Get Fit 24/7
It's a lesson most of us have learned firsthand: When we count on getting to the gym or outdoors when we "have time," we set ourselves up for failure. Says Linda Lewis, Shape fitness editor: "You must plan fitness into your day or it won't happen. That even goes for me, and I'm a trainer!"
But, besides setting aside a specific block of time to exercise, there are also many ways to easily get in more exercise. With a few simple moves, you can burn more calories, improve strength and flexibility, and get healthier all day long. Here are some of the ways to sneak more fitness into your day:
1. Break your e-mail habit. Instead of typing a message, walk to your boss's or co-worker's office as much as possible and deliver the news in person.
2. Window-shop at lunch. Brown-bag a healthy lunch, and spend the time you would've spent waiting to be served at a restaurant window-shopping or running errands instead.
3. Take a midafternoon walk break. Rather than visiting the vending machine when an energy slump hits, slip outside and take a brisk walk for 15 minutes. Do it just four out of five days, and you've added an hour of exercise to your week!
4. Stretch. Hamstring muscles get especially tight while sitting at your desk, and can lead to lower backache. Do this hamstring stretch: Stand, bend your right knee and shift your weight as if to sit back, straightening your left leg, heel on the ground, and lifting your toes. Hold for 20 seconds; switch legs.
5. Do two chores at once. "Put dinner in the oven first and do the laundry while it cooks," notes Lewis. "Or make an extra-large meal for leftovers later in the week." Either way, you're freeing up another hour of workout time.
6. Really walk the dog. Instead of the usual, speedy poop-scoop, take him on a 15-minute walk -- good for you (and for him). Twice a day equals a half-hour of exercise.
7. Clean your home. If a grungy floor doesn't move you to do some weekend cleaning, maybe this will: You'll burn about 215 calories* cleaning (vacuuming, mopping, etc.) for just an hour.
8. Go for a sunset stroll. Walk off some of your dinner: Even a leisurely, 30-minute walk burns approximately 140 calories.
On the commute
9. Pump your own gas. Forget full service. Get out of the car to pay, pump and wash your windows down.
10. Bike to work. Turn your commute into a workout: If you live within cycling distance of work, ride. Keep a week's worth of clothes and your shoes at work, some toiletries to refresh, and drive one day of the week to ferry dirty clothes back home and to drop off fresh shirts, etc., for next week. You can burn an extra 236 calories a day with a 20-minute ride each way.
11. Make exercise a family event. "If I don't have a sitter, the kids exercise with me, with modifications, of course," says Lewis. "For example, I'll run while they ride their bikes beside me." Take them ice-skating, or take a surfing lesson with them.
12. Get off the sidelines. "The kids' soccer, gymnastics or T-ball practices are great blocks of time to get in exercise too," says Lewis. First, consider coaching your child's soccer or swim team: You'll run along the field or poolsides, a great workout in itself. Or, try to get together with another team mom and take a kickboxing or yoga class while the kids practice.
*Calorie-expenditure approximations are based on a 130-pound woman. If you weigh more, you'll burn more calories.