It can feel overwhelming when you’re trying to make time for exercise. Here are some tips I give my physical therapy patients… and how I manage to keep myself moving.
I get it. We’ve all said, “Who has time to exercise when you’re a…”
Just fill in the blank: working parent, working night shifts, entrepreneur, student, person who commutes, or parent who stays at home keeping children alive. You’re not alone in trying to figure out how to fit exercise into your day.
As a mama and physical therapist who owns her own business, I have to schedule my exercise time — otherwise, it won’t happen.
Over the past 11 years, I’ve realized the I’ll-work-out-later approach doesn’t work for me. I have to block time out of my day to exercise so I can stay sane and maintain my health and strength.
And here’s another tip: Try adding in a few bonus activities throughout the day and week to keep your body moving. Just a few extra minutes of movement here and there really do add up over time.
Here are 10 ways to move more during everyday life, without having to block more time out of your busy schedule!
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1. Take the stairs
I know. This is so boring, and you’ve heard it a bajillion times. Yet, it’s one of the best tips for a reason.
Taking the stairs instead of the elevator increases your heart rate, helps with balance, and improves lower-extremity strength. If you’re feeling saucy and have a few minutes, you can even do some heel raises off the edge of a step for calf strength, or take the stairs two at a time.
Skip the elevator, your body and heart will thank you.
2. Incorporate walking meetings
If you work from home or have transitioned to virtual conference calls, schedule a walk during one call per day.
If you don’t need to be staring at a screen looking at spreadsheets, plug in your headphones, slip your phone in your pocket, and solve the world’s problems on a walk. It’s a great way to mix up your daily routine.
And if you work in an office, take your one-on-one meetings to go. Walking together enhances team bonding, and you may even come up with better ideas. Research shows walking boosts creativity and enhances mental acuity (1, 2, 3).
3. Lunge it up
I do this a lot, and I get funny looks sometimes, but hey — I’m a busy woman, and my time is precious!
When you’re shopping, try walking lunges down the supermarket aisles while holding onto the cart. The cart offers a good balance point, and you can get about 10–20 lunges in a single pass, depending on how long your supermarket’s aisles are. Go for it, it’s surprisingly fun!
4. Sit on an exercise ball
Swap out your office chair for a stability ball. This can help with back pain and help improve posture, and while sitting on the ball, you can do some gentle mobility stretches for your neck, pelvis, and spine.
Try a hula-hoop motion and tucking and untuck your pelvis to help fire up your core stabilizers. If you want to add in some abdominal work, you can also try seated marches or other exercises on the ball — all while sitting at your desk!
5. Park far away
While we need to be safe and alert to our surroundings, if you’re in a safe and well-lit area, consider parking further from the entrance of wherever you’re going. Adding in a few minutes of walking time here and there adds up over time and can increase your daily step count!
6. Have more sex
Yup, you’re welcome. Some older research states that sex burns calories at a rate of about 3.1 calories per minute for women and about 4.2 calories for men (4).
So although it’s not the same as a vigorous jog, you can (for sure) work up a sweat during sex. Have fun, try new positions and techniques, and bond with your partner all while moving more.
7. Foster a pet
Our local shelter and other adoption agencies are always looking for volunteers to help. Take the family to the shelter and volunteer to take a few dogs for a walk.
You get to increase your time outside, help a dog and your community, teach your kids about caring for others, and spend some quality family time being active and moving your body. It’s a win-win-win for all involved.
8. Have a dance party
Clear the furniture from the room and put on some tunes. You can do this while cooking dinner, folding laundry, or vacuuming.
Dancing is a fabulous way to burn calories and work on your balance and coordination. Plus, you can make it a game or contest with your kids. They need to learn about 80s rock, right? Put on some ACDC (or whatever makes you tap your feet) and get shakin’.
9. Switch up your game night
During your next family game night, swap out cards or board games for active games.
Here’s a list to jog your memory: hide and seek, kick the can, scavenger hunts, Twister, freeze dance, potato sack races, pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs, hopscotch, jump rope, hula hoop contests, limbo… the games you once played as a kid are just as fun to play now.
Games like these can be played with people of any age, as well as indoors or outdoors. My family has a blast playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Freeze Frame Dance Party, and we all are sweaty and tired afterward.
10. Exercise or stretch during TV time
I know this goes beyond all tenets of “binge and chill,” but hear me out. Walk on the treadmill, use a stationary bike, stretch on the floor, use weights for upper- and full-body strengthening, or do Pilates during your next Netflix sesh.
If you watch a 30-minute show and move the whole time, that’s 30 minutes of exercise you didn’t have before! You can even limit it to when the commercials come on if that feels like a good place to start.
Keep your exercise stuff near your “binge-watching” place, and do some bodyweight exercises or even foam rolling during your show. Just a few reps of bicep curls, tricep presses, or arm raises with light hand weights will make a huge difference in your arm strength, posture, and well-being.
This is especially true for women, who are at a higher risk of osteoporosis. Incorporate weight training into your routine to keep your bones healthy and strong (5).
The bottom line
I hope these ideas will motivate and inspire you to get up and move a bit more throughout your day.
I know how difficult it is to maintain a good routine. It can seem overwhelming when you first start to exercise, but trying a few of these things will help.
Start small by adding in a few lunges here and there, a walking meeting once a week, or stairs a few times, and before you know it, you’ll be movin’ and groovin’ much more than you were before.