Sure, you know you should exercise. But if it’s a struggle to find time to work out, join the club! While health recommendations suggest that we aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity every week—the equivalent of five 30-minute walks—plenty of us find it difficult to make that fit into our busy lives.
In fact, “lack of time” is the number one reason given for not exercising—but that doesn’t mean you should give up on fitness.
Instead, take a new approach—sneak “microbursts” of activity into your day. Research shows that even short amounts of activity help you improve your health, manage your weight, and simply feel better overall. and you’re likely to stick with them because they don’t require a lot of extra time.
Your fitness mission—and we hope you’ll accept it—is to take a stealthy approach to fitness with these sly (and simple) techniques:
Sneak in Fitness at Work
♦ Set a timer to go off every 30 or 45 minutes. When it goes off, get up from your chair and stretch or do jumping jacks for one minute.
♦ Take the stairs whenever you have the opportunity, and take the long way around your building for a few extra steps.
♦ Every time your phone rings, stand up and do a few calf raises.
♦ On your feet most of the day? Aim for a quick set of squats several times a day. With your feet under your hips, bend your knees as if you’re going to sit in a chair behind you, keeping your knees behind your toes. Pause when your thighs are parallel to the ground (or as deep as is comfortable), return to starting position, and repeat.
Sneak in Fitness at Home
♦ Watching TV? Turn commercial breaks into fitness breaks and do push-ups or crunches during them.
♦ Challenge your kids to a plank contest. Lie on the ground facedown with your hands next to your shoulders. Press your body up so you’re on your hands and toes. Hold the position, breathing normally, for as long as you can.
♦ Take a few minutes to pull weeds, rake leaves, or sweep your sidewalk. (Bonus: You’ll boost your home’s curb appeal!)
♦ Tackle that to-do list. Paint the bathroom, organize your closet, or clean out your garage.
Sneak in Fitness at Play
♦ Keep a jump rope handy. It’s a full-body exercise that’s fun for kids and adults alike.
♦ Toss a Frisbee or softball outside♦ for a few minutes with your kids.
♦ Take a walk or bike ride through a park or neighborhood you’ve never explored before.
♦ Instead of going out for dinner or drinks, invite your friends to play pool or go bowling. Or host a cookout and set up outdoor games like cornhole (“bags”), croquet, or volleyball.
Sneak in Fitness on the Road
♦ On a car trip? Stop every hour or two to walk and stretch for a bit.
♦ If you’re flying, check your bags or slip your carry-on over your shoulder and take a brisk walk through the terminal before your flight.
♦ Do some squats or lunges in your hotel room while you’re getting ready in the morning.
♦ At your hotel, ask for recommendations for nearby restaurants, and walk there for lunch or dinner.
You’re never too busy to live healthy. Have fun, be creative and get fit.
Laurie Thompson is an athletic trainer for Floyd-Polk Medical Center