Skip to main content

Every Step Counts

What is the one way to be active that does not require any special skill, gym membership, or equipment? Walking! Generally walking briskly (2 ½ miles per hour or faster), swimming, yard work, gardening, dancing, and bicycling are all considered moderate intensity. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity per week and two days of strength training for optimum health. “One hundred and fifty minutes of exercise can feel overwhelming. Try breaking it down to 30 minutes of being active at least five days a week or three ten-minute active sessions throughout the day,” Lisa Peterson, University of Illinois Extension Nutrition and Wellness Educator advises. When moderately active, the heart will beat faster, breathing will be harder, but you should still be able to talk.  

One of the key recommendations in the Physical Activity Guidelines is to move more and sit less, which can be even more of a struggle when working from home. Check out these five quick tips for being more active during the workday.

Stand or walk during meetings. If possible, stand or move during virtual meetings. If calling in for a meeting, walk throughout the meeting. You may be so focused on the meeting; you won’t realize how many minutes you’ve been moving!

Keep a small glass of water in your workspace. A small glass of water will help encourage you to stay hydrated throughout the day and make you have to get up and refill it more often.

Set a goal to move at least once an hour. Set a timer to get up every hour and stretch, walk around the house or outside, do a quick house chore, feed the dog or cat, or even water the plants.

Have an accountability partner. Whether a coworker, friend or family member, check-in throughout the day or week to help encourage and motivate each other to be active.

Add exercise to the daily routine. Add a thirty-minute walk, hiking, a yoga session, strength training, or a workout video directly to your calendar and treat that time just like a conference call. Find what time works best for you. Whether it’s the beginning of the day, during lunch, or after work, having it on the calendar can help with maintaining a schedule and be a healthful daily task.

Fitness trackers and pedometers are a useful method for monitoring physical activity, and a supportive motivator to move more. When using a pedometer or fitness tracker, set a goal that best fits personal needs and goals. The suggestion to walk 10,000 steps a day was first promoted in Japan as a marketing campaign in the 1960s to sell pedometers. The World Health Organization and the United States Department of Health and Human Services recommend active minutes rather than the number of steps taken. Americans walk an average of 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day or 1.5 to 2 miles. Research has found even small increases of an extra 2,000 steps per day have shown to lower blood pressure, decrease stress levels, and increased weight loss. “Always talk to your doctor when thinking about starting a new exercise routine,” Peterson suggests. Remember, every step counts towards better health! For additional questions about preparing gluten-free food, reading labels, food safety, recipes, or other nutrition questions, contact the local extension office.

No-Bake Energy Bites

Makes 50 Balls  

1-14.5 oz. can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), drained and rinsed

1 ½ cups quick-cooking oats

1 ¼ cup peanut butter

1/3 cup honey

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

Dried cranberries, blueberries, and chocolate chips (optional)

  1.  Wash hands with soap and water. 
  2. Combine all ingredients except dried cranberries, chocolate chips, and blueberries in a food processor, heavy-duty blender, or mix by hand and blend until well combined.
  3. Divide mixture into small bowls for a variety of different flavored bites. Add your choice of chocolate chips, dried or fresh fruit that doesn’t brown, to the bites, or just leave plain.
  4. Use a tablespoon to form balls and place them on a piece of parchment paper.
  5. Store leftover balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a quick snack or freezer for later use. Yield: 50 balls

Nutrition Facts (per 2 balls serving without optional ingredients): 130 calories, 7 grams fat, 70 milligrams sodium, 12 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 4 grams protein


Questions about food safety, nutrition, food preservation, or looking for recipes? Contact the local University of Illinois Extension office.

Source: Lisa Peterson, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness