With a recommendation of at least at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week for adults, where do we find the time? How to sneak exercise into your day?
More to the point, what activities can help us accomplish this requirement when many of us are working from home and feeling just as exhausted as if we were taking the daily commute?
Of course, many/most of us are falling short of this target. I know I am. The good news is, once we pause to breathe and give ourselves a gentle nudge on our backsides, there are ways to literally sneak exercise into your day—physical activities into your lifestyle.
I find the following ways quite effective at reframing exercise and getting myself more active and maybe you can consider them too!
7 ways to sneak exercise into your day
1. Wake up and stretch
One of the best ways to begin the day is with exercise. Ideally, go for a walk or run and come back energized and eager to start your day. Oh yes. Easier said than done. And if you slept late and feel like a zombie when you wake up, you want something easy, right? Go for the easier version with this 5-minute workout as soon as you wake up. Here are some fairly easy stretches that will burn calories, ease away aches and pains, improve digestion, boost your mood and help you feel more alert. So, adjust that halo around your head and do it!
2. Enjoy Active Play Time
Kids are the best for many reasons and for the purpose of this post, especially for their love of play. Why not get imaginative with your kids and foster some active play time? There are so many games and activities that you can involve yourself in when spending time with your children.
You don’t need to make it over complicated either. Just get outside with a ball and use everyday items as markers for makeshift goals. A tennis ball or a frisbee is also a simple way of getting out and about, throwing either of them back and forth and having some friendly competition.
Alternately, you can head to a park or a field—they not only provide more space but let you introduce running games such as Tag or Red Rover. Let your children invite friends to encourage social skills and to make these games even more interesting—the more, the merrier!
Finally, don’t forget you can share some of your activities with them. This include buying them a kids bike and letting them come cycling with you or the rest of the family. I remember when we bought our son his first bike, he practically spent all his waking hours on it.
Another way to sneak exercise into your day is dusting off your sneakers for a game of basketball. Or just ball!
Keep it simple and you’ll find plenty of ways to change kid play time, into active play time for everyone.
No kids? No problem. Just grab a few buddies and pretend you are all kids.
3. Clean House
No activity list of mine can be complete without this gem. Oh, I know it is not a favorite of most people, but a few adjustments to your cleaning routine can actually help you work up a sweat and burn some calories. And it is one of the best ways to sneak exercise into your day!
Some easy tasks that can help you burn as much as 150 calories are:
- Taking out the trash
- Making your bed
- Changing the sheets
And if you are up to it and want to burn twice that, go for sweeping, mopping, window-washing, spring-cleaning your garage and so on! It is a win-win.
The main thing to focus on is increasing the pace and intensity of cleaning chores that work multiple parts of your body, like vacuuming and mopping. Up and down movements are also a good way to stay active while cleaning, so don’t forget to clean those body length mirrors or shower doors.
If you’re looking for a little more guidance, WebMD has a fantastic guide to help you get started. Try to build your house cleaning into a ongoing task that complements a part of your weekly exercise. Remember, there’s nothing like that clean house feeling.
And don’t forget yard work – you can easily burn calories in just one hour with manual work.
4. Workout at Work
So, while it may seem a little odd, you can make small adjustments to help you stay active during your work hours.
If you work in an office, breaking up work with quick exercise activities can help you break up the monotony of sitting and staying at a computer screen.
Some suggestions are:
- Walking meetings instead of sit-down meetings
- Go over to a colleague’s desk rather than call them on the intercom
- Get in some cardio with a brisk climb up a few flights of stairs
- Keep a pair of dumb bells that you can use when you talk on the phone
- If possible, maybe you can even tune in to an online 15-minute fitness workout
But that’s not all! Some popular exercises you can do in short intervals include desk dips, chair squats and calf raises. Here are some examples from The Washington Post.
5. Start an Active Hobby
Ok this one is cheating just a little bit to sneak exercise into your day, but really, what’s a better way to be motivated for physical activity than something you enjoy doing?
One of the best active hobbies you are likely to stick with is dancing. Regular dance lessons have been attributed with being able to burn between 130 – 250 calories over a period of 30 minutes. All while having fun!
Dancing also has a variety of styles from ballet to hip hop, so you’ll be sure to find something that fits your own groove.
Another fun active hobby is rock climbing. Don’t worry, you don’t have to try scaling real rock faces as there are plenty of indoor rock-climbing venues that are perfect for beginners.
Rock climbing has been touted as the ultimate full-body workout, as it forces the body in an endlessly variable series of movement.
For those lucky enough to be close to a beach and waves, why not consider learning how to surf? Not only is it therapeutic but also a hobby that has been described as a great cardiovascular exercise.
6. Sign up for an online class
Yep. Now that going out to a gym is not the best option, why not just sign up for an online fitness class? That is what I did. It was the best way to sneak exercise into my day in a structured manner and keep me committed. While I am pretty active at home and also manage a 45 minute to one hour walk every day, I find it easy to find excuses to skip the walk. So, I enrolled into a fitness class at a time convenient to me and I am loving it! It motivates me to stay active,
7. Just Walk To It
Every time you head out, ask yourself if you can walk to it. It is as easy as that to sneak exercise into your day! Long, sustained walking over an extended period can do wonders for your health. Think about the times you take your car.
If you need to pick a few things at the store, walk there instead. Carrying a few small items home also adds to your walking workout routine.
If you catch public transport to work, consider getting off at an earlier stop and walking the rest of the way. Listen to music, podcasts or audio books while walking and you’ll barely know you’re doing exercise.
And finally, if you watch TV, use those commercial breaks to get in a short burst of exercise.
When you commit to finding time to exercise and staying active, you burn calories even as you work to keep your heart healthy. The rewards are long-term. Also, you’ll find yourself being more productive!