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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

We Walk …. Because We Can

I use to wear a FitBit. I liked it. Now I'm crazy about MapMyFitness. I like it better.

We all know that we should move our bodies as much as we can, at least 10,000 steps a day. You know that is good for you. But do you do it? Does it seem like a chore?

I find myself recommending to more and more people that they get deliberate about moving more each day. Yes, exercise is good for you. But I'm not talking about exercise. I'm talking about living differently by moving around more.

It makes me crazy to see someone drive up to the parking lot at the gym and circle around to find the closest parking spot. It's silly don't you think? But I cut them some slack because I really think most people don't even think about increasing activity in their day. We are all just set in our ways with our habits.

But what if you got deliberate about adding more steps, more movement, more activity in your day? It would make a difference in your overall physical and mental health. Here are things to try:

1. Deliberately park far away from the building where you are going. Just because there are spaces near the entrance, you don't have to park there. I've started parking in the parking lot of another building near my building at work. Sure, if it is raining or I have a lot to carry, I'll park close. But most days it is not raining and I don't have much to carry. That brief walk to your car will help you clear your mind from the mental clutter of your work day. Hmmmmm.....

2. Scope out what is less than two miles from where you live and walk there instead of drive. When I started to do that I realized that our dentist, the gym, a secure mailbox, my chiropractor, the grocery store, and the library are all less than two miles from our house. It seems nuts to drive there when we can walk there. This past Monday we had a bunch of light rain. I drove to the gym thinking I should drive because of the rain. After my workout, I left my car there and walked home in the rain. It was refreshing. It was also easy to retrieve my car later. No big deal if my priority is to be active. Hmmmmm.....

3. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Okay, that is an easy one but one worth mentioning. Sometimes we think we are in a hurry but we really aren't. Are you justifying your ride on the elevator by saying I have to get where I'm going faster? Hmmmmm.....

4. Evaluate the way you use technology to communicate. If you live in a two story house like we do, do you sometimes text the person upstairs instead of walking upstairs to talk? Do you yell from the kitchen that dinner is ready instead of going to deliver the news personally? Can you change some of the habits you have to deliver information more personally? At work, what would it be like to go over to someone else's office and talk face-to-face instead of by email? Hmmmmm.....

5. You can't manage what you don't measure. So maybe you should get a pedometer or use the app MapMyFitness. I loved my FitBit and would still use it if I hadn't found MapMyFitness. I have a friend, Vicki in St. Louis, who uses the same app and she posts her daily activity on Facebook. It inspired me and I started doing the same. From far away, we support each other and hold each other accountable. I can't worry if people think I'm being showy by doing that. I know it motivates me and helps me focus on my personal best. Isn't that what really matters?

So what else do you do to increase your activity daily? Leave a comment below so we can all hear your idea. Every little bit can help. Now go and get moving!

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