The Two Most Important Things You Can Do Daily To Stay Healthy
Some days I feel like Wonder Woman. I get up early, I crush my workout and eat lots of veggies. Some days I feel like the secretary from Monster’s Inc. (#Rozthrowback anyone??)
Rest days are important but rather than letting it all hang out on the days you can’t fit in a workout, there are two things you can do DAILY to keep your body running like the ultimate performance machine it was designed to be.
Step counting, aka walking, is one of the most simple things we do every day that can help us stay fit and healthy. Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis or NEAT is the exercise we don’t typically account for. NEAT is the activity accumulated throughout your typical day. Whether it be standing at your desk, walking around the office, or picking up around the house, movement adds up!
I really started to notice a change in my body when I started paying attention to, and trying to hit a certain number of steps each day. The US Dept. of Health recommends the average person aim for 10,000 steps per day, but who wants to be AVERAGE?! So let’s shoot for 12-15,000 each day! #youcandoit #takethestairs
There are many different tools out there to help us keep track of our steps, keep us accountable and make sure we’re moving enough throughout the day. The most popular is probably the Fitbit but did you know that even if you don’t have a fitness tracking watch, your phone counts steps, too!? The health app on your phone counts steps according to the movement it senses, so if you’re not using a watch, you’d have to keep your phone on your at all times (which most people do anyway).
If you’ve never counted steps before, I challenge you to pay attention to your step counts over the next couple of days. It’s a fun little personal test towards the end of the day when I realize where I am and figure out how I can get to my goal. Your pup may benefit too! Targeting a certain number of steps each day has definitely gotten me out the house after dinner to walk my dog so I can get those steps in!
So you can’t fit a workout in because you’ve got a big meeting, or drinks with the girls after work, or Sally’s got soccer practice and Johnny’s got gymnastics but if you really want to prioritize your health each day, the second thing you can do is stretch. Sounds simple, right?
“You mean if I bend over, touch my toes, sit on the floor in an uncomfortable pretzel-like position for a few minutes, then I can be the picture of health in no-time?” NO, Margo, nothing worth having comes easy.
You may need to set your alarm to get up 15 minutes earlier, or start to wind down at night earlier than normal but trust me, if you make a habit out of stretching, your whole body will thank you.
Stretching is imperative for SO many reasons. Stretching helps increase flexibility, which encourages a certain range of motion in the joints. If the muscles are stiff, shortened and inflexible, one is more prone to injury, strains, and muscle damage.
Regularly stretching has been shown to help decrease stiffness, reduce pain levels (especially in those with lower back and neck pain) and may even help reduce the frequency and severity of muscle fatigue and cramping.
Chronic stress can produce a number of undesirable responses in the body, including increased feelings of anxiety, fatigue and tension. The American Council on Exercise says, “Regularly stretching has been shown to reduce mental tension and, when combined with mindful breathing techniques, may also help to decrease anxiety and depression.”
There are no harmful effects of stretching if you take your time and breathe. Listen to your body and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. You’ve got to breathe through the discomfort to unlock new length and space in your body. Flexibility can be practiced and improved over time but you’ve got to make it a habit. I recommend choosing the same time each day, whether that’s in front of your favorite television show after dinner or watching the news early in the morning before the family is awake, set aside about 15 minutes each day to focus on gently and gradually increasing your flexibility.
Make what you do in between your scheduled, structured workouts really count. Rest days won’t feel like a loss when you create healthy, sustainable habits that help you work toward your long term goals.
Comment below if you're counting your steps or are up for the challenge! Or let me know if you’ll commit to stretching for 15 minutes each day. I’ve noticed a great improvement in my workouts and overall energy level since adopting these two clutch strategies that inch me closer to my goals! What you do on off days can have more of an impact than you realize!