Working from home, it’s so easy to fall into sedentary lifestyle habits. It isn’t much better for those who sit at a desk job all day. If exercise was easy (or as awesome as fitness types make it out to be), we’d all be running our little hearts out.
The Facts are Harsh
Most of us don’t run or any other kind of daily activity (statistics prove that) and that’s because exercise kind of sucks.
Almost 70% of American adults (and 15% of young people) are considered overweight or obese. The standard diet of households in the United States consists of quick and easy foods that are packed with sugar, salt, and chemicals we can’t pronounce.
We have epidemics of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer like never before in human history. Finding ways to work in movement – even minimal amounts – every day is critical to keeping your body (and mine) functioning properly and lowering your risk of disease.We have epidemics of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer like never before. #beatingsedentarylifeClick To Tweet
Knowing this information doesn’t change how the majority of us live and it doesn’t make establishing a healthier lifestyle any easier.
Sedentary lifestyle habits sneak up slowly.
Maybe you sit all day where you work. Even though you’re not moving around physically, your brain is in high production mode. You’re too tired to go anywhere (or it’s too hot) and you just want to relax.
Modern relaxation usually entails more sitting.
In front of the television, at the movies, or on your phone, tablet, or computer (again). When I was a kid, there wasn’t much on television. Everything to do was outside. There are so many awesome options now to occupy your mind and entertain yourself without leaving conditioned air and close proximity to the refrigerator.
People who are older, in poor health, or overweight find it even harder to get up and get moving. Parents with small kids are already sleep-deprived and at their wit’s end so inspiration to work out is in short supply.
We have to be honest about something else here…sometimes, we’re just lazy. It’s easy to get the food we want, chill in our living rooms, and binge-watch an entire season of a new show on one of many streaming services.
That’s how the sedentary lifestyle exploded! Technology and delivery!
After working, I have little (to no) motivation to work out. As an entrepreneur, I work a stupid number of hours and I don’t want to give any of my (almost non-existent) downtime to an exercise regimen. Just, yuck.
I know, I know…this isn’t something people are supposed to admit but just because we don’t say it doesn’t mean we’re not thinking it.
Now, there are those people (we all know at least one) who love to work out. They talk about post-workout glow and sweat therapy.
My mind wanders the second they say, “At the gym today…”
When it comes to exercise, I’m literally the worst. I hate it and will find just about any excuse not to do it. I know a lot of people are just like me so let’s cheat our way through this together.
Cheats for People Who Hate Exercise (and Other Healthy Habits)
Beating a sedentary lifestyle isn’t easy. The easy path is doing exactly what we’re already doing. Unfortunately, that also means we age a little quicker and get gradually sicker every year.
If it hasn’t caught up with you yet, there’s still time to turn this thing around. If it has, you can absolutely change a few simple things to alter how you feel in the next year.
A few tweaks to your daily life can manage symptoms and give you results. They won’t be Biggest Loser kinds of results but you’ll see and feel them.
So, how do we cheat our way through it?
These are my personal cheats, that I use (almost) every day to try to keep myself in some semblance of working order. They’re not what nutritionists or personal trainers will tell you because the “right way” is to ditch all the bad stuff, exercise for 30 minutes at least 3-5 days a week, and eat clean.
I’m not going to do that and I bet there are a lot of you out there who aren’t going to do that either. It’s what’s “healthy” but it isn’t necessarily “realistic.”
If you’re working your way out of a sedentary lifestyle, honesty is the key.
CHEAT #1: Stretch.
This is something really easy that you can do in your bed before you get up, in the bathroom before your shower, or while sitting at your desk (or on your sofa). In the next couple of decades, people are going to tighten up like never before from staring at screens of one sort or another all day.
Stretching helps your bones, joints, and blood flow. It gets your lymph system moving, which boosts your overall immune system. It wakes you up if you’re feeling sluggish and gets much-needed oxygen to your brain if you need to focus.Stretching helps your bones, joints, and blood flow. Take time to focus on your physical needs.Click To Tweet
Move slowly, hold motions for at least three seconds, and try to do it at least a couple of times every single day. Stretching should never cause actual pain. If it does, you need to scale it back and work your way to deeper positions.
