to look to find them. As you rush around handling all the last-minute details of the holidays, be sure to make time for your health, too, even if it is in small increments. Then as the colder, winter days pass and the bright, new days of spring approach, your fitter, more energetic body will thank you.
Linda K. Beech is Ellis County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences.