Unless you’re an Olympic athlete, you probably know deep down that you don’t move enough.
Modern society is increasingly sedentary, and the fact that we writers spend a lot of time glued to our desk chairs doesn’t help matters. Who has time to exercise when there’s chapters to be written?
Moving more is way easier than you think. Even when you have a writing deadline to hit and chores to do! That’s because all you need to focus on is moving more, not hitting some magical 10,000-step count every day. Add a few steps today and a few more tomorrow and you’re well on your way to boosting your health!
Plus, getting active will get the blood flowing to all parts of your body and help you loosen up not just your physical muscles, but your creative ones, too.
Set a goal to increase your step count by just 500 more steps each day for a week. That’s 3,500 more steps by the end of the week!
Here’s 23 ways to easily rack up the steps in between writing scenes, outlining your next chapter, or, heaven forbid, doing loads of laundry.
1. Drink More
You probably need to hydrate more anyway. But drinking more water has another advantage: you have to get up more! Whether to fill your glass or head for the restroom, you’ll be getting up and walking more automatically if you aim to increase your water intake. Try using a smaller cup or water bottle (say, 16 ounces instead of 32) to make yourself get up to refill more often.
2. Use the Far Restroom
And speaking of which, you can add even more steps if you use the restroom furthest from where you are. Yes, this means planning a tiny bit ahead for your bathroom break instead of darting into the nearest one, but you’ll get even more steps when you get up to go.
3. Make More Trips
Don’t load yourself up like a pack mule when bringing in the groceries or taking bags out to the car. Instead, take only one bag at a time and make multiple trips. You’ll boost your step count without thinking! For even more benefit, do some bicep curls with those grocery bags to get a little arm workout in.
4. Leave the Commercials On
If you’re watching TV, don’t fast-forward through the commercials. Challenge yourself to see how many steps you can squeeze in during “this word from our sponsors” by jogging in place or marching around the room.
Watching Netflix and not being pestered by commercials? Fit in your steps between episodes to break up your binge-watching or only allow yourself two shows before a 15-minute walking break.
5. Schedule It In
Scheduling is a magic tool for getting more done in your day. And that goes for exercise, too. In between major tasks, give yourself a 10-minute break to move around. Do some jumping jacks in the bathroom, pull up a seven-minute exercise routine on your phone, or just walk a few laps around the office or your house. You’ll clear your head and come back to the next task on your list refreshed and ready to dive in.
You can also download an app or set a timer on your phone reminding you to stand up and move around every so often. Some fitness trackers also buzz to remind you to move.
6. Make It Personal
Instead of pinging someone on Slack or sending an email, walk to their desk. If you’re a full-time writer and don’t have an office you’re chained to, put your own spin on the technique by walking to your co-working space or your favorite coffee shop instead of driving.
7. Park in the Furthest Spot
Instead of fighting for the spot right next to the handicapped space, take the very furthest parking spot you can find from your destination, then walk in. As an added bonus, you’re less likely to get your car dinged by ding-a-lings in the lot hunting for a space close to the store!
8. Take a Walking Meeting
Steve Jobs, Sigmund Freud, and Aristotle all swore by walking meetings. Why not give it a try? Instead of sitting around waiting for Wayne from accounting to get to the point, take smaller meetings on the move. You’ll waste less time on pointless minutae, increase your efficiency, and get some steps in.
9. March while Heating Lunch
Okay, you’re going to have to accept that you’ll look like a lunatic. But marching in place while you’re waiting for your lunch to heat up in the microwave is a great way to increase your step count when you weren’t doing anything anyway.
So you’re not comfortable marching in the breakroom or kitchen? March in place wherever you are comfy, like in the bathroom while you’re brushing your teeth.
11. Go Out for Lunch or Coffee
If you’re trying to save money, you may bring your lunch to work or drink the office coffee. If so, make with the marching while you wait in the breakroom. But otherwise, consider taking a stroll to get lunch or a Starbucks. Getting away from your computer will also help recharge your mental batteries—eating at your desk is a surefire way to increase burnout.
