10 Ways to Fit Your Workout in on Even Your Busiest Days
Moving your body, even for short amounts of time, is one of the most important daily habits for your health. Every workout doesn’t have to be a sweat-inducing marathon of activity. Especially for those people who are short on time, quick exercises throughout the day are a great supplement to occasional high-intensity workouts. Everyone should make time for physical activity, but for those periods of time when you can’t seem to squeeze in an ideal fitness routine, it’s essential that you don’t become completely inactive.
The number of completely sedentary Americans dropped from 28.3 to 27.6 percent in the last year, according to survey results from the Physical Activity Council, but this is still far too high. And that’s not the only bad news.
The American Heart Association notes that sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950, and on top of that, the average workweek has grown longer. Between work, family, and everything else that comes up in life, Americans are busier than ever, yet more sedentary than ever as well. We could all use some help finding ways to squeeze in physical activity, so here are 10 simple ways to fit more exercise into your schedule.
Whether you’re lifting weights at the gym or power-walking around your neighborhood, chances are there is a way you can accomplish something else on your to-do list at the same time. Many gym-goers watch TV or listen to music or podcasts while on the treadmill, and some will even bring a book or make a grocery list while on the elliptical. Walking is one of the most underrated forms of exercise, and one of its many benefits is that it’s easy to multitask. You can make phone calls while walking, bring the dog along, or even squeeze in some in-person socializing with a workout buddy.
2. Do your chores
Most people don’t think of doing laundry as a workout opportunity, but some of the most banal household tasks include some built-in physical activity, however minor. Gardening and cleaning can be more intense, so if part of your hectic schedule includes chores like these, don’t discount their benefits. Get in the zone as you scrub the floor, and your heart rate is sure to get a good lift.
3. Turn your commute into a workout
A long commute in the car means you’ll be spending a lot more of your day immobile, and worst of all, sitting down. Between running, walking, and biking, there are plenty of active modes of transportation out there. In a city, jogging might even get you home from work faster than the subway. Alternatively, you can try getting off the bus or train a few stops early and walking the rest of the way.
4. Work out at work
A workout in the middle of your workday is great for both your health and your productivity. For the times when you can’t get away from the office long enough for a true exercise break, Gregory Florez, personal trainer and CEO of Fitness First, suggests keeping dumbbells or exercise tubing at your desk. “Squeeze in 12 to 15 reps of exercises like dumbbell curls, overhead presses, and ab crunches; aim for two or three sets of each,” he told Fitness. “This gives you more free time to fit in fun workouts like biking or tennis.”
5. Walk to nearby stores
Finding opportunities to walk is one of the best strategies for busy people trying to keep their bodies in motion. If you have a long list of errands, consider what you can accomplish within walking distance. You might end up carrying a couple bags of groceries for a bit of a hike, but your body will thank you for the extra exercise.
6. Park far away
Unfortunately, this classic piece of advice often goes ignored. Instead of driving around looking for the closest spot, park your car as far away from your destination as you can handle. If you’re worried about time, turn this long walk to the store into a high-energy power-walk. You’ll manage to get some steps in quickly, so next time you pull into a parking lot at a supercenter, remember this great opportunity to stretch your legs.
7. Take the stairs
If you have the option and it’s a reasonable distance, always opt to take the stairs over an elevator. (Just beware of office stairwells that may lock you in!) Parking on the upper level of a parking garage and running the stairs is another way to squeeze in exercise and get your energy up. A 185-pound man can burn almost 180 calories by climbing stairs for 20 minutes, and just a few minutes per day of stair-climbing can improve the health of your heart.
8. Exercise in line
Standing in line doesn’t have to be the painfully boring experience most people dread. It’s actually a good opportunity to sneak some movement into your busy day. Instead of feeling stiff and impatient, revel in the chance to squeeze in a few stretches, squats, or lunges while you wait. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Your day is your own, and your body needs to move.
9. Do yoga on a plane
Whether you are traveling by subway, train, bus, or plane, yoga is your best friend. It’s hard not to be sedentary when you travel, but yoga gives you the tools to create physical activity even when you feel like you can barely move. The ancient practice is great for travelers because it requires little to no equipment and provides the added bonus of reducing stress and anxiety. If you travel frequently for work, you know how hard it can be on the body and the mind, so memorize some yoga sequences and poses you can turn to whether you are waiting for a cab or cramped on an airplane.
10. Do jumping jacks
As previously mentioned, it’s important not to discount the quickest of workouts. Simple exercises like jumping jacks are a great go-to because you can do them almost anywhere. And if you do them frequently throughout your day, these exercises can add up to decent workout at the end of the day. Burpees are another great activity if you want to get your heart pumping in a hurry. Pick one or two of your favorite mini-exercises to keep in your back pocket. That way when you have a couple minutes to get moving, you’ll know exactly how to give your body the boost it needs.