Fitting Exercise In: “Micro” Movement Counts! – Part 1

It’s amazing how hard it can be to fit movement into our schedules sometimes right? As a full-time Pilates instructor for over 15 years I always felt so lucky that I worked at a studio and could just hop on a reformer throughout my day to work-in some work-outs.

Exercise can be outdoors

In the past few years though, I’ve transitioned from full-time Pilates instructor to university faculty. I now have to get creative to get in as much activity each day as I did in the studio.

Of course, most of my clients had careers in more traditional locations that involved lots of sitting and sedentary time. We often strategized ways they could move more during the day and I am personally using all of that in my own life now!

Research results are motivating me more than ever to fit in as much activity as possible. Becoming just a little more active each day has been linked to improved health benefits such as increased longevity and quality of life, and decreased risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes (1, 2).

These increased benefits even occur in people who already receive the recommended amounts of exercise each week (1) but aren’t very active in their day to day lives. There’s a reason the saying “sitting is the new smoking” is so popular – it’s true! The benefits are also dose dependent, meaning people who move more in all aspects of life (exercise and activity) experience more benefits (1, 2).

So how do you fit in more activity, and how is this different than exercise?

Exercise can be fun!

Physical activity is any type of movement that we do; walking, gardening, cleaning, dancing, going up stairs – and exercise focused movement that is done to promote physical fitness. Basically, all exercise is physical activity but not all physical activity is exercise.

It’s encouraging to know that focusing on total activity has benefits – some days it really is easier to be more active instead of exercising.

So how can you get more movement into your day?

Well, doing Pilates regularly (which is exercise) is actually a great way to ensure you can be more active. The core support and stabilization that is a hallmark of Pilates will help your body feel better, and when you feel better you’ll be more likely to choose more activity.

There are also opportunities for more activity around us everywhere – typically grouped into 4 major areas – work, transportation, home, and leisure.

This post will give ideas to fit movement in at work and during your commute! Stay tuned for my next post, where we’ll discuss movement at home and while having some leisure time.

Exercising while  working

At work:

1. Use a timer: Every 55 minutes set the timer so you will get up and move. You can stretch, walk down the hall, walk up a flight of stairs, do a plank, do some jumping jacks, or chair tricep dips – not only will this be beneficial for your body, but will make you more productive too!

2. Walk and talks: Have a phone call scheduled? Use your cell and go for a stroll during the call. This also works for in-person meetings too!

3. Standing desks and physioballs: Both of these tools can help you to be more active. Ideally whatever set-up you use has variety. It’s best if you can switch from sitting to standing and you keep changing it up. My mantra is the best position is the next position.


1. Commute: Try to walk or bike if possible to work and on errands. Even taking the bus tends to be more active then driving.

2. Drive shorter, move farther: If you have to drive to work (I do) then try to park farther away from your destination. I always park on the roof of the 6-story parking garage. Walking up the stairs at the end of my day gets my heart going and gives me a gorgeous rooftop view before my drive home!

I hope I’ve given you some ideas to bring more activity in your day. I like to make a game out of moving more. At the beginning of the day I remind myself to search for movement and then I go with it. With intention and awareness you’ll start to notice that movement possibilities are endless!


1. 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018.

2. Garber CE, Blissmer B, Deschenes MR, et al.; American College of Sports Medicine. American College of Sports Medicine position stand: Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. 2011;43(7):1334-1359. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e318213fefb.

Ky Autumn Russell

About Ky Autumn Russell

Ky Autumn Russell, MA, PMA®-CPT is the host of The Blessful Body Podcast a weekly podcast that focuses on spreading mindful movement based wellness solutions. Ky is faculty in Kinesiology at San José State University, a Balanced Body® Master Instructor and Anatomy in 3D® Instructor, and founder of a Pilates and yoga virtual studio, The Blessful Body Membership. Ky has nearly 2 decades of experience teaching Pilates including at St. Francis Hospital’s Center for Dance Medicine as a Pilates Rehabilitation Specialist. Ky holds a Master’s degree in Kinesiology and has conducted original research on postpartum women’s exercise experiences. Her favorite ways to move are Pilates, yoga, hiking in the redwoods, and kitchen dance parties with her 6-year old daughter. You can find Ky at