Stand up—I have some big news for you. As Americans, most of our days are spent sitting and our fannies are paying for it. That probably wasn’t the most shocking of news, but stay standing. Between driving to and from work, typing at desks, watching reruns of Friends (guilty) or popular Netflix movies, and then lying down in bed to repeat it all again in the morning, the only walking we get is moving to and from the next seated position. It’s time to give our fannies some attention. It’s time to go for a much-needed walk or volta (stroll) as they say in Greece.
We were made to walk. But, our lives have changed and we are now more sedentary than ever, spending most of our time sitting or lying down. The first thing in the morning we read and check social media while lying in bed. We sit in our cars as we order a Grande caramel latte macchiato with whip cream, or whatever those popular Starbucks drinks are. Instead of walking to the grocery store, we drive. We cheer on our favorite sports teams while sitting on an overly cushioned couch. All of our meals are spent sitting around a table or eaten hurriedly in our cars on our way to work. I’m typing how much we all sit around all day, while I sit at my desk in a very uncomfortable metal chair. We all need to make an effort and take lessons from our Greek roots and find some time in our busy lives to get more movement.
Look at our ancestors. To them, walking was the only way of getting around the xorio (village). Even today you’ll find locals walking to bakeries for the freshest psomi (bread) and pies to start their day. For dinner they’ll stroll to a nearby fish market to get their hands on the latest catch or walk next door to the meat market for a rack of lamb. The pethia (children) walk to and from school. Every afternoon papouthes (grandpas) meet up at the local kafeneio (coffee shop) and laugh over a game of tavli (backgammon) while they sip their frothy frappe. They are social, they eat well, and they walk everywhere.
Walking is a very underestimated form of exercise. But, it’s absolutely free and requires no gym membership, is low impact on the body and burns fat. Make time for 30 minutes in your day for a volta. There are many different ways to incorporate it into your day. Let’s get started:
- Find a walking buddy: Take your dog for a volta in the morning or after work, or better, both. Don’t have a dog? Go with a family member or friend. They tend to have to stop to pee far less than a dog would anyway.
- For the busy worker: Set a timer on your phone at least every hour to get up and walk around the office to peel you away from the screen for a few minutes and give your fanny a break from those long periods of sitting.
- Break up your day: If you don’t have a full 30 minutes, break up those 30 minutes into 3 sessions—finding 10 minutes here and there. A 10-minute walk after each meal is a great place to start and to burn the extra piece of baklava from dinner.
- Commercial break: While you’re watching the Ross & Rachel saga on Friends, every time a commercial comes on stand up and march in place or walk around the living room. The commercials are boring and repetitive anyway.
- Walk while you talk: Taking conference calls and catching up on the latest gossip with your friends doesn’t need to be spent in a chair. Take your phone calls on the go.
- Do your chores: You may have hated dusting and vacuuming as a kid, but it’s an easy way to get moving. Gardening is an even better way to break a sweat while you pull those never ending weeds and pick those delicious vegetables you planted in the spring.
- Walk for a cause: Benefit your body while you help out a cause or fundraiser. You can find 5K events happening almost weekly wherever you live.
- Track your steps: Use a fitbit, pedometer or better yet, most smartphones now have a “health” app and are more accurate anyway. Aim for 5,000 steps a day to start, and go up from there. After you get in the habit of 5,000 steps a day you’ll notice you’ll be more motivated to strive for even more steps. Getting 8,000-10,000 in a day is a great goal to build up to, and then after that, the sky, or the trail ahead is the limit. When you get home from work and are short of your goal, hop on a treadmill to round the numbers off or go outside and walk around the block.
Don’t let your fanny sit around all day. Whether you are the step tracker, dog walker, or the person who just takes the time to get a walk in no matter where you are, your fanny will thank you for the extra movement. Weight loss and trimming down really is as easy as a walk in the park.