Finding the time to exercise can be challenging — especially if you’re juggling work, family, and other commitments. Fitness experts recommend getting 45 to 60 minutes of exercise per day if you’re trying to lose weight, and that can be hard to fit in between fighting rush hour traffic, cooking dinner, and chauffeuring the kids to activities. But here’s the good news: You don’t have to do it all at once. Studies have shown that not only do shorter, more frequent workouts provide the same benefits as a longer session, but in some ways, they may actually be better.
If you’re having trouble fitting a gym session into your daily routine, try some of these ways to get more activity into your day.
- If you can, walk to work. A regular walking routine offers numerous health benefits and can help you lose weight.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Walk to lunch, and choose a route that takes you a little bit out of your way so you can get in some extra steps.
- Take regular breaks to walk around the office or spend 5 to 10 minutes climbing stairs.
- Stand up whenever you’re on the phone. If you can close the door, use the speakerphone and walk around your office.
- When you need to talk to a colleague, get up and walk to their desk instead of sending an instant message.
- If possible, get a standing desk. Many are adjustable so you can use them for both sitting and standing. Or you can simply place your computer on a stack of books to give yourself a break from sitting all day.
- Don’t just let the dog out in the backyard — take him for a brisk walk around the block in the morning.
- Hop on an exercise bike or a treadmill while you read or watch TV. Challenge yourself to watch your favorite shows only while exercising.
- Do standing push-ups on the kitchen counter while cooking. Place your hands on the edge of the counter and push out to tone your arms and shoulders.
- After dinner, go for a walk around the neighborhood with the family.
- Do squats and lunges while folding laundry.
- Keep a set of free weights in the bathroom, and do bicep curls while you brush your teeth.
While out and about
- Walk around the block while your kids are in music lessons or dance class. Incorporate some interval training to your walks by adding one-minute bursts of jogging.
- If you have a long wait for a doctor’s appointment, ask the receptionist how much time you have, and spend that time walking around the building.
- Walk around the field during your children’s sporting games instead of sitting on the sidelines.
- Pack your sneakers, and ask if the hotel has a gym. If not, find some fitness videos you can do in your hotel room.
- Pack a travel yoga mat and spend several minutes every morning and evening stretching.
- If you have a long layover, walk around the terminal as much as you can, and stretch well before getting on a long flight.
- If you’re traveling by car, use restroom breaks as an opportunity to take a short walk and stretch.
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Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on April 11, 2017