Fitness Articles

Sneak It In and Tone It Up

Fit in Exercise No Matter Where You Are

During Your Commute
Most of us spend more time in our cars than we'd like, either commuting or driving kids to and from various practices (or both!). Instead of having this time be completely passive and sedentary, make the most of it with a few simple exercises that are safe behind the wheel. The first thing you can do is throw any self consciousness out the window, turn up your favorite tunes and "car dance" your heart out—just be sure to watch the road and save your most complicated dance moves for sitting at a stoplight. If you're a female, you can also do Kegels, which help with core strength.

Sitting in the car is the perfect time to work on improving your posture. Most of us allow our shoulders to round and our heads to push forward when we drive. Instead, sit with your back straight (adjust your set back to help with that), your chin tucked in toward the tag of your shirt, and your shoulders relaxed down and back away from your ears. Try to keep your abs engaged and sit with perfect posture for as long as possible, adjusting it each time you notice you're slacking. Sitting tall is hard work and takes effort. Simple adjustments like these can also help alleviate tension as well as pain in your shoulders, neck and back.

And anyone, male or female, accomplished dancer or not, can stretch when stuck in traffic. Shoulder, triceps, neck and spine stretches are perfect for stoplights and also tame your tension; hold each for 30 seconds (or until the traffic starts moving, whichever comes first). Sure, they won't burn mega calories, but they're definitely better than nothing, especially if you tend to skimp on flexibility training! And if you really want to turn your transportation time into a workout, consider walking or biking to work or your destination whenever possible.

Getting Ready
Getting ready in the morning may seem like a weird time to sneak in activity, but you totally can. Make it part of your morning routine to do a few stretches, jumping jacks or push-ups. Just a few minutes of activity first thing in the morning can wake you up and get your endorphins going. Just be sure to start slow and easy if you just woke up, as your muscles may be tight from not moving for hours while you slept.

Try squats and lunges while you blow-dry your hair or pump out a few calf raises while you brush your teeth. I personally love to stretch in the shower, as the warm water helps loosen up muscles. It's good for you, and it feels great.

Yard Work
Mowing, trimming bushes and gardening are huge calorie burners. A 150-pound person can easily burn 200-400 calories an hour working in the yard. And for those who love power tools, just remember that automatic tools do most of the work, meaning you'll burn fewer calories than if you mowed the lawn with a push mower, for example. So when in doubt, go with the manual option. It might take a little longer to trim that tree, but you'll be getting in quite a workout and keeping your body in tip-top shape.

And don't be afraid to get creative. When working in the yard, there are ample opportunities to squat or lunge to pick up tools or do a few reps with bags of soil or mulch! When it's snowy outside, you can burn 400-plus calories an hour shoveling the powdery stuff.

Save time and get fit by making your shopping a full-out workout. Power walk through the store, and unless you absolutely have to, forgo the cart for a handheld basket. As the basket gets heavier, you can build some serious muscle carrying it around the store. Just be sure to carry the basket on both of your arms so that they both get an equal workout. And if you do have to use a cart, do some small lunges while pushing it out to your car and really use your arms to push the buggy.

TV Time
Many of us watch our favorite television shows to relax after a hard day. While it may be tempting to plop on the couch and veg, don't. After a long day the last thing your body needs is to sit down; moving will make you feel better and get you closer to your goals. Vow to do push-ups, crunches, jumping jacks or some sort of exercise during each commercial break. Performing these moves during the commercials of an hour-long show can help you burn at least 100 calories more than sitting, and you still get to enjoy your guilty-pleasure show.

Remember that while you may work out regularly, that's only a few minutes out of your entire day that you're actively moving your body, which is designed for physical activity. Squeezing in short bursts of exercise is great for beginners and experienced exercisers because it burns calories, tones muscles, strengthens your heart and helps you achieve an active lifestyle, the benefits of which are far reaching. So start thinking of more ways you can get active on the job, at home and throughout the day!
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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

    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
  • NAN130155
    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

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