Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to find time to work out the recommended 45-60 minutes a day. And let’s be honest, who really has an extra hour just laying around, and if you did, is exercise really what you would do with it? But, if we want to improve our physical health, we truly should be more active than we currently are. With that in mind, how can we infuse our day with smaller doses of physical activity and reap some benefits without having to carve out an hour or more at a time?
Well, I did a little research and found some good news. Studies show that people who worked out for 10 minutes at a time multiple times throughout the day actually lost more weight than those who exercised for an entire hour (and happened to remain fairly sedentary the rest of the day). With that in mind, here are 15 ways to squeeze in more small intervals of exercise.
Around the House
→ While brushing your teeth in the morning, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, raise up on your toes for 2 seconds, then lower and repeat. Then do a series of squats during your bedtime brushing.
→ While making dinner, you can place your hands on the kitchen counter or table and do a modified plank or push-ups.
→ If you find yourself sitting in front of the tv, try lifting one leg parallel to the floor and holding for 5-10 seconds before lowering it and repeating with other leg. Continue alternating legs for an entire commercial break. During the next set of commercials, grab some dumbbells and give your arms a little workout.
→ When tidying up your house, if items need to be put away upstairs or in a different room, do it right away instead of collecting items and delivering all at once. It will take more time, but the steps will add up.
→ Dance while drying your hair. You can even sing into your hairbrush for a solo if you’re bold enough. It will get your feet moving, your blood pumping, and lift your spirits all at the same time.
→ Stand while talking on the phone. To help create this habit, move your phone so you have to get up to answer it. If you have a headset, or your cord is long enough, you can even walk while you talk.
→ If you need to connect with a colleague, skip email and the phone and actually walk to his/her office. You might even suggest you walk together while you discuss your business.
→ Create a few different work stations within your office. Set your calendar and notepad on top of a tall filing cabinet (or on a crate on top of your desk), so you can stand and write notes. Create some storage areas for often-used items close to the floor so you need to squat regularly to access them. Raise your computer and/or monitor by placing it on a few books, and then perch on a tall stool to type.
→ Get rid of the garbage and recycling bins in your office. Then walk to the nearest (or farthest if you are so inclined!) receptacles when needed.
→ Take a smaller water container to work. That way you need to walk to the water station to refill it more often. Or if you have access to a refrigerator, keep your water in a gallon jug, so you have to lift the extra weight to refill your small glass.
Out and About
→ Park on the perimeter of the parking lot. Those extra steps on a regular basis really make a difference.
→ Take the stairs whenever possible. (When traveling, request a room between the 5th and 11th floors and forget the elevator all together.) You could even opt to climb stairs when you don’t need to. It is a quick heart-pumping workout. In fact, Padma Lakshmi, the host of Top Chef (one of my guilty pleasure shows), admits she climbs up to 70 flights of stairs a day to help battle all the food she eats during filming. I can’t even imagine that many stairs, but it’s definitely something to strive for!
→ Take your reusable bags to the grocery store. They are not only green, but also hold significantly more weight than the plastic grocery bags. Then ditch the grocery cart after checkout and carry your bags to the car (remember the one you parked at the far edge of the parking lot).
→ Whether attending a child’s sporting event, an outdoor concert, or a parade, leave the chair at home. You are likely to walk around more, or at the very least, shift your weight from foot to foot.
→ If you find yourself waiting at a doctor’s office, to be seated at a restaurant, or for a store to open, take a quick walk around the building. Feel free to ask for an estimate of your wait time, and let them know you will be outside.
I know not all of the above will fit into your schedule, but hopefully there are a few to fit everyone’s lifestyle. If you are serious about increasing your movement, print out the list and hang it up or stick it in your planner. Challenge yourself to see how many you can tackle this week, or even today. Maybe even challenge a friend to see who can do more!
Do you have other ways you incorporate exercise into your regular routine? You might not think it’s anything special (because it’s normal to you), but it might be that one tip that makes all the difference to someone else.