We are all busy.
Even I, who has built a career out of shooting down “I don’t have time to workout” excuses, have days where my schedule is so jampacked there aren’t enough minutes in the day for a full workout. While it is sometimes a valid excuse, it is still an excuse, and excuses are meant to be busted.
While nothing takes the place of a focused, intentional workout, sometimes you just don’t have the time. Don’t let your busy schedule get in between you and your fitness goals. Little bouts of exercise throughout the day can add up, and while we may feel as though every minute of the day is scheduled, there are plenty of opportunities to fit in a little fitness.
Here are 10 ways you can sneak in a workout during your busy day.
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1. Leave dumbbells at the bottom of your stairs. Each time you walk up the stairs, carry those dumbbells with you and leave them at the top. When you head down, take them with you. Don’t have dumbbells? Use milk jugs, fill a backpack with books, sling your child over your shoulder or even scoop up the family pet. The more weight, the better.
2. Do 10 squats every time you use the bathroom. We all go multiple times a day, so you might end up getting in more squats than you would at the gym. The more hydrated you are, the more squat breaks you can take, so drink up.
3. Keep hand weights or resistance bands in your office and set an hourly timer. Each time the timer goes off, do a set of upper body exercises like bicep curls or shoulder presses. Your boss will thank you, too; studies show, the fitter the employee, the more productive they are.
4. Take the stairs whenever possible. Twice, if you can. Stairs are great for getting your heart rate up and really target the legs and glutes.
5. Walk and talk. If you have a phone call to make, get up and pace. Every second you don’t spend sitting, you are improving your health.
6. Do calf raises while standing in line at the bank, store, coffee shop, etc. If you don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself, squeeze your glutes. It’s a lot less obvious, but I say, who cares? Make all those flat footers feel lazy.
7. Squeeze your abs tight while sitting at red lights. To engage the core, pull your belly button into your spine and bear down. Remember to breathe throughout. You should never hold your breath while exercising. It’s easy to hold your breath during isometric holds because you tense everything. But you need the oxygen.
8. Upgrade your work station. Instead of sitting still all day, swap out your chair for a balance ball. Simply being off balance engages your core muscles all day long. They’re pretty fun, too, so you’ll probably find yourself bouncing around a bit, which brings more muscles into the mix and burns more calories all day long.
9. Practice proper posture. When you stand and sit up straight, not only do you look more confident, you also burn more calories as the muscles in your neck and back are constantly engaged. When you slump, they go unused.
10. If you’re winding down from a long day with a little TV, do crunches or jumping jacks during commercials. They are built-in exercise breaks.
Kelly Turner is a fitness expert and freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter: @KellyTurnerFit and Instagram: @KellyTurner26