The difference between stretching and regular exercise is that you can do it while watching or listening to something else. That’s a big thing for our multi-tasking generation. It’s no impact so you’re not going to feel like you’ve run a mile when you’re done.
Once you make this a strong (daily) habit, consider finding a few 10-15 minute videos for tai chi that you can do before you start your day. It’s nicknamed “meditation in motion” because it’s low-impact, relaxing, and excellent for building core strength, balance, and coordination.
CHEAT #2: Scale back one thing.
We all have something we love and indulge in a little too much. For some, it’s wine and for others, it’s pastries. Maybe for you, it’s soda or energy drinks or smoking or fries.
You fell into a sedentary lifestyle slowly, even accidentally. If you’ve been sort of still for a while (it’s been a few years for me), there may be some things you’ve starting eating or doing that are working against your health.
Unlike most people, I’m not going to tell you to give up everything. I strongly believe that’s setting you up to fail. I do think you can incorporate a step-down method. Where you still get that one thing you love…just a little less.
Let’s use soda as an example. Say you drink three sodas a day (the average for those truly addicted to it). Scale it back by one soda for three weeks. Now you’re regularly drinking two per day. See if you can’t scale it back yet again for three weeks. Now you’re down to one soda per day. If you’re really committed (but love soda), pick a couple of days a week that you don’t drink it.
This method works far better than going “cold turkey” and you’re more likely to stick with it. You can apply it to eating habits, alcohol consumption, smoking, and even how much television you watch or hours spent on social media.
If you have multiple weak spots, pick one at a time to work on. Do it for at least three weeks to help your body (and mind) form the habit. Then pick another one.If you have multiple health weak spots, pick one at a time to work on. This is not a competition.Click To Tweet
CHEAT #3: Try intermittent fasting.
This one can be a little confusing but stay with me because this is a great thing for those of us living a sedentary lifestyle. You already “fast” daily (while you’re sleeping). Intermittent fasting is simply stretching out those hours each day. Nothing crazy!
To create energy, your body burns glucose from the food you eat during the day. Once it uses up all the food fuel, it switches to burning stored fat. It takes several hours for your body to use up the glucose. Experts estimate that the majority of American adults are sleep-deprived, getting an average of 6 hours of sleep per night (which means there are a lot of people getting less).
If you snack late, sleep too little, and then grab a bite to eat within an hour of waking…your body probably never gets to the fat-burning state. You’re giving it constant food fuel so it never needs to tap into fat storage.
Intermittent fasting is blocking a specific number of hours where you don’t have any caloric intake. A good place to start is 10 hours but your goal would be to get yourself to 12 hours of fasting. It’s easier than you think once you get used to it.
I do 8pm until 8am the next morning. After 8pm, I don’t eat anything or drink anything with calories. Maybe 9-to-9 is better for you. It’s all about working around how you already eat to give your body a full 10-12 hours of zero caloric intake so your body hits that fat storage every night while you sleep. That’s when your tissues are repaired and memories are stored. Things are already happening. Let your body accomplish its tasks with a fuel source you already have (and don’t want).
A Few Words of Encouragement
Transitioning from a sedentary lifestyle can be difficult but not if you take it slow, gradually limiting your bad habits and taking on some good ones.
One thing at a time, nothing extreme, and once you accomplish your “cheat starter pack” – consider adding a few other things (also one at a time). Getting more sleep, drinking more water (even infused), and even adding a green smoothie to your morning to up your veggie intake.One thing at a time, nothing extreme, accomplish goals at your own pace. #sedentarylifestyletipsClick To Tweet
You can do this. It’s not a competition and it’s not about comparing yourself to models in magazines. It’s taking small steps to improve your life today and your health for decades.
Shayne McClendon is an author and positivity practitioner. Shayne believes love crosses all boundaries, social castes, races, genders, and belief systems. If you are lucky enough to find soul-deep love, you should fight for it. Life-certified, reader approved.