Fitness Articles

Sneak It In and Tone It Up

Try to Fit in Exercise No Matter Where You Are

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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

  • There are definitely some good ideas here. However if I tuck my chin down towards the tag in my shirt I'll have to spin my head around so I'm facing backwards. This would probably be a poor choice when driving. ;)
    - 11/22/2015 8:12:34 PM
  • I don't "save" trips up and down the stairs from the kitchen to the downstairs entrance, I make any trips necessary, rather than save up the recycling or what ever it is, composting, I just make the trip, knowing that if I don't use it I will lose it!!! - 11/1/2015 6:51:04 PM

    A good workout can be a great thing for both body and soul. I recommend something I liked a lot. It gives me the opportunity to do workouts at home.
    It is a workout system developed by Cosmopolitan.
    You can start it free. http://lookingups
    n-fitness-workout/ - 10/23/2015 5:30:54 PM
    I agree with the comment that car dancing could be dangerous and distracting, but one could do butt squeezes to tone that area. Also, while sitting at a light, press your hands against the steering wheel from each side until the light changes.
    I can't see how a person could get any work done at home if they put the laundry away one piece at a time! - 9/5/2015 10:48:44 PM
  • A personal thanks to those who choose the articles to share with your readers. Thank you for repeating the articles to us. I know you have shared this one before but it is just as valuable now as it was the first time I read it. They are great reminders, they still motive and some points are remembered that I completely forgot. The plus is that you now let us "repeaters" earn points when we read it again. Because of you, I have stuck with becoming healthy for a long time and I am close to my goal. Feel soooo much better both mentally and physically. - 9/4/2015 9:20:23 AM
  • The suggestion regarding shopping can attract the negative attention of store security, as they are often times trained to look for anything out of the ordinary, but their fears are easy to dismiss once they discover your power walking for exercise while shopping - 8/20/2015 9:39:31 AM
  • I do squats and lunges while waiting for the microwave. It's not a lot but at least I know I get 3 sets of squats in per day on top of my normal exercise. - 8/20/2015 7:04:44 AM
  • I agree, most of these are activities and not exercise...howeve
    r, the greater good lies in simply moving. Each day I try and find ways to be "effectively inefficient" to get more steps in. Like seriously, who walks over three and a half miles in her house? This girl...who can put away laundry
    me! Crazy stuff I know, yet it makes a difference...and drives my husband nuts when he watches me do this on the weekend! Ha - 8/18/2015 7:16:07 AM
  • Bad Posture - still fighting it, but when I was in PT for bad back, I was told to cut a pool noodle, tape a towel around it, and use it vertically behind my back at work to force shoulders back. The noodle is too wide for my car, but the Dollar Store has rolls of bubble wrap that fit in my car seat perfectly. May not be aerobic, but it helps my posture a lot. Plus had shoulder surgery, so doing a lot of scapula squeezes and exercises that help posture too. - 8/8/2015 1:05:37 PM
  • These are good "activities". But, according to the SparkPeople article "Hard Truths About Exercise", this is not exercise. The article states you must do a total of 60 min. of cardio exercise in your target heart range or it's not exercise. - 7/19/2015 10:48:55 AM
    I have started doing calf raises while I'm drying my hair and brushing my teeth in the morning. These little bouts of movement help wake me up and get me ready for the day. I love listening to music while I clean and try to dance a little too! - 5/29/2015 8:38:55 AM
  • I don't agree with this. Multi-tasking is not good for our brain, psyche, and stress level. One thing at a time. Be in the moment! - 3/24/2015 12:12:55 PM
  • Great ideas. We tend to forget that almost every thing we do could be turned out into a workout but eating and sleeping. - 3/5/2015 8:58:02 PM
  • 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

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