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"Dozen Ways to Add Physical Activity to Your Daily Routine"
byline: Denise Austin
 

Keeping up with your exercise sessions — a walk, a bike ride, a strength-training workout— goes a long way toward burning calories and making you feel fit. But don’t forget the importance of working more physical activity into your daily routine. One easy way to remind yourself is to think about every little step you take. This helps keep your body burning calories all day long. If you’re sitting all day, your body isn’t burning the calories it wants to and sitting is the fastest way to gain weight —except for lying down. I’m a big believer in doing easy activities without getting sweaty. Short bursts of activity like that can really add up —which is what you want when you’re trying to lose weight. Here are some tips on stepping your activity up a notch:

1. Dance your dinner off. Whether you’re out on a Saturday night or staying at home, turn on your favorite tunes. The beat will keep you moving your feet, not to mention burn off some extra calories.

2. Stand up every hour on the hour and stretch your arms overhead. It opens your chest and brings oxygen into your lungs. It’s great for circulation and enhancing your energy level.

3. Take the stairs instead of elevators. In addition to burning more calories, you'll save time — one study showed that waiting to ride an elevator takes twenty seconds longer than climbing up one flight of stairs. Today, see if you can take the stairs at least once when you normally wouldn't. Then tomorrow, do it twice. In no time, you'll be a stair master! If you need to go up several flights and can't climb them all, try a combination of the stairs and the elevator.

4. Walk up the escalator rather than just riding along. You’ll burn calories and get to where you’re going in no time.

5. Decrease your dependency on your car and see how many errands you can run (or how much commuting you can do) by bike. Biking is fantastic exercise because it helps tone your legs and gives you a great cardio, fat blasting workout.

6. If you live in a house with more than one level, bring things up stairs or down stairs as needed rather than letting a pile gather and then doing so.

7. If you're blessed with the gift of gab — as I am! —use that time to your fitness advantage. Instead of sitting on the couch or in a chair, pace back and forth.

8. Try this wall squat next time you’re chatting on the phone. Stand up and lean your back lightly against a wall, making sure to press your spine flat. Then, as if you are sitting down in a chair, slowly lower your body along the wall until your knees are bent to at least a 45-degree angle (but don't go lower than 90 degrees). Hold the position for as long as you can. Start with twenty seconds and work your way up to sixty-second intervals. Repeat the exercise every few minutes during a phone call and you'll really give those thighs a workout!

9. At work, walk to a co-worker’s office to tell him or her something rather than emailing. Not only will you burn a few calories and stretch your legs, but you’ll reap the benefits of making a human connection instead of a computerized one.

10. Walk your kids to school rather than driving them. Childhood obesity is a huge epidemic and physical education classes at many schools are being cut from school schedules. So if it’s possible to walk to your child’s school from your home, do so. You’ll help establish healthy habits at a young age and that’s priceless.

11. Lift and lengthen your legs while you cook. I stretch my legs like a ballerina using my kitchen counter tops. Just lift your leg, place your heel on the counter and with your abs in, fold over your leg and reach for your toes. Do this and other stretches often enough and you will be able to touch them one day.

12. After food shopping and loading your car with your groceries, walk your shopping cart back to the store instead of leaving it in the store’s parking lot. OW!!!   

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