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There’s a reason that Fitbit is a multi-billion dollar company. Counting steps is an excellent way to encourage yourself to take more of them. And while the scientific jury is still out as to how bad sitting for long periods really is for you, there’s no doubt that people who move more in general — a habit called “NEAT” or non-exercise activity thermogenesis — are healthier and leaner than those who don’t. But you don’t need to invest in a fancy tracker to set a step goal: Your smartphone has an app for that in Apple Health or Google Fit. You can aim right off the bat for 10,000 steps a day. This is what experts recommend, or take a more customized approach by turning on the phone app and see what a typical couple of days look like first, then set a goal of, say, 2,000 more steps than you’ve been doing.
Use Up A Class Card
A staggering stat: As many as two-thirds of people who belong to gyms don’t actually go. So instead of signing up for an ongoing membership that the odds say you won’t end up using, buy a 10-class card at that cycling, yoga, HITT, or barre studio you’ve been eyeing. Make sure the class times jive with your schedule, and then put at least the first three classes on your calendar right away. Following that, schedule your next three right away—and be sure to get ‘em all in before the card’s expiration date.
Learn A New Skill
What’s that? Chugging along on the elliptical holds no allure? Rows upon rows of free weights make your eyes glaze over? (Almost done crapping all over the gym, promise.) Then try something else! Take martial arts classes and work toward your first belt. Sign up for a belly dancing course. Try adult swimming lessons and then log laps. Pick up a jump rope and teach yourself to hop it consistently for one minute (or five!). In order words, find something that makes movement fun for you, so you’ll actually look forward to doing it. “What's something really rad you've seen someone do with their body that made you fantasize for a second about doing yourself?” says Michele Burmaster, a Body Positive Fitness Alliance-affiliated personal trainer and owner of Surf City Fit Club in Huntington Beach, CA. “Whatever it is, you can do it, too!”
Run A Mile
Or target a goal time in which you want to complete that mile. The point is, pick a metric — time or distance — that’s measurable and attainable for you, and work your way up to it. If you’re new to running, that might mean starting with brisk walking and short bouts of running that get increasingly longer as your body adjusts to the demands you’re asking of it. If you’re working up your speed, you’ll be doing intervals of harder running with easy recovery. Why running, you ask? It’s the most accessible activity for pretty much anyone (barring pre-existing injuries or conditions) — you just lace up your shoes and go!
Complete A Fitness Challenge
Challenges of the 30-day variety are not without their critics, who say they’re often overly specific and don’t lend to permanently changed habits since they’re finite. But that can be the beauty of the thing: You’re committing to daily movement for a whole month. Or maybe you do it every other day, or assign a different thing to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Or even just committing to three days of movement-based activity per week. “You don't have to be ridiculously strict and hard on yourself to be consistent,” Burmaster says. “You just have to set a recurring goal and meet it regularly, based on the schedule you decide.”