A recent study was published that, like a lot of studies, told us what we already suspected: that sitting on the couch a lot is “the perfect storm” for negative lifestyle behaviors. We all know what makes us fat as a society, but this study distilled it down to four factors: Not eating enough fruits and veggies, eating too much saturated fat, not getting enough moderate activity and watching too much TV. The only difference between this and other studies is that they’re not telling us to go hire a trainer and eat only organic foods for the rest of time. They’re merely suggesting that we get our butts up off the couch, and the rest will follow.
I’m a big subscriber to this mentality — in fact I work standing up. (Our lovely editor-in-chief works from a treadmill desk!) So here are some ways that might help you find a reason to cut down on your couch-time this summer! Take a look.
1. Bored? Hungry? Take a walk. My boyfriend and I have forced ourselves lately to break the routine of getting in the car every time we need something. We’ve found that taking a walk in the neighborhood is a great way to enjoy the evening, hang out and chat with one another, and that a lot of the places we go to eat are actually only a few miles from our apartment. Try Google-mapping how far away your favorite lunch spot or wine bar is from your place next time you’re headed out. For us we were blown away at how not far things really were. Walking takes a while and gives you a chance to slow down after a day of work, and it makes you feel like you’re treating yourself well. Plus, walking is easy. So if there’s time to kill, just set a destination and put on some comfy kicks instead of planting yourself in front of the TV.
2. Go swimming. The summer sun can really wear you out fast. But a nearby body of water is a great place to kick back and let your body do what it’s made to do, be active, sweat, burn calories. Even if you’re just sitting near the water, the occasional swim and keeping yourself hydrated is better than hanging inside and letting your metabolism shut down. Plus the sun (wear your SPF!) will do a great job of really wearing you out — like you used to feel as a kid in the summer — and you’ll get better sleep!
3. Cook for yourself. Get ambitious. I mean, you gotta eat, right? Why not make an evening out of it? Pick something from Martha Stewart’s Whole Living website, go grocery shopping, and make a really quality meal. Buzzing around in the kitchen is energizing, and will likely make you so that when you’re done eating and cleaning up, you’re ready to get up and get out. Plus if you had something healthy instead of something quick-and-fried, you’ll feel better no matter what you do after dinner. Getting in a habit of thinking about these things we take for granted has a way of spilling over positively into all the parts of your life.
4. Take a day trip. You have a day off, and you’re tuckered out from working all week. Is lying around all day going to help that? It’ll probably make you feel worse. So plan a day trip to a nearby town where you know you can walk around and enjoy the sights, sounds and bites another city has to offer. It’ll get you up and around and keep you way more entertained than another season of something on Netflix. Don’t waste the daylight — get out!
5. Eliminate the temptation. Are you in the habit of eating in front of the TV? Are you a video game addict? Figure out what the actual culprits of your sedentary habits are and target them individually. Chances are it’s a routine you’ve gotten into with your significant other or your kids. Once you pinpoint it it’s a lot easier to take baby steps towards kicking some less than positive habits. You could start by deciding that un-portioned desserts and snacks in the house are an invitation for overload. Replace them with (almost calorie-free) air-pop popcorn or low-calorie popsicles that will do the portioning for you. Or say that an hour of TV has to be followed by getting up and doing something — cleaning, a set of crunches — instead of just pressing “play” again. They’re just loose guidelines to set goals for yourself, depending on what the hiccup is.
It’s incredibly easy to fall into a routine in the evenings. You think “I worked hard all day, and I’m exhausted. I can’t possibly do one more thing.” But you can, and if you try one thing, you might end up trying a lot more. So get creative, becase it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you cut down on your couch-potato time!
What do you do to get up off the couch in the summer?