I always thought I needed to allocate a huge block of time to exercise in order to lose weight—a couple of hours each day. Who the heck has that time, especially after punching the clock, doing Mom duties, et al.?
As much as it would be nice to have the luxury of a huge block of time to exercise, it can be accomplished in bits throughout the day—as I learned from my trainer. It’s just a matter of changing your perspective and challenging yourself to sneak what you can throughout the day.
Here are some tips:
Distance/step challenge. If you haven’t already, get a step tracker (I use FitBit Surge and love it!). It’s a great way to see how much you actually move (or not) during the day. You can compete/challenge your friends or set a daily goal for yourself and the tracker will let you know when you meet your goal. Start off with 5k steps and build up in 5k increments. My daily goal is 10k, which is still a lot harder than it sounds.
Post-meal walk. After eating and before going back to work or doing the dishes, take a quick 5-10 minute walk. Why? Think of it as a way to get your digestion started—warming up the engine, so to speak. If you succeed in doing 10 minutes of walking after each meal, guess what? You’ve already met the daily minimum recommended 30 minutes of exercise (some experts recommend a minimum of 60 minutes, but let’s aim for small victories first).
Water challenge. Drink water on the hour and you’ll have to get up to go to the bathroom within the hour. Not only will you get in steps to get water and walk to the bathroom, but you will drink water, which is integral in helping you lose weight.
Multitask while doing chores or watching TV/videos. Shimmy, shake, and bust a move while doing the dishes, vacuuming, folding/putting away laundry. Practice your stretches and squats while putting dishes, pots, and pans away. During commercial breaks or boring segments, do plies, jumping jacks, lunges, mountain climbers, planks, sit-ups, leg-lifts, hip bridges with arm presses, sun salutations, and more.
If you have a treadmill, elliptical machine, or stationary bike, you can use it while watching TV or Netflix on your phone/tablet. At first, I was beating myself up thinking that it wouldn’t count if I’m not focusing, but guess what? The moment I started watching my Netflix shows while on the treadmill, the weight started coming off because I was moving. An hour flies by quickly.
See the world as your gym. Park farther away so you have to walk a little more to your destination. Take stairs instead of the elevator or escalator (stairmaster/climber). Skip steps when taking stairs or escalator (lunging). Use the indoor mall as your indoor track/gym. When carrying heavy packages or bags, think of them as your free weights/kettlebells. Focus on engaging your core, trunk, arms, and legs when you lift. Who’s to say waiting for the train is boring when you have your laptop bag as your kettlebell?
Make the most of your sedentary/waiting/phone time. While waiting in line at the checkout, carpool pickup, or in traffic, challenge yourself with micro-movements such as kegels, deep breathing exercises, flexing/releasing abdominal muscles, shoulder rolls, neck rolls/stretches, arm/shoulder stretches, wrist or ankle rolls/bends, feet flex/point.
If you’re not shy, you can do exercises while standing around and waiting. Use your laptop bag or tote to do some lifts. Work your core/hips/legs/glutes with some ballet movements en quoi (front, side, back, side). Work on your posture using the wall.
Do some stretches and movement while on a conference call or while talking on the phone or being on hold with customer service.
Exercise while shopping. Even a grocery/shopping cart can be an exercise machine. It can be used to help stretch out shoulders (hinge from waist and bend forward while extending arms). You can engage core and thighs/quads as you push a full cart throughout the store like Costco. A shopping basket is a great makeshift weight/kettle bell. You can work your arms, lats, and trapezius while waiting in line or even while carrying your grocery throughout the aisles. Do a few bicep/tricep curls with the gallon bottle before putting it in your cart/basket.
Remember, it’s up to you to make time to exercise. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a two hours at the gym with heavy weights, circuit training, hardcore cardio classes. For someone who’s sedentary, it will be easier to make small changes little by little, and eventually these changes do add up. Classes and one-on-one training sessions will be valuable for getting ideas on the type of movements you can incorporate every day. And there’s always YouTube which has tons of exercises for free.