Do you wish you were more active, but have trouble fitting a workout into your busy day? Between work, family, commuting, and household tasks, it can be tough to find the time to exercise. These tips and tricks will help you get moving even with a full schedule and balance your to-do list with taking care of your health.
How Much Exercise Should you Get?
The most important part of any fitness routine is to get moving. It’s recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes per week of medium-intensity aerobic exercise, or at least 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise. The surgeon general also suggests that you get at least 30 minutes of medium-intensity activity per day for at least 5 days a week. This amount of time can seem intimidating, but experts agree that increasing your physical activity by any amount will be good for your health. Breaking this time up into several shorter chunks can make it easier to incorporate in your day, so even if you can’t find 30 minutes or an hour for a full workout, you can still sneak in 5 to 10 minutes of activity between tasks or on your lunch break.
Exercise at Work
One of the best ways to add physical activity to your day is to do short bursts of exercise at your desk. One- to five-minute workouts quickly add up to meet your daily exercise goals, and you can fit them in between phone calls, meetings, and other tasks. Some exercises you can do at or near your desk are:
- Running in place for 1-minute bursts lets you do cardio with limited space — for an added challenge, try raising your knees with each step
- Lunges: You can lunge in place, with one foot in front of the other and bending your back knee downwards, or take lunging steps down the hallway. Lunges work both as a stretch for your hamstrings and for building and strengthening your glutes and quads.
- Calf raises can be done anywhere. Simply life your heels about 2 inches of the ground until you’re standing on your toes, then slowly lower your heels so your feet are flat on the ground. This exercise works to strengthen your calf muscles and stretch your ankles. It can also help improve your balance.
- Taking short, brisk walks throughout the day will break up long periods of sitting. Try taking an extra lap down the hall or around the room when you go to get coffee or use the copier.
- You can do squats or wall sits while you’re on the phone. Both exercises build core strength and strengthen your glutes and quads.
- Try doing a few calf-raises or balancing on one foot when you’re standing in line, or pacing while on the phone.
Adding movement to your workday can make you feel more alert, energized, and focused, and can help you avoid afternoon slumps.
If you’re worried about what your coworkers will say, invite them to join in! It’s often easier to work out regularly with a buddy, and if more people at your job are incorporating fitness into their work day, it will be easier for all of you to make your workplace more fitness-friendly.
Track Your Progress
Using a fitness tracker or pedometer can help you monitor daily activity like your mini workouts and motivate you to move more. Linda Arslanian, the director of rehabilitation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has found that fitness trackers can provide “accountability, accuracy, and motivation” for your fitness routine. Fitness trackers record and chart your activity and progress, so you can check in each day to see how much you moved. They are also more accurate than just estimating or guessing your level of activity, so you can be held accountable to your exact numbers for the day.
Being able to track your activity during the day can motivate you to be more active. You can set specific goals for your number of steps or minutes of activity, and compete against yourself to improve. Wearable fitness trackers and phone apps are within easy reach so you can check them and be reminded to move throughout the day.
As fitness tracker records will show, when you’re trying to increase your daily physical activity, anything counts. Look for ways throughout the day to get moving as part of your routine. In addition to taking the stairs more often, parking your car at the far end of the parking lot will help you get more steps in. Both of these are something you would do anyway, getting to your desk or apartment and getting in to work, and you can easily make them more active. Other ways to make your daily activities more active include:
Doing bicep curls with your grocery bags when you bring them inside will help you build muscle.
If you’re lucky enough to work close to home, try turning your commute into a walk or bike ride once a week. Every step counts so if you can do this multiple times a week you’ll see results sooner.
Spend active playtime with your kids. Playing sports or tag or going on a walk with your kids is a great way to spend time together and keep your kids entertained. It will also keep all of you active and moving and help them develop healthy active habits.
Anything that gets you moving is a great way to get started with your fitness goals. By adding movement and mini workouts to your day, you’ll start seeing health benefits and be more likely to avoid health risks caused by inactivity. You may even feel more motivated to take on more intense workouts.