No time to get to the gym—or even into your gym shoes? One of the main reasons people don’t exercise is that they think they don’t have enough time. The truth is, you don't need an uninterrupted hour to reap the many benefits of physical activity. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends getting at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week (and up to 50 minutes for people who need to lose a significant amount of weight), but that can be spread out across multiple mini-sessions.
Below are some creative ways to squeeze exercise into your daily juggling act without dropping a single ball.
1. Make the kids' activity time your activity time. Do you find yourself with time on your hands waiting at basketball practice, dance rehearsals or another activity? Turn that down time into exercise time. Instead of reading or scrolling through Facebook, get in 45 minutes of walking or jogging—outside if weather permits, or up and down the halls of the school if not.
2. Burn calories during conference calls. Next time you're stuck on a conference call—particularly if you're doing more listening than speaking—put it on speaker, stand up and get moving. There are plenty of exercises you can do in your office, such as lunges, squats or planks.
3. Work while you watch. Who says exercise isn't entertaining? During your next Netflix binge, hit the floor or the mat for some crunches, leg lifts or lunges. If you have free weights handy, incorporate some biceps curls, shoulder presses and triceps extensions. Before you know it, you'll have done a full-body workout and caught up on your favorite shows. Check out the SparkPeople Commercial Break Workout for ideas.
4. Ignore the elevator. Whether you're at work, a doctor's appointment or the mall, bypass the elevator and hit the stairs instead. You can burn more than 100 calories just by climbing the stairs a few times a day. Plus, it helps to strengthen your muscles while boosting cardiovascular health.
5. Weigh yourself down. Burn more calories while running errands or walking by wearing a weighted fitness vest. There are thin-profile styles available that can be worn under your regular clothes.
6. Turn social hour into power hour. Instead of meeting your friends for coffee or cocktails, catch up while walking at a local track or park. You'll reconnect while logging some serious mileage—and there's no tab to pay at the end.
7. Get lean in line. Next time you're stuck in line or find yourself standing for a few moments, do some calf raises. You'll burn a few extra calories while working toward shapely legs.
8. Play. It's easy for busy parents to get into an "all work, no play" mentality—but resurrecting a childlike spirit is a great way to get moving. The next time your kids are playing tag, riding their bikes or jumping on the trampoline, join them. They'll love watching you have fun, and you'll benefit from the quick cardio boost.
9. Clean. You have to do it anyway, so you might as well give yourself some extra exercise credit. A 150-pound person will burn almost 300 calories from one hour of heavy housecleaning. Grab the vacuum and make those calories disappear! Get tips for turning spring cleaning into spring training.
10. Sit down to work out. With our seated workout videos, you can tone up and burn calories right from your chair. Speaking of sitting, consider trading your desk chair for a stability ball. Sitting on the ball works the muscles in your abdomen, lower back and hips, so you'll get a core workout while catching up on emails. Using a standing desk also burns more calories than sitting.
What are your favorite hacks to sneak exercise into your busy day?