With work and family it is difficult for many people to find time for regularly scheduled exercise.
Going to a gym for a workout or exercising on equipment at home is simply out the question for many busy parents, grandparents and family caregivers. However getting adequate exercise is even more important when you are under the stress of caring for others.
The good news is that you don’t have to participate in formal exercise to reap the benefits of physical activity.
Doctors recommend at least thirty minutes of physical activity each day. This can be spread out across the day; it doesn’t have to be thirty consecutive minutes.
Get Moving for Your Heart’s Sake
Adding extra walking into your daily routine can help your heart and trim your waistline. Here are simple ideas to get moving without taking time out of your busy schedule:
- Make a habit of parking in the farthest parking space, rather than the closest. Those extra steps may not seem like a lot, but they will add up, burning calories and contributing to your heart health.
- Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Walking upstairs is especially beneficial for the leg muscles. Keep in mind that the calf muscles help the heart pump blood up the legs and into your upper body, so anything you can do to make them stronger is good for the heart.
- Instead of e-mailing or calling a coworker, walk to their office to give them your message.
- When you take a break at work to go the water cooler or break room, take an extra lap or two around the office before returning to your desk.
Stretch, Strengthen and Tone
You can also add a few stretching, strengthening, and toning routines to your work day.
- Try to stretch at least once an hour while sitting at the computer. Take a deep breath in and slowly exhale. Repeat. Shrug your shoulders up and down several times. Then roll your shoulders forward a few a times and backward a few times.
- Reach your arms up to the ceiling. Then slowly lower them and bend over to touch your toes. Repeat.
- Stand up and twist your torso at your waist several times.
To tone your muscles try a adding these activities to your daily routine:
- While sitting at your desk or in your car, sit up straight and tighten your abdominal muscles. Hold, release, and repeat several times.
- You can also do the same abdominal routine while standing in line at the store, post office, or bank.
- If you have a private office or corner, do wall push ups. Face a wall. Place both feet together about a foot or so away from the wall. The farther away the more effort will be required. Lean forward, place your hands on the wall and push yourself back to an upright position. Repeat several times.
- Instead of merely carrying your groceries in, try using them as weights. Grasp a bag in each hand and do a few bicep curls.
- While brushing your teeth or washing dishes rise up and down on your toes a few times; this great for the calves and helps to strengthen the ankles.
Mixing Exercise and Housework
Housework can be exercise in itself. For example, stooping to scour the tub or shower can burn quite a few calories. You can increase the benefits of housework as exercise with some simple steps:
- Try doing a few squats using your broom to balance with. Then sweep vigorously using long arm motions. Use vigorous motions when vacuuming as well.
- Walk briskly as you carry out your housework routine.
- Put some music on and work to the rhythm.
- If you have access to a clothesline, hang your laundry up rather than use a dryer. Bending over to pick up clothes from the basket and stretching up to pin them in place is good exercise, plus you will save on electricity or gas.
Gardening can be one the best and most enjoyable ways to add exercise to your day.
Stooping, bending, and digging strengthen the muscles and are good for the heart. Remember to practice good safety posture as you work.
Bend your knees when lifting and if something is too heavy don’t strain to lift it; get help or leave objects that are too heavy place.
If you don’t have a yard to garden in, even container gardening can provide relaxation and exercise.
Get the Whole Family Involved
Get your whole family involved in your campaign to sneak exercise into your day by making it fun.
- Put on some music and sway to the beat while you help the kids clean their rooms.
- Plant a vegetable garden together.
- Just play. Playing a simple old fashion game of tag or red rover, red rover with your children or grandchildren is a fun way for the entire family to reap the benefits of exercise.
- If you are the caregiver for an older adult, try to encourage them to walk around the yard with you or go window shopping together (if possible). Even if you have to stop frequently so that they can sit down to rest, you both will be getting some exercise while spending time together.
With just a little effort and creative thinking you will be surprised at how much more activity you can sneak into your day without losing any time. You’ll feel happier, look better and have more energy. Best of all so will your entire family.
What other tips do you have for sneaking in exercise during your day? The one tiny, little tip you have might be the one that really motivates someone else!