12. Bypass the Drive-Thru
We all have those busy days when we just can’t handle the idea of cooking. Picking something up sounds so tempting—but don’t let it derail your movement goals. Instead of going through the drive-thru, park and go inside to get your meal.
13. Take the Stairs
Don’t use the elevator; hoof it instead. Just one flight in the train station or at the mall adds a quick way to tone up—each flight of stairs is about the equivalent of 38 steps on flat ground.
14. Lap the Store
Instead of being as efficient as you can when grocery shopping, take a few extra laps around the store. Wandering around (as long as you’re not adding more to your cart) can help you add steps while getting in some fun people-watching or browsing.
15. Walk the Last Bit
Get off your train or bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way instead of riding straight to your destination. This works with a taxi or Uber, too, and can even save you a couple bucks!
16. Do Chores
Mow the lawn. Rake those leaves. Vacuum the bedroom. Go get the mail—and loop around the long way coming back. Walk to the store for the milk you forgot instead of piling into the car. A few chores go a long way to adding to your movement for the day—and you’ll feel better now that you finally crossed them off the list!
Fidget spinners are a popular way to try to focus during conversations or meetings, but you don’t need a gadget to do this! Jiggle your legs or make tapping motions with your feet instead. Keep it subtle and quiet if you’re working around other people, but try it out. Making walking motions with your feet or legs under the table can burn more calories than you’d expect!
18. Read while Walking
No, not while you’re walking to work or crossing the street! But if you have your morning cup of coffee and read the paper while sitting in your favorite chair, switch it up. Pace around the room or go up and down stairs while you’re reading the news or checking your email in the morning.
When you’re switching gears in your day, whether that’s from your day job to writing or from writing to cooking dinner, take five minutes for a dance party. Put your favorite song on or pull up a great YouTube video and dance along like a crazy person for a few minutes. You’ll get some movement in and feel happier, too!
20. Walk the Dog
Take Bruno around the block an extra time or two each day. He’ll love it and you’ll get the benefits of both walking and some fresh air.
Don’t have a pooch? Check with your local animal shelter to see if they’re looking for volunteers. Spending time with shelter pets, walking or playing, burns calories, jacks up your karma, and will probably make you grin ear to ear. Score!
21. Pace on the Phone
Have an important phone call to make? Slip on a headset and pace while you talk. If you can use your mobile phone and make it a quick walk outdoors, even better, but even just pacing around the room will help get some more steps in while you’re chatting. It may even help you focus better on what the other person is saying, as the physical motion can keep you from getting distracted by thinking about what you’re going to say next or what’s for dinner tonight.
This is an easy one if you have kids—or if your neighbors have kids, or your sister has kids, whatever. Play hide-and-seek or tag, or go to the park and run around.
No kids? No problem! Buy a cheap kite and go to the park all by yourself to run around and have a throwback to the days when your only deadlines involved getting home for dinner. Feel awkward about being at the park on your own? Try taking yourself out for mini-golf or bowling just for fun.
23. Make the Most of Your Wait
We all spend too much time waiting for doctor’s appointments or at the mechanic’s. Instead of sitting in the waiting room leafing through a random magazine from 2003, go walk around the block a few times. Ask the receptionist when they might be ready for you, set an alarm on your phone, and go!
Want even more ways to increase your step count? Download this handy PDF from the nonprofit America on the Move to learn 100 ways to add more movement to your life!
Do you have a favorite way to boost your daily step count? Let us know in the comments!
For more on staying healthy as a writer, check out these articles:
- 6 Great Stretches for Writers
- Why Sitting Is Bad for Your Health and What To Do About It
- Shattering the Misery Myth: How to Nurture Your Mental Health as a Writer
Kate Sullivan is an editor with experience in every aspect of the publishing industry, from editorial to marketing to cover and interior design.
In her career, Kate has edited millions of words and helped dozens of bestselling, award-winning authors grow their careers and do what they love!