Over the years, labor-saving devices have taken much of the physical work out of doing everyday tasks (e.g., cars reduced the need to travel on foot). While making our lives easier in many ways, this has come at a significant cost—we are paying for it with bulging waistlines and chronic disease. The good news is that YOU have the choice to increase your physical activity. While it is often difficult to plan 30-60 minutes of structured exercise into your day, it is much easier to plan shorter bouts of activity by making small changes. These small changes can add up to large, significant amounts of activity that can improve your health, fitness and quality of life.
If you are a dialysis patient, you may have less time and less energy than others, due to the process of dialysis itself. But by using creativity, even you should be able to incorporate some small changes into your day. Remember to consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
Here are 17 ways you can build more activity into your life in 2017.
Take the long way!
1. Many of us must drive to work, or for dialysis patients, to the clinic. Consider parking a few minutes’ walking distance from the front door of your job or clinic. A 10-15 minute walk is a great way to START and FINISH your day.
2. If there are not any remote parking lots, schedule 10 minutes to walk up and down the stairs, or around your building prior to going where you need to be.
3. If you take mass transit, get off the train or bus one or two stops early and walk the rest.
Turn sitting into standing
4. Stand or pace in your dialysis center waiting area while waiting for a chair. You will stay seated for several hours during dialysis, so make use of the time you have to move around!
5. If you work in an office, stop emailing or calling your office mates. Walk to their offices and engage in a conversation. The same goes for walking into another room to have a conversation with a family member. If you need a reminder to move, set an alarm for every hour!
6. Avoid eating at your desk or in a restaurant. Bring snacks or a light lunch that is easy to eat while walking. This activity also may help avoid the need for a post-lunch coffee or nap.
7. When visiting family or friends, make your visit a “walk and talk,” especially on nice days. Einstein claimed his best thoughts always came to him while walking!
8. Consider a “walking workstation.” Walking desks can be expensive, but a used treadmill retrofit with a platform for a computer doesn’t have to be. Make your morning phone calls and emails while walking.
9. Don’t let TV be sitting time! Pushups, sit-ups, stretching, and using resistance bands or light weights can easily be done while watching TV. An easy strategy is to make commercial time a workout break. You can find plenty of at-home workout routines online.
10. When doing chores at home, avoid labor-saving devices, like riding lawn mowers or leaf blowers. Use manual tools (like push-mowers or rakes).
11. Make more frequent trips to the grocery store and consider walking. Carrying groceries is a strength-training activity.
12. Lay out your workout clothes for the next day before going to bed. It will remind you to work out in the morning, and will simplify the process.
Simple lifestyle tweaks
13. Become a pacer! Pace while doing everyday activities like brushing your teeth, talking on the phone or waiting for your chair at the dialysis clinic.
14. Try chair squats in the waiting room at the dialysis clinic, or at home while watching TV. Chair squats are a simple exercise to help build leg strength. It involves rising from a chair, sitting back down, and repeating. Do as many as you can in 30 seconds, take a break, and repeat 2-3 times.
15. Take advantage of activities hosted at your local community center—they are often free!
16. Traveling to a new city? Ditch the tour bus and take a walking or biking tour—you’ll get to see the city close-up. Remember to pack workout clothes, or at least comfortable walking shoes.
17. MAKE EXERCISE FUN! Find a buddy to work out with. Or try listening to podcasts; many are free and can be very entertaining. It might take some time, but find activities that you enjoy, whether it is by yourself or with others.
2017 is the year to find excuses TO exercise, instead of finding excuses NOT to. There are so many ways to squeeze more activity into your day. Even as a dialysis patient, you CAN find time to move, IF you are creative, and IF you make it a priority!
Dr. Ken Wilund is an expert in exercise science whose research focuses on the effects of exercise on patients with kidney disease. He is an associate professor at the University of Illinois College of Applied Health Sciences.
Tune in for a FREE webinar with Dr. Wilund on Tuesday, January 17 from 1-2 p.m. (ET) to learn more about the research regarding exercise for dialysis patients, and ways of incorporating exercise into your life.