Staying at home more and social distancing don’t have to derail your weight-loss efforts. In fact, walking is one of the easiest and most effective exercises you can do anywhere to lose weight and improve physical and mental health. If you’re looking for ways to add 2,000 steps (roughly 1 mile) to your daily routine, consider these 11 simple strategies:
TAKE 5-MINUTE WALKING BREAKS EVERY HOUR
Sitting for an extended period of time negatively impacts blood flow. However, the good news is you can counteract the effects of sitting with a simple trick: Get up every hour to take a brief 5-minute walking break. Walk around your house or go for a lap around the block. This helps boost your step count and improves your mobility.
TAKE THE STAIRS
Stairs offer an easy way to get your heart rate up quickly, burn a few more calories and get more steps in during your day. If you’re sheltering in place and people are still using the elevators in your apartment building, there might be fewer people utilizing the stairs, so it can be a good way to get in steps while social distancing.
GO THE LONG WAY
Instead of cutting corners through your house or on your daily walk outside, make it a point to take the long route to your destination whenever possible. This only takes a few extra minutes, but it increases your step count. What’s more, the long way may be the route with the least amount of people, allowing you to practice social distancing.
MARCH IN PLACE
It’s easy to default to the couch when watching your favorite show. Instead, try marching in place when you watch TV or during commercial breaks — or when you’re brushing your teeth or waiting for your coffee or tea to brew. You can also use a dedicated walking workout DVD to increase your step count and get a great workout in without leaving the house.
WALK WHILE YOU TALK
A quick chat with a colleague, a phone meeting or a long conversation with friends and family are all good times to add more steps to your day. All you have to do is pace around the home office or living room during your call or even head outdoors to enjoy some sunshine while you talk.
EXPLORE WALKING-ADJACENT ACTIVITIES
Rather than opting for activities that lead you to sit down (like watching a movie) include more activities during your day that require walking. For example, kick the soccer ball around in your backyard, organize and clean around the house or try a new recipe (meal prep can help you get extra steps in the kitchen).
If you live close to the grocery store, consider walking instead of driving. This saves you gas money and can help you get in those extra 2,000 steps in one trip. Plus, carrying heavy groceries builds strength, too.
USE A SMALL WATER BOTTLE
Staying hydrated is important for weight loss. Instead of drinking out of a large water bottle or glass, consider using a smaller one. This requires you to get up more frequently to refill it, and those steps add up over time.
MAKE IT A DOUBLE
You don’t have to get all of your daily steps at one time. Splitting your walking workout into a morning and evening session is a great way to build a walking habit. Even just 10 minutes of walking multiple times a day can make a big impact on your step count and also help you prevent injuries if you’re just starting out.
GET THE FAMILY INVOLVED
Hide and seek, tag, treasure hunts or even tossing around a ball are all activities most kids enjoy. Getting the whole family involved in fun, active games not only increases your step count but also serves as bonding time.
CONSIDER A FURRY FRIEND
There’s no doubt a pet makes you get outside and walk more frequently, which can help with weight loss. Dogs also provide company, help you de-stress and keep you accountable to up your step count. Now is the perfect time to consider adopting, fostering or seeing if your local shelter needs help walking dogs.
To become more active, try setting a simple goal to increase (and track) your daily steps. Go to “Plans” in the MyFitnessPal app and choose a 28-day step plan to learn tips to boost your activity.