Staying Active in a Busy World

The title seems to contradict itself staying active– aren’t “active” and “busy” the same thing?

Unfortunately no.

Many of us are so busy doing “stuff” – that a sedentary lifestyle has slowly crept in. The online site Fast Company recently featured an article with the quote “sitting has become the new smoking.”   Think about how much time we sit every day in vehicles, at our jobs, in meetings, at our kid’s practices, working or playing on the computer, watching TV or movies, reading, studying, writing, crafting, etc.

The challenge is that the items listed above are a critical part of our day-to-day lives.

Probably like you – I want to live a healthier lifestyle. Only 3 small things are preventing me from achieving that goal:

1) No time
2) No energy
3) No gym membership

When Roger Bannister broke the world record for running the mile under 4 minutes – sports enthusiasts were shocked to discover his simple training regime – 10 sets of 1- minute sprints, split by a couple of minutes of recovery.  As a medical student back in the 1950’s, he was incredibly busy and didn’t have time to spare for extensive training sessions.  His entire workout usually took less than 35 minutes.

The book Fast Exercise by Dr. Michael Mosley talks about HIT – High Intensity Training.  His proposal is that 10-20 minutes of intense exercise three times a week is more beneficial than five or more days a week for several hours. The book explains how the HIT method basically puts our muscles and aerobic systems in a semi state of “shock” – and they are forced to adapt building strength, burning calories, and enhancing endurance.  The overall theme of the book is that something is better than nothing, and about being intentional regarding staying active.

Here is a summary of ideas from the book or other resources that I have read through the years:

1) Drink a ton of water to curb your appetite and stay hydrated.
2) Stand while talking on the phone. You’ll burn calories and sound more assertive.
3) If you work at a desk for long periods of time, consider removing your chair and standing for an hour or two. (Reposition your computer so you’re not straining your back.)
4) Go and see a colleague instead of sending an email.
5) Walk to work if feasible, if not, park at the far end of the lot or several blocks away.
6) Organise a lunchtime or after work walking/exercising group.  This will help strengthen encouragement and accountability.
7) If you’re stuck in the airport, don’t sit down.  Grab your bags and go look around the shops.
8) Take a lap around your place of work for a brain break once or twice a day.
9) Add variety to your workout.  If you walk, try a completely different route.  If you jog, try biking.  If you lift heavy weights for strength, switch to light weights for cardio, etc., etc.
10) If your building allows – use the stairs instead of elevators.  Go up and down multiple times before you go to your destination.
11) Having only healthy snacks, nuts, or fruit available at home and at work for when you get the munchies.
12) Exercise while watching TV – push ups, jog in place, stomach crunches, leg lifts, jumping jacks and planking can all be beneficial.

From pg. 154 of Fast Exercise: “Guess how many hours a day you spend sitting? Less than 8?  More than 10? Some experts claim that many of us spend up to 12 hours a day sitting on our well-padded bottoms looking at computers or watching television.  If you throw in the 8 hours we spend sleeping, then that adds up to a remarkable 20 hours a day being sedentary. Ouch.”

The time to start a lifestyle change is yesterday.  Try one technique or a variety of them from the list above.  In conclusion, pg. 165 of Fast Exercise gives us these practical and encouraging words: “Simply by standing more, pacing around a bit more, taking the stairs and walking when you can, you should burn at least an extra 350 calories a day. Over a year this adds up to the calorie equivalent of running about 1000 miles.”

Please comment below on how you balance exercise with your busy lifestyle.  Thanks for reading 🙂


About David Rische

Christian, husband, father, grandfather, principal, teacher, writer and encourager. David lives in Keller, Texas and has been in public education for over 19 years. He enjoys family time, biking, reading, NFL and MLB, magic, board games, movies and making people laugh.
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3 Responses to Staying Active in a Busy World

  1. Tony Boulton says:

    Like a lot of folks, I make excuses why I don’t get more exercise. In Grapevine we are blessed with a community activities center where residents can have access to a gym for less than $1 a week. But even so, my exercise is limited to walking the dog. Thanks for this timely reminder.


  2. kim blevins says:

    I have always felt that “busy” is doing stuff. “Active” is doing things that result in getting something done or making a difference in your life or someone elses.
    Great tips, I think I will try some this week! 🙂


  3. Sharon Hill says:

    Dave. This information is excellent. It is shocking how those sitting hours add up. Thanks for the challenge.


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