These little things add up to make a bigger difference than you think
No time to work out? No excuse! Sure, you might be too busy to spend an hour (or even 30 minutes) at the gym, but there are easy ways to be a little more active each and every day, even if you’re stuck in the office. So if you can’t seem fit in a sweat session, have no fear. FitOrbit.com trainer Amanda Ebner shares 10 “sneaky ways” to fit exercise into your day.
If you don't have time for a steady 30-minute cardio session, break your workout into three 10-minute segments instead!
“Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier and kick out the first one before work, spend 10 minutes of your lunch hour sweating out the second segment, and cool down your day with a final 10 minutes when you get home,” Ebner says. “The key with shorter workouts is to keep the intensity high (think running, circuit training, or plyometrics) and stay focused on your effort—this is not the time to read a magazine or take a leisurely stroll.”
Stuck in meetings and dying to get up and get moving? Tap your toes, play with your pencil, and swivel your chair. Sound crazy? “It might, but fidgeters (those who engage in spontaneous and constant minor activity) can burn around 108 extra calories daily just from refusing to sit still. If you're not a natural busybody, try bouncing your knees up and down from your chair, shifting your weight from side to side while standing in line, or tapping your fingers on your desk while you brainstorm. Those daily calories can add up to nearly one pound burned per month,” Ebner says.
Minute for minute, jumping rope burns more calories than nearly any other cardiovascular exercise out there. It is also high-impact, which means you get tons of bone-building benefits to boot.
“Whether you're at work, traveling, or just home and pressed for time, jumping rope for just 10 minutes can burn 110 calories and work up a serious sweat,” Ebner says.
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We all live and die by our calendars these days, so why not make an appointment you absolutely can't miss—with the gym!
“Trying to squeeze in a workout on an already-packed day can seem like a chore, but planning your workout ahead of time (for example, penciling in that Tuesday yoga class with your favorite instructor or blocking out 45 minutes to try that new P90X video) can actually relieve stress by making your workout seem like just another part of your busy day,” Ebner says.
Swapping out your regular chair for a stability ball is a very sneaky way to strengthen your core and lower back muscles, improve your posture, and even burn a few extra calories during your workday.
Got more time (and an office with a door)? “Add stability ball crunches, pushups, and roll-ins to your repertoire and complete 10 of each exercise every hour on the hour. You'll be feeling the burn by lunchtime!”
We all know walking is a great way to begin an exercise program, but what if you stop thinking of walking as exercise and start thinking of it as a time to return phone calls, brainstorm, or even a way to do your grocery shopping?
“Combining the simple act of walking with the ‘necessary’ tasks of your daily life makes it less of a chore and more of a logical way to complete your to-do list and get a good burn while you do it,” Ebner says.
Training apps for the iPhone or Android have become seriously sophisticated over the past few years, and many of the best apps are under $5 or even free (think Nike Training Club, MyTrainer, or MapMyFitness).
“You can have a full workout at the touch of a button without spending a ton of time trying to think up programs or download training plans. Need more personalization? Check out FitOrbit.com, an online personal training site that connects you with real-life personal trainers and nutrition plans for less than $2/day,” Ebner suggests.
Most Americans spend three to four hours per day in front of the tube—and much of that time is spent on the couch or in bed. Change up your favorite leisure activity by making it double as a workout!
“If you have a treadmill or stationary bike, set it up in front of the TV and pedal moderately during the show and vigorously during the commercials. No equipment? Alternate pushups, crunches, plank pose, and jumping jacks for each minute of the commercial breaks, then complete a series of 30 of each move at the conclusion of each show you watch,” Ebner says.
You’ll not only raise your heart rate and burn calories, but you’ll avoid making multiple trips to the kitchen throughout a single episode.
A yoga mat is one of the easiest (and cheapest!) pieces of fitness equipment to use, store, and pack, so it makes an ideal companion for squeezing in busy-day workouts.
“Free streaming yoga videos are available on YouTube, while more advanced series with top instructors can be purchased at subscription sites like YogaGlo.com. Personal training sites offer customized yoga and Pilates workouts that work on your schedule and with your ability level, and they can be printed or accessed directly from the site for a no-fuss workout in the comfort of your home or office,” Ebner says.
Woke up late and know your workout is the first thing on the time-crunch chopping block? Make up for it by using simple tricks to "amp up" your regular workday or errands into a full, heart-pumping workout.
“Start by parking as far away from your destination as possible (even better: bike or run to work!) and jogging or speed-walking to the door. Next, take the stairs instead of the elevator to your office (and continue to take them throughout the day). Use the first two minutes of each morning hour to focus on a different muscle group (for example, pushups at 9:00 a.m. for upper body, squats at 10:00 a.m. for lower body, plank pose at 11:00 a.m. for core, etc.), then take a long walk at lunch,” suggests Ebner. You can burn more than 250 calories before noon!