Fitness Articles

Sneak It In and Tone It Up

Fit in Exercise No Matter Where You Are

If you think that you're too busy to fit in a full workout, think again. Plenty of research shows that small bouts of exercise can add up and provide just as many heart-healthy benefits as longer workouts. You don't even have to be at the gym or wearing workout clothes for it to count. You can squeeze in little bits of activity here and there so that even when you're too busy for a full workout, you can stay active and burn calories.

Below are simple and inventive ways to transform the must-do activities of daily life into mini-workouts.

Cleaning the House
Unless you're lucky enough to have a housekeeper, most of us probably have cleaning on our to-do lists. Instead of seeing it as a chore, start thinking of cleaning as a serious double-duty workout. Simple and easy cleaning, such as dusting, taking out the trash, straightening and changing the bed linens, can burn up to 170 calories per hour for a 150-pound person. And heavier duty tasks such as sweeping the floor, washing windows and cleaning the garage can burn more than 250 calories an hour.

To up that calorie burn even more, get creative! When scrubbing the bathtub, take fewer breaks, and scrub extra hard to work your muscles (don't forget to switch arms). While vacuuming, add some lunges instead of letting your arms do all the work. When cleaning the stove, don't just bend over; squat down to get to those hard-to-reach places. When doing laundry, use the bottle of detergent as a dumbbell and do a few bicep curls on your way out of the laundry room. Or sneak in a few push-ups on the kitchen counter before you start scrubbing. The opportunities when cleaning are endless, and how awesome is it to have both a fit body and a clean house?

At Work
We've all heard the advice to take the stairs instead of the elevator and park at the back of the lot to get more walking in, but there are even more easy ways to squeeze activity into your workday. Instead of emailing or calling a coworker, walk over to his or her office for that report you need. Or suggest trading the normal sit-down meetings (which normally also feature not-so-great pastries and sweet treats) for walking meetings. Walking meetings aren't perfect for all types of business, but the activity and break from the norm can encourage new thoughts and unique solutions to problems, making it great for brainstorm sessions.

If you have a buddy at work who is also looking to get fit, invite him or her to an active lunch break where you go for a brisk walk outside, climb a few flights of stairs or even hit the work gym if you have one. Plus, having a buddy can certainly help you to avoid office temptations (like the vending machine at 3 p.m.) and remind you to take a break to be active no matter how stressful or busy your day is.

You can squeeze plenty of activity in on your own if you don't have a like-minded coworker. Try this printable 15-minute desk workout that you can do anytime, as long as you have an open wall and a chair! Better yet, stash a pair of dumbbells or a resistance band in your drawer or locker to use during breaks or while you talk on the phone. If you have the space, play a workout DVD or one of SparkPeople's online workout videos on your laptop and have a co-worker join you. Unless you have a shower at your workplace, go for yoga and Pilates DVDs that will tone your muscles and give your mind a break from work without leaving you a sweaty mess.
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites, and A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

  • Distracted driving kills. I don't think you should dance in your seat while you're driving. - 2/8/2015 2:06:09 AM
    thanks for info - 1/26/2015 6:47:36 PM
  • Going to be home decorating.
    How do I calculate calories for scraping wallpaper?
    Hanging wallpaper?
    Painting ceilings?
    Moving furniture? Heavy housework for this one?

    Know I wont have time for daft things like walking or stationary biking too - 1/26/2015 4:03:32 AM
  • It's the little things that help you the most - 10/17/2014 7:11:10 AM
  • Very good reminders! Keep moving. - 9/1/2014 2:10:09 PM
  • Good reminders. - 6/24/2014 6:46:59 AM
  • TOTJJ78
    I can't wait to get started on adding these activities to my DAY!
    = - 6/23/2014 10:31:03 AM
  • This was a great article, because I had adopted these this week to keep my body in movement. Is there a way to capture these items in Fitness Tracker? - 4/13/2014 5:20:34 PM
    A great brainstorm session to get me thinking...thanks for the ideas. I'll approach my day-at-home differently today because of you! - 3/3/2014 11:10:10 AM
  • I read this article while watching the Miami Heat game. I decided to assign an exercise to each of the "Big Three" , free throws and anyone else on the team for each basket scored. I didn't start until the 3rd quarter and I am beat!! It's a fun way to exercise while watching TV on a Sunday!! - 1/26/2014 2:59:48 PM
    The IDEA of sneaking in little bits of exercise is a great one but the suggestions in this article are just wildly unrealistic. - 11/10/2013 10:52:46 PM
  • I like some of the ideas, but others like doing an exercise video at the work place or "car-dancing" sound unlikely.

    As for exercise & commuting: I would think the obvious idea is to park farther away from the office and get a 10 min walk. I usually bike to work - not so common in the US, I know, but no more unusual than the car dancing - or, if I commute, stand on my toes or heals for minutes at a time to strengthen my legs. (Hold on somewhere for safety, obviously!) - 11/7/2013 6:09:37 PM
  • I'm a stay-at-home mom so the cleaning, yard work ideas are great for me but I wish I could do the shopping suggestions. I NEED a cart to hold all the groceries for 6 people (we have 4 kids) and I'm usually holding my 13 month and pulling the cart full of groceries because he hates the cart and tries to jump out of it. So yes, my shopping experiences are a full work or at least I'm exhausted after I get home and all the food put away. - 10/16/2013 3:28:04 PM
  • I find when I am captive at the copier at work I do kickbacks, walk in place, knee lifts, etc. Who cares if you look silly. I do the same at home when waiting on the microwave. I need to add the commercial workouts while watching tv. - 7/19/2013 7:51:43 AM
  • Thanks for sharing. - 5/27/2013 6:39:13 AM

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