Whether you're just starting out on the quest to improve your everyday fitness or a workout ninja who's reading this while doing leg-lifts atop your balance ball, there are plenty of ways to get healthier without disrupting your routine. Experts recommend taking 10,000 steps a day to stay fit, but that's just the beginning — and no matter what level you're starting from, technology can help.
Taking those first steps can seem intimidating, but there's no need to set up a treadmill desk to reach your step goal if you're willing to make some smart tweaks to your day. Here are some simple ideas for getting started:
- Walk a couple blocks to pick up lunch instead of nuking last night's dinner and scrolling through your Instagram feed.
- Ask the front desk guys at work for access to the nearest stairwell entrance (trust us, they've heard it before) and take a few flights instead of the elevator. Bonus: Not only will it improve your cardiovascular health, it means no awkward small talk before you've had your morning coffee.
- During breaks between meetings, take the time to make a few laps around the office rather than sitting at your desk checking the latest happenings on the internet.
- Use a tool like a Fitbit Charge™ to track your progress. It measures steps, distance, floors climbed, calories burned and even keeps track of your sleep habits. Seeing the strides you're making toward your goals — both figuratively and literally! — is one of the best ways to stay motivated.
Up The Intensity
Now that you've gotten the basics down, why not make it your New Year's resolution to step up your game?
- If you have access to a shower near your office, bike to work. In some cities, a bike will actually make your commute faster. And while every commuter knows that sitting in traffic and fighting your way through subway crowds is the best way to ruin your day before it starts, the endorphins that riding a bike unleashes can actually make you more productive once you make it to your desk.
- Store a jump rope under your desk. No joke — this is a serious workout, burning up to 100 calories in ten minutes. No privacy? Head to the stairwell and do your thing on the landing. And if you wear a Fitbit Charge HR™, the device's wrist-based, optical heart rate monitor will tell you when you're hitting your peak cardio zone and accurately track calorie burn during your workout.
- While there, bang out a few plyometric moves. These are short, no-equipment, high-intensity exercises designed get your heart rate up and hit major muscle groups at once. Try this circuit: 45 seconds each of jump squats, mountain climbers, jumping jack planks and skater jumps, resting 15 seconds between each.
Get Some Serious Sweat On
That wasn't so hard, was it? Once you're ready to graduate to next-level fitness, take your workout into the wild.
- If you're crunched for time before your 9 AM meeting, hit the road for a Tabata workout: four rounds of eight, 20-second sprints with a 10-second rest in between, and a one-minute rest in between sets.
- At lunch (provided a park and shower are available), find a bench and perform two, 10-minute sets of step-ups, squat jumps and tricep dips, with a break for a one-minute jog, and a 30-second sprint during each set.
- Find a local running group and commit to training with them a few times a week before you head home for the evening. You'll find having people to run with makes you accountable and more fit since you'll likely up your game to keep up. No group nearby? No problem. Deputize an office mate as your workout buddy and challenge each other to twice-weekly 5ks or 10ks once the workday is done.
- Change the scenery whenever you can. Whenever you can, make a point of spicing up your walking or jogging routine by finding new and interesting routes to explore, whether it's an exotic hiking trail or just part of the city you don't usually visit. Bonus: the Fitbit Surge™ adds GPS tracking to the features offered by other Fitbit models, letting you track of your distance, pace, and elevation, and to review all the splits and routes that you've covered.
Ready to get in shape? Go to Fitbit to get more information and see the trackers in action.
Lucy Maher is a digital media executive with 15 years reporting, writing and content strategy experience. Her work has appeared on SELF.com, MensJournal.com, Details.com, CNBC.com, and in The New York Post and the New York Daily News.