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Originally published Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Make fun and fitness a priority at work and at home

Tips on staying active.

McClatchy-Tribune

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Finding time to stay active — especially during the fast-paced summer season — can seem nearly impossible, but new research on the dangers of sedentary lifestyle has fitness experts cautioning clients to get moving, no matter what the activity.

In recent months, the studies have been daunting — for the first time, researchers are proving that even adults who work out at night are hurting their health by staying immobile for so long during the day. Just watching two hours of television a night has now been linked to increased chances of developing Diabetes 2, cardiovascular disease and even premature death. Sedentary lifestyle has also been linked to depression and anxiety disorders.

But for adults working typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. jobs, there's little time to get exercise throughout the day. And at night, whether schedules are filled with taking care of families or keeping up with social lives, there's even less time to get in a workout.

Luckily, D.C.-based fitness expert Doug Murphy, who has worked as a personal trainer for more than 20 years, frequently encourages his clients to find ways around these dilemmas. Now is the time to get moving, Murphy said.

FIND JOY IN EXERCISE: The most important tip, Murphy said, is to find a physical activity you enjoy. With the sense of urgency from this recent research, the days of hitting the treadmill for an hour are over. It's now about finding small ways to get moving and according to Murphy, the easiest way to do this is to have fun.

"Find something you enjoy," he said. "If you like to dance, dance your heart out, even if it's in your living room. If you do that for several hours, you'll burn so many calories."

Summer is a great time to take advantage of fun activities, since you can spend so much time outside. Whether it's playing with your kids, going for a swim, spending time in the garden, walking around at sunset or taking a Zumba class, Murphy said even the smallest activities count. And when you're having fun doing so, you'll do more than just benefit your physical health — you'll also be catering to your mental and spiritual health.

REDEFINE YOUR WORKOUT SCHEDULE: With jampacked schedules, there never seems to be enough time to exercise. Murphy said it's time to redefine how we consider working out. Instead of picturing an hourlong sweaty work out session, he instead encourages his clients to find small windows of activity throughout the day. Even if it's only 10 minutes of exercise a few time throughout the day, that time can add up and the benefits are the same as working out steadily for a full hour.

"I've had clients tell me, 'I definitely want to strengthen my core, can I do that in five to 10 minutes if I don't have a full hour?"' he said. "I tell them to complete a couple of exercises at a time in 10 minute chunks. By the end of the day, you can get in that one hour workout."

The key to doing this, Murphy said, is to prioritize movement in your schedule. It may mean waking up 15 minutes earlier in the morning or spending 10 minutes of a lunch break on getting active, but you'll be thanking yourself at the end of the night when you don't feel guilty about not working out.

BE CONSCIOUS OF ACTIVITY AT WORK: Many people have the standard eight-hour workday, most of which is spent sitting in front of a computer or in meetings. There's little you can do to help this, since earning a living is obviously a priority over exercise. However, there are many small things you can do during the workday to get your blood pumping, Murphy said.

It's all about being aware of how long you've been sitting and making an effort to get up several times throughout the day. Instead of emailing of calling a colleague who sits across the office, take the time to walk across the office and speak in person. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. If possible, bike or walk to work. Take a walk on your lunch break. Park your car further away from the office so you have to walk longer. Even better, make getting active a priority for the whole office. Murphy said this can be done easily by enacting standing-long meetings, where every employee commits to getting out of their chair. In addition to actively supporting your body weight, Murphy said this has been proven to reduce meeting time and increase productivity.

GET ACTIVE AS A GROUP: Just as it's more beneficial to exercise as an entire office, it's extremely worthwhile to involve the whole family in physical activities, Murphy said. Because family schedules are often so crazy, many of his clients say they often don't have time to work out because they'd rather be spending it with their significant other or children. The answer to this is simple, Murphy said: Involve them in the activity.

In addition to spending time together and bonding, you're also ensuring your children are learning from an early age how to be active and the importance of getting exercise. Family members can be your greatest motivators and when you're spending time with those you love while exercising, you're sure to enjoy it more.

"You've got to have some quality time with your kids, so this is the perfect thing," he said. "It's healthy for everyone."

Murphy said it's easy to make the exercise fun, as well. For entertainment, instead of going to the movies or watching television at home, do something to get active. Play miniature golf, go bowling, break out the old Twister board or play a Wii game. You won't even realize all the calories you're burning, he said, because you'll be having so much fun.

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