MARQUETTE - People from across Marquette County have spent the past couple of months learning to change their lifestyles - adopting healthy diets with more servings of fruits and vegetables and learning strength-training exercises that can be done pretty much anywhere - as part of The Mining Journal's Healthy Weight Journal Community Wellness Challenge.
But as the 12-week program nears its final group meetings, participants should look not only at getting in scheduled exercise, but attempting to make fitness a part of their daily routine.
"If you don't have 30 to 60 minutes to work out every day, cut it up into 10-minute increments," said Jenna Zdunek, senior health and wellness leader for the YMCA of Marquette County. "It's just being active and not sedentary."
Getting up to stretch so you’re not sitting all day is one good way to incorporate health in your day. Before heading out around Presque Isle for last year’s Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk, participants warmed up with stretches led by Jenna Zdunek of the YMCA. (Journal file photo)
One way to incorporate being active throughout the day is playing with kids. For example, Jenn Ross, left, of Kid Kite in Ishpeming, assists John Deatrick, 6, of Gwinn in creating a sled kite during Kaleidoscope, a kids educational fun fair earlier this year. (Journal file photo)
Although getting in regular cardio and strength training by going to the gym or heading outside for a hike is important, a healthy lifestyle also includes smaller bouts of activity.
One tool to help make sure you're getting more activity in your day is wearing a pedometer, which counts the number of steps you take. Experts say aiming for 10,000 steps per day, racked up by walking around the house or at the office, is a good goal. If that seems like too much to start off with, Zdunek recommended simply trying to increase your number of steps each week.
To get in those steps, it also helps to wear comfortable shoes. Adults are recommended to aim for 30 minutes of walking every day, which is much more attainable if you have on comfortable shoes.
Even if you work a desk job that doesn't give you much opportunity to move around during the day, it's still possible to find chances to get out of your chair - mainly by using your feet. Making an effort to spend less time sitting can make a big difference, Zdunek said.
"There's good evidence that reducing the amount of time you spend sitting each day reduces your risk for chronic disease," she said.
While at work, instead of sending an email or picking up the phone to talk with someone else in the building, just walk down the hall to that person's desk. The same goes for chatting with a neighbor across the street while at home.
In addition, while out during the day, instead of heading for the escalator or elevator in a building, take the stairs so you can build leg muscles even while at work. During the day at work, take quick breaks to get up and stretch or move around.
At home, if you have errands to run, consider walking, or, if the places you need to visit are too far to walk, park in a central location and walk to the separate stores.
If there is yard work or housework to be done, tackle it in a way that gets your heart rate up - use an old-fashioned push mower, do your dishes by hand. Also avoid remote controls for your television and garage door by using your own muscles to change the channel.
If you want to watch television, use that time to also get in some fitness by marching in place, riding an exercise bike or lifting weights. Challenge yourself to do crunches or pushups through the entire commercial break.
In the evenings, the whole family can work to get active. Zdunek suggested having the family take a short walk or bike ride before or after dinner. Turn on some music and dance in the living room together. If all the kids want to do is play, play along with them. Games like tag or hide and seek, even playing on playground equipment at the park can be exercise for both parents and kids.
"Disconnect your cable for a month," Zdunek said. "Just get up and do something."
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.