This article is the fifth and final installment of my series on various steps I am taking to improve my diet. If you missed the earlier topics (Meal Planning, Eating a Rainbow, Water Intake, and Food Logging), you may read them here on my blog. This week I will address increasing your daily activity level. My generation (and the ones on either side of me) are no longer working outside in manual labor jobs the way they did in earlier generations. We sit at desk jobs, work on computers, own vacuums that go on their own, and heck, some of us even have cars that drive without us. We are no longer the active society of our great grandparents.
Growing up I was active, I was involved in sports and spent a lot of time outdoors, but after college my life changed. I sit at a desk for eight hours, go home, and eventually find myself doing more sitting. I realized how truly inactive I had become when I purchased my first fitness tracker. I was shocked at how few steps was actually taking during the day. I assumed I was getting somewhat close to the recommended 10,000 steps each day. I was wrong. I will not recommend a particular brand or type of fitness tracker, because I have actually tried several and found that they all work very well. Finding the one with the community that can hold me accountable is what I have found to be the key component. For people looking to improve their overall well being and increasing their activity level, I do recommend getting some sort of device that monitors your movement. If you have questions about which to get, I will be happy to give my opinion (if you really want it) just give me a call or shoot me a quick email.
The first thing I tell people after they get an activity tracker is to wear it for a week or so without doing more than normal and find out your current activity level. After you have a good idea of your normal daily average you can start to increase your daily goal. If you currently take 4,000 steps in your normal daily activities, set a goal to take 5,000 steps. Keep in mind that one mile is roughly 2,000 steps. So that recommendation of 10,000 per day is equivalent to approximately five miles. Take small increases over a decent period of time. If you jump in with too much of an increase you will burn yourself out and then you are back to where you started. Go slow, do not try be an Olympic athlete overnight, you will end up hurt or burnt out. Set a reminder on your phone to go off every hour that tells you to stand up and go walk around the block. Do little things that will eventually add up to big things.
It is always a good idea to check with your physician to make sure you are able to increase your activity level. Annual wellness exams really are a good thing. Please do not wake up one morning and go jog a 10k after sitting at the computer for 10 years. I promise, it will not turn out well! Listen to your body. Push yourself in small increments, but listen to what your body tells you. If something hurts, stop doing it. Get familiar with the language your body speaks and create an open line of communication.
As always, if you have questions, concerns, or just want to chat, please feel free to come by the Hunt County AgriLife Extension office, 2217 Washington Street, Greenville, Texas, 75401, call (903) 455-9885, or email Sarah.Latham@ag.tamu.edu.