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The Other 23+ Hours: What to Do When You’re Not Exercising

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The muscle workouts I develop for my clients and in my book generally take only about 15 minutes a day. But that doesn’t mean I’m giving you permission to sit on your butt for the rest of the day.

To see the best results—and to see them happen fast—you need to get in the habit of including daily behaviors that add up to at least an hour of moderate-intensity activity. This doesn’t have to be exercise in the formal sense, but if you enjoy doing aerobics, running, swimming, biking, hiking, tennis, and so on, fantastic! Otherwise, you can find tons of ways to move your body for at least sixty minutes a day.

The Key: Just Sit Less

There are tons of ways to do this, and all of them reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Be on the alert for any time you can get moving. Ideally you should get in 10,000 steps a day. If you’d like to see how you are doing, pick up a pedometer to track your steps or use an app that will do so on your smart phone. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Be a pacer. Whenever your phone rings or you make a call, get up and move. Even if you are just walking back and forth in your office or your kitchen, you’ll more than double the calories you’d burn while sitting in your chair.
  • Make appointments to move. Ask colleagues if they’d consider having a moving meeting. This is especially creative if you tend to work at your desk during lunch. Lace up and stroll while you talk strategy. If you think your boss might be hesitant, point out that moving meetings have the benefit of increasing circulation to brain neural pathways, which increases mental acuity and makes you more productive overall.
  • Walk your errands whenever possible. Take an extra-long stroll to the post office. Just need a few items from the grocery store? Strap on a backpack and hit the pavement—or, better yet, get a basket or saddlebags for your bike and go on bigger trips, too.
  • Always choose the farthest parking spot.
  • Never use the elevator.
  • Move once an hour. The human brain cannot concentrate for more than 45 or 55 minutes, so take advantage and stretch or stroll once an hour. Get up and drink a glass of water, walk to the farthest restroom, or go talk to a co­worker or walk around the block instead of sending an e­mail or checking your social media account.
  • Create active family time. Instead of watching a movie, take an after­dinner stroll. Walk the dog together, go for weekend family bike rides, play Frisbee or catch.
  • Whenever your computer spins its wheel or goes to its screensaver, or if your foot falls asleep, use it as your cue to walk into the other room and have a glass of water.

Click here to buy Joel Harper’s book, Mind Your Body: 4 Weeks to a Leaner, Healthier Life.

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