13 Ways of Staying Fit When There's No Time to Exercise

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: Barbara K. Hecht, PhD

While looking at an article by a leading fitness guru, I was struck by her emphasis on making exercise a priority and finding a way to fit in your gym time at any cost. Although she's right in principle, those of us who are balancing multiple roles -- as parent, worker, spouse, volunteer, household manager, etc. -- often find that 24 hours per day simply aren't enough. Fitness gets put on the back burner.

Even if you're lucky enough to be able to set aside time to work out, things like school holidays, childhood illnesses, and workday crises have a way of eating up these extra hours along with our best intentions.

You may not have time to go to the gym, but you can still be physically active and boost your metabolism by using a bit of creativity in planning your day. During a recent week when my kids were sidelined by a nasty cold, I started thinking about ways to be physically active when going to the gym was out of the question. I also asked some personal trainers for their advice. We came up with the following ways to fit exercise into a packed-full day:

  1. If you've got a young sports enthusiast in the family, play along. Shooting baskets and kicking a soccer ball around the yard are great ways to get your heart pumping. Thirty minutes of cardio training are recommended, but even five to 10 minutes will elevate your energy and speed your metabolism.


  2. Take the kids for a walk or just go by yourself. If their pace is too slow, add some lunges, jumping jacks, or running in place every few minutes to make yourself work harder.


  3. Pull young children in a wagon through the neighborhood. Or give them a ride in a jogging stroller.


  4. Let little children ride bicycles or tricycles while you jog behind.


  5. Get into some vigorous sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming. These types of housekeeping chores can burn a significant number of calories.


  6. We've all heard the benefits of taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Everything you've heard is true.


  7. Likewise, getting off the bus or subway a stop or two before your destination on a regular basis adds up to a lot of heart-healthy walking.


  8. Do yoga or Pilates while you, or the kids, unwind in front of a movie. While watching TV, do push-ups or sit-ups during commercials. Even one per commercial during a two-hour movie can give you some good exercise.


  9. In a sedentary job, take your breaks outdoors and have a brisk, short walk. You'll also improve your concentration and mood.


  10. Dance or do aerobics at home. No one is watching, anyway. If you like, include the little ones and turn it into a game.


  11. Practice stretching or light yoga moves while talking on the phone, listening to the news, or while dinner is cooking.


  12. Find the high-energy items on your to-do list and tackle these when you need physical activity. Think about washing the car, digging the garden, mowing the lawn, or reorganizing a closet.


  13. Get up 15 to 30 minutes earlier than the rest of the family and use this time for a run, a walk, or some stretching and yoga.

Reference:

eMedicine, Exercise Prescription, http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/88648-overview


Last Editorial Review: 9/9/2009



STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!