Question of the Day: Help! How Do I Get Myself Off the Couch?

How to Get More Active NOW!

Vibrant woman of an advanced age getting it done (or modeling an aerobic workout) Photo by RODNAE Productions on

You want to “get active,” but work, kids, lack of motivation, partners, Netflix, stress, boredom, anxiety, anger, frustration, insecurity, late-stage capitalism, are all actively inviting you to give your attention to them. How do you break free of “all that” and peel yourself off the couch? Has the phrase “Just Do It!” worked for you in the past? Or do you need to hear it one more time to finally motivate you?

You’ve probably seen the list below or something like it before, but I hope you’ll stay for the little twist at the end.

Ways to “get active”

If you’re someone who would respond better to exercise or increased physical activity if it essentially snuck up on you, this article is for you!

Instead of thinking of exercise as being this big thing you need to schedule into your day for one or two hours–or even a solid half hour block–what if it was a minute or two here and there? You think that doesn’t count? (It does!!)

Here are some ideas:

  • If your modus operandi is to find rock-star parking in every lot, stop doing that! Park further away and walk.
  • First in line for the elevator? If it’s just a couple floors, take the stairs if you can.
  • Stand when you take calls. (Standing doing office work burns around 1.5 times as many calories as sitting doing office work. For a 160 lb. person, it’s estimated that standing burns 166 calories while sitting burns 108 calories.)
  • If you’re back at the office–or at home–walk to the person you need to talk to rather than messaging, emailing, texting, or shouting.
  • A gallon of almond milk weighs over eight pounds–do a few bicep curls before putting it back in the fridge (it obviously weighs less after you’ve poured yourself a cup…).
  • (Safely) lift the canned corn over head before putting it away in the pantry.
  • Do some calf raises and mix in some squats while doing the dishes.
  • Get a few ab crunches in before you get out of bed in the morning or when you first turn in at night.

If you’re into it, you can use the handy calculator at this link or another one here to find the calorie burn for different activities for a “typical” person at a certain body weight. You might be surprised–or disappointed–at what you’ll find (overhead press with a can of corn or bicep curls with a milk jug are not included, but housework nets me about 217 calories per hour!)

In addition to the above so-called N.E.A.T. activities (non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or common daily activities that expend energy and can be implemented during work and leisure time), a 10-minute walk is better than no walk. If you get started on a 10-minute walk, chances are excellent that you might decide to go a little longer–and that becomes better than the 10-minute walk.

You NEED to get away from your desk or kitchen table or couch anyway. Next time you need to take a pee break, follow it with a timed walk around the yard or office or wherever you are.

Start tracking your steps if you aren’t already. Try to increase your step average by 10% each week. Or just pick a minimum you don’t want to go below, then march in place if you’re short for the day or do some house work until you reach your goal (win-win with a clean house and a reached step goal!).

If you’ve been sedentary for long, start small–maybe even as small as you can think of! (Yep, the twist. And consider it a challenge!) You will very likely become more aware of what you do and start to desire more activity and less “efficiency.” Moving your body will start to feel better and better.

Mix and match some of the above suggestions or come up with your own! Building in a little more activity on a day-to-day basis can eventually result in a big pay off.

Takeaway: You may never be a gym rat, and that is absolutely fine! But do spend some time deciding what it is you want your body to do for you and in what ways your body likes to move.

If your body is not performing how you want it to, what small step can you take today to get it moving in that direction? What small step could you take today, repeat tomorrow and the next and the next? Does this spur anything in you? Let me know!!

And go well!

The resources and information shared here are solely for informational purposes and aren’t intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition or disease or provide any professional advice. Discuss any changes in your activity and eating patterns with your primary care physician prior to pursuing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: