Nudge Yourself into Making more Steps

What type of exercise should you do? You don’t need to worry about this too much, because when it comes to physical activity and wellbeing, it’s hard to go wrong. Any movement helps, whether it is sweating it off in the gym, climbing stairs, going for a walk or just getting up to make yourself a coffee. These activities require muscle strength and impact your brain, and it all adds up. You just need to nudge yourself into making more steps:

Taking more steps is the easy way to increase your daily physical activity. There are plenty of simple ways to do so.

Tip 1 – Reflect and set a SMART goal.

Once you know how many steps you are taking, you can set a clear goal. Are you taking 10,000 steps a day? Chances are that you, like two thirds of the people working behind a desk, are not. To keep it simple, start with what you are currently doing and make small changes from there. Adding 500 steps to your daily routine is probably possible for just about anyone. So if you did 5,000 steps; go for 5,500 steps and if you did 7,500; go for 8,000.

Now if you want to aim higher, that’s perfectly okay, as long as you remember to aim for something that will be ‘easy’. Adding 500 steps to your routine for a few weeks in a row, has been proven to be an effective strategy. If you are already taking more than 10,000 steps per day, that’s great! Healthwise, you don’t really need to do more, but when it comes to your personal energy and wellbeing, it might be worth your while to see what a few extra steps can do for you.

Tip 2 – Start with the low hanging fruits.

Having good intentions, tracking your steps and setting goals are all very important, but in practice you need to find ways to take those extra steps. And while this is easy for most people on weekends, during the week when agendas are crammed, it’s perceived as much harder. However, it’s the weekdays that present most of the ‘low hanging fruits’. Especially if you’re spending most of your time behind a desk, you have plenty of options to move around more, starting with your commute in the morning. Once at work, you may be able to go for walking meetings or simply stand up while you are on the phone, go for a lunch walk, or work at a standing desk. The trick is to nudge yourself into using these options. This means that you have to make it easier and more attractive to become more active, so that even when you are super busy, or simply not in the mood, you will still end up taking those steps.

Tip 3 – Treat yourself to the best coffee.

Chances are that there is a coffee machine within 50 meters of your desk. But there also might be a coffee place within 5 to 10-minute walk from your desk that serves much better coffee. Wherever it is; treat yourself to the best possible coffee (or green tea, if you prefer) once or twice a day. This will add hundreds of steps to your routine, if not more. As you know by now, every step counts.

Tip 4 – Go out for lunch together.

Have lunch outside when you get the chance. Or take a sandwich with you and walk to the park. Whatever you choose, plan for regular lunches outdoors. Once lunch dates are in your agenda, chances are that you end up going. Even once a week will seriously add to your steps.

Tip 5 – Eat with the ‘lunch walkers’.

When it comes to walking after lunch, the key is to do it together with others. This way your chances of actually going increase big time, even when the weather is ‘so-so’ or when you have an upcoming deadline. So think ahead when you’re deciding on whom to accompany for lunch, and make sure you regularly end up with the lunch walkers.

Tip 6 – Plan meetings elsewhere.

Our natural behavior when it comes to planning meetings, is to go for the closest option available. By simply planning your meetings further away from your desk (and preferably on another floor) you will have to move more to get there.

Tip 7 – Do more meetings standing up.

While most people have experienced that doing meetings standing up are generally more efficient, they don’t do them very often. Plan a few regular stand ups through- out your week, so everybody there will get the extra benefit of standing up and people will be more likely to stick to the new routine. Schedule them after lunch or mid-afternoon (why?), either at a standing table, in a meeting area or canteen, or at your standing desk. It doesn’t really matter where, as long as you get out of your chair.

Tip 8 – Get a standing desk.

As mentioned before, standing up more often is probably one of the easiest things you can do to become more active. And while standing may not be the same as walking, a mere dosage of five to ten minutes per hour will allow you to counter the negative effects of prolonged sitting. This in itself is a big plus!

Tip 9 – Try a desk bike or balance ball.

Sitting on a desk bike or a balance ball is great way to increase your activity at work, even if you only do it for ten to fifteen minutes a day. Unlike sitting on a chair, sitting on a balance ball will engage your core muscles and keep them working throughout your sit. By regularly switching between postures throughout your day (standing, sitting, using a desk bike, etc.) you will automatically be moving more, and that can make all the difference.

Tip 10 – Get an aisle seat.

When travelling, always get an aisle seat if you can! This will make it so much easier to get up and stretch your legs whenever you feel like it. When you have a window seat, you unconsciously decide to stay where you are, because you don’t want to disturb your fellow passengers.