There are many benefits to regular physical activity. Being active reduces risk of diseases such as diabetes and cancer. It also has the added benefit of improving mood, providing energy, and improving sleep. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week. It can be difficult or maybe even feel impossible to fit structured workouts into an already busy life of ministry.

Any movement is better than no movement! Consistent daily movement can add up over time and result in health benefits. Furthermore, the recommended 150 minutes can be broken up into small 10, 15, 20 or 30-minute increments throughout the week.  Making small consistent changes that are easy to fit into your current lifestyle is a great way to start living a healthier and more active life.

Here are 5 ways to incorporate more physical activity into your everyday life.

  1. Start or end each day with stretching. Stretching can help maintain joint health, increase your range of motion, and improve your ability to do daily activities. Hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds and you can repeat them one or more times.  AHA compares 10 minutes of stretching to walking the length of a football field. Review the University of Michigan’s Guide to Stretching & Flexibility for some stretching ideas.  Could you incorporate some stretches at the beginning or end of your day?
  2. Chores can count as a workout. Things like vacuuming, gardening, mowing the lawn, cleaning the garage or painting can be done with a moderate level of exertion. Add some music and almost any chore can be made into cardio. The AHA compares 20 minutes of vacuuming to walking 1 mile. An added bonus is you get brownie points with your spouse; it is a win-win situation. What are some things around your home that you need to get done?
  3. Park farther away. It is easy to be in a hurry and search for the closest parking spot. Instead, try parking farther away from the entrance and briskly walk to the door. This will add some extra steps to your day. What are some ways you can add more walking to your week?
  4. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walking stairs easily becomes a cardiovascular exercise.  It burns about 5-11 calories per minute. Stair walking uses muscles in your legs, abdomen, back and arms. Daily stair walking has been shown to improve cardiovascular health and decrease your risk for metabolic syndrome. Think about how you can add stairs into your daily or weekly routine.
  5. Take phone calls standing or walking.  Much of a minister’s workday may be spent reaching out to parishioners or planning church events over the phone. Try standing and walking around during phone calls. This may increase focus as well as provide more movement into your day. How much more movement would walking and talking add to your day?

To learn more, see the following resources:

American Heart Association (2021). How much physical activity do you need?

American Heart Association (n.d). Make every move count.

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (2019) Move your way: Tips for Busy Day [Youtube] s

UVAHealth (2020). 5 Good reasons to take the stairs and added health benefits.

Whitaker et al. (2021). Daily stair climbing is associated with decreased risk for metabolic syndrome. BMC Public Health. Doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-10965-9

Physical contributor: Rosa Ketchum, DNP, RN, NC-BC
Executive editor: Johanna Rugh
Curator of content: Carla Working