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  • Writer's pictureLifestyle Evolution

Movement Begins with SWAP

Working with clients that have 50 to a couple hundred pounds to lose means we see so many people for whom exercise is a true challenge. When the body is carrying a lot of extra weight, just getting out of bed can be hard with joint pain, back aches, and poor sleep causing low energy and limited mobility. Not to mention all the other ailments that can result from excess weight and poor nutrition.

But the fact is that just moving more consistently is in some ways more important than what we deem as exercise, especially if being sedentary is the day-to-day norm. Sitting too much actually reduces the benefits of exercise and stalls weight loss. Standing and walking throughout the day, whether at work, home, or while running errands can help increase the body’s fat-burning capacity. So if you are stressed about not feeling like you are ready to hit the gym and incorporate an exercise regimen, then start by focusing on three elements that are represented by the acronym SWAP: Stand, Walk, and Push.

NOTE: For some of you, honing in on the Stand and Walk elements will be all you can do right now, and that is fine; what matters is that you are moving more! You can get to the Push element when you are ready.


The goal is to stand for about half of the day. You might ask how that is possible if you have a job where you are sitting at a desk all day, and we have answers for that. Recommendations include:

  • Use a standing desk at work if possible.

  • Take standing breaks and stand up for at least two minutes every 30 to 45 minutes. Even short breaks like this can make a big difference. And it does not hurt to step away from the computer for a few minutes either!

  • Try setting an alarm on your phone each time you come back from a break to sit down again, to remind you of the next break time. Eventually, it will become a habit!

  • Take a brief walk or do some light stretching.

  • Stand up at long meetings. I do this often and the other people in the meetings are used to it!

They key is to not sit for long uninterrupted periods, so get creative. I used to do 10 minutes of yoga in my office, and it not only got me up and moving, but it helped re-center and focus me during stressful days. I also have a large yoga ball I sit on at my desk, so my core is engaged with micromovements when I am sitting. I still have a chair too, so I can switch between the ball and chair as needed.


The goal is to walk 10,000 steps per day. Yes, this sounds like a lot, but you would be surprised how fast it adds up! And if you invest in a pedometer, you can track your progress. Recommendations include:

  • Take walking meetings. If you have a meeting scheduled with a colleague at work, even if virtual, why not see if the other person would be open to walking and talking. You could also be walking on your own if you are both virtual.

  • Use the stairs whenever possible. Obviously, if you work on the 30th floor, you may not be able to tackle all 30 flights, but you could get off a few floors down, so you would only have to walk up a few flights.

  • Walk to work (or ride your bicycle if you are able to). This is another place to think outside the box – maybe you park your car a little further away from the office or destination, and then walk the rest of the way.

  • Do your own chores/household duties. Rather than outsourcing cleaning, laundry, gardening, washing the car, cooking, and other household chores, do them yourself. All of these activities add up to some good movement time!

  • Get a dog, if it makes sense for your lifestyle. Dogs need to be walked regularly for good health too, and it can be motivating to have a walking partner.

  • Choose a hobby that requires physical movement. Dance lessons, gardening, bowling, cooking, golf, and camping are all fun choices, and if you can get outdoors for some time in nature, then that is a bonus!

  • If you are really wanting to crush this goal, then you could even invest in a treadmill desk!


When obesity is a limiting factor, this is the part of SWAP that takes some time to build up to, but this gives you an idea of what the end goal is. The goal is to push it for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, 75 minutes of vigorous activity, OR 30 minutes maximal or near-maximal activity each week. We recommend starting with a SMALL goal around the moderate-intensity, and you can always balance things out with some nice walks at a pace you are comfortable with. If you can only do 10 minutes to start – then start there!

Types of activities include:

  • Moderate-intensity activities (150 minutes per week is the ultimate goal): jogging/walking at a brisk pace, yoga, dancing to your favorite tunes, walking stairs, or riding a bike

As the weight loss progresses, and you have more energy and capabilities, you can spend less time on movement, but would ramp up the intensity:

  • Vigorous-intensity activities (75 minutes per week is the goal): running, zumba, or playing sports

Then when you are able to safely reach the maximum intensity, you could knock out your movement goals in just half an hour:

  • Highest-intensity activities (30 minutes per week is the goal): sprinting, jumping rope, or resistance training

More than this may not be necessary unless you enjoy it or have specific performance goals. Be careful not to over train, which can worsen your health rather than improve it.

Again, it is important to remember that we all have to start somewhere, and there is no judgment here. We have weight loss clients who are extremely limited on movement in the beginning of our work with them, and so the goals are small, ensuring successes early on that build confidence and motivation. Every person’s goals are individual to what he/she needs and is capable of. Nutrition is the key area we are focusing on for weight loss, and the movement goals are there to support overall health and wellness. Ready to start? We are ready when you are!

~ Jeanna

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out.” ~ Robert Collier

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