Experts recommend that adults get a minimum of 150 minutes a week (a little more than 20 minutes each day) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. They also recommend strength-training that works the major muscle groups at least two days a week.
If sweating it out at the gym doesn’t appeal to you, or if your day to day life makes it challenging to fit in any amount of cardio or strength training, we have good news for you: there are other ways to boost physical activity outside of regular workouts. With a little creativity and motivation, you will find that there are a surprising number of ways to sneak exercise into your day.
Here’s even more good news – you don’t need to do all of your physical activity all at once. According to studies, activity can be done in bursts of as little as ten minutes. This is perfect for those who struggle to find 20 or 30 minutes to themselves each day. Short bursts of activity are much easier to come by and can be worked into the day at times that work for you.
Try some of these tips below and make the world your gymnasium.
Take the Scenic Route
An easy way to sneak more exercise into your day is by using your body rather than taking easier alternatives. Ride your bike instead of driving, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther away in the parking lot or get off the bus or subway at an earlier stop and walk the extra distance. It all adds up!
Utilise Your Lunch Hour
Rather than taking lunch at your desk, use your lunch hour to get active and get some fresh air. Go for a walk or run some errands. Eat your lunch mindfully whilst walking. If you have time and access to a local studio, slip in a Pilates, spin or yoga class – many studios have lunchtime classes that are 60 minutes or less. No studio? Use a park bench or do some pushups, sit ups, jumping jacks or squats! You may not want to return to work a sweaty mess, but a little burst of intense physical activity will help move your energy and help you stay focused for the afternoon ahead too.
Talk Rather Than Email
Whenever possible, get up and have a conversation with your co-workers instead of instant messaging, emailing, or calling them from your workstation. We have become very lazy in our communications! If you’re talking on the phone, grab your headphones and walk while you talk.
Propose Walking Meetings
Speaking of walking while talking, make your work meetings an opportunity to catch up while you wander. Getting a change of pace and scenery can also help with creativity and ideas so it’s a win-win.
Take Breaks From Your Desk
We all know that sitting is the new smoking! Taking breaks is essential throughout the day. If you are sitting, that also doesn’t mean you need to remain stationary the whole time. Get some hand weights and do bicep curls and overhead extensions while reading email or talking on the phone.
Utilise Other Stationary Moments
Whenever you’re waiting in line or waiting for public transportation, use these pauses as an opportunity to move your body. Flex your abdominal muscles, or do some squats, leg lifts, or stretches. You may get a few sideways glances but who cares – you may also inspire others to join you!
Create Your Own Happy Hour
Look at ways you can reinvent happy hour to make it involve an activity. Get your friends or work colleagues together for a game of Frisbee, soccer, volleyball, or any other team sport, which can be followed by a celebratory drink if you wish! Or grab your best friend at the end of the week and try a yoga class or long walk in nature together, to catch up and unwind after a long week.
Clean & Lean
Doing housework can be a great workout! Move vigorously through your house as you vacuum, sweep, dust, and scrub. Outside, use a push mower instead of a power mower. Wash the family cars by hand, rather than taking them to the car wash. Finally, skip the landscaper and do the yard work and gardening yourself.
Get Tech Savvy
If you tend to get distracted by your daily tasks, set an alarm to remind yourself to get up and move. Additionally, block out fitness time slots in your calendar and set digital reminders so you observe them. Consider these fitness times as equally important as your other meetings and obligations. Training apps for phones have also become very sophisticated and easily accessible over the past few years, and many of the best apps are under $5 or even free. You can have a full workout at the touch of a button and can usually select your duration, intensity and preferences to customise your workout. Ten minutes is better than zero minutes!
Use Your TV Time
If coming home and binging on Netflix is a common scenario for you, utilise the time by squeezing in a workout while you watch. If you have equipment, set up a treadmill or bike in front of the television. Alternatively, clear a space where you can do floor exercises, lift weights, or do leg lifts with ankle weights while watching.
Play With Your Kids
If you’re a mum, find ways to involve your kids in your workouts. Play in the park with them instead of just watching from the sidelines, play ball with them, create games to share, run about at the beach or garden. If you want to do yoga at home, try getting your kids involved too. Get creative with how to enjoy time with your kids and make it count as a workout!
Get Acquainted With Interval Training
Research suggests that people who exercise at maximum capacity for about ten minutes can have similar health gains as those who do moderate exercise for longer periods of time. Interval training can be quite intense and physically demanding, however it is also very efficient and effective! Try a Google search for some ideas or use YouTube for some short, guided high-intensity workouts. These can be great if you have a napping baby or 15 minutes before school pick up.
Stuck in meetings and dying to get up and get moving? Tap your toes, play with your pencil, and swivel your chair. Sound crazy? It might, but fidgeters can burn around 108 extra calories daily just from refusing to sit still. If you’re not a natural busybody, try bouncing your knees up and down from your chair, shifting your weight from side to side while standing in line, or tapping your fingers on your desk while you brainstorm.
Have Equipment on Hand
Minute for minute, jumping rope burns more calories than nearly any other cardiovascular exercise out there. Stash a jump rope in your desk drawer or in the car and whip it out when you have some spare time to kill! Think of all the idle moments you have in the day where you reach for your phone; these can all be used productively with some simple equipment like a jump rope or small hand weights. Keep a yoga mat in your office or at home too for when you have time for some simple stretches or sun salutations.
In a nutshell, there are many ways in which you can modify your day to be a little more active. There are lots of ideas above, and as you start to make small changes, you will see new ways in your own daily routine that can be creatively used for fitness purposes, from raking leaves to lifting grocery bags, taking the stairs or lifting up your toddler for more cuddles. Break up the 30 minutes that you would love to move each day into small easy sets and see the difference it can make.
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