5 Ways to Sneak Exercise Into Your Busy Day
As a personal trainer and life coach, I often see clients struggle to fit their workouts into a busy day. Life gets in the way: Maybe they worked longer than expected, something came up unexpectedly, they’re tired, or they got injured.
What I’ve noticed is that clients who take an all-or-nothing approach don’t do any exercise if their schedule changes. They say things like, “I couldn’t get to my yoga class on-time so I didn’t exercise that day.” Or they say, “I hurt my foot so I can’t exercise for a few weeks.”
Perhaps a more realistic, and helpful approach for busy people is to find ways to get some activity in during the day.
Here are some tips to workout no matter what comes your way:
1. Ten minutes is better than nothing.
Instead of an hour-long workout, you can break it up by doing 10-minute bursts of physical activity throughout the day. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, both approaches (continuous, or in spurts) are just a good for your health. The recommended amount of exercise is 30 to 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, five days a week, or 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise three days a week.
2. Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
Using stairs is a great work out for your lower body, and walking up stairs gets your heart rate up, so it is heart healthy too. Challenge yourself to take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators. Every little bit adds up, and before you know it, you’ve worked out for 10 minutes.
3. Take a brisk 20-minute walk.
To be considered heart healthy, your heart rate needs to be in your target range for 20 minutes. A very general guideline for target heart rate is: 200 – your age = Maximum Heart Rate. Take 50 percent and 80 percent of your Maximum Heart Rate to get your Target Heart Rate (beats per minute). If you’re pressed for time, consider taking some calls on your cell phone and going for a walk.
4. Perform some chair/desk exercises.
Exercises like leg lifts, calf raises, squats, and push-ups (using a wall or desk) are effective in getting your blood flowing and moving your body when space is limited. Remember, sitting all day is like smoking a pack of cigarettes for your heart. So challenge yourself to find time during your day to move.
This can actually increase muscle strength by 19 percent. It also promotes flexibility in your muscle, reducing risk on injury and muscle tightness.
If you injured your foot, focus on upper body or core (abdominal and lower back) exercises. If you have a shoulder injury, you can still do lower body exercises. Stretching is also a great way to get movement while you are seated.
Keep in mind that exercising increases muscle development, and muscle burns more calories than body fat. In addition, muscle tissue protects joints and improves bone density (which helps prevent osteoperosis and bone fractures). So be good to yourself and get moving!
Cindy Goulding is a licensed professional counselor as well as a health and wellness coach and certified personal trainer. She is the author of Healthy Weight: It’s a Family Affair. Her website is victoriousmcg.com.