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9 Tips On How To Sneak A Workout Routine Into Your Day

By Heather Levin

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), almost 70% of Americans are either overweight or obese. And according to a poll conducted by USA Today and Harris Interactive, 30% of overweight adults thought they had a “normal” weight, and 70% of those classified as obese felt they were merely “overweight.”

It’s clear from this poll that “overweight” is becoming the new norm. After all, if 7 out of every 10 people we see on the street is overweight, it’s easy to lose sight of what a healthy adult should look like.

The problem with this mindset is that carrying around excess weight brings with it a whole host of problems: heart disease, diabetes, an increased risk of cancer, fatigue, the list could go on. Not only is being overweight not good for you, it’s also not good for your wallet. The more overweight you are, the more you’re going to spend to treat all these medical conditions.

Although most people groan when they hear the word “exercise,” there are plenty of ways you can sneak exercise into your day while still saving money with a a cheap or free workout routine. Take a look at these 9 tips and try to work them into your own life regardless of whether you’re skinny, overweight, or obese.  We can all benefit from exercise!

1. Park Far Away

Why go with the closest parking spot? Save those for families with young children and the elderly. Instead, park at the other end of the lot and walk to the store.

2. Move!

You can dance around when you’re heating up water for tea. You can do wall squats while waiting for your soup to heat in the microwave. You can jump up and down during commercial breaks. And you can do crazy leg kicks while brushing your teeth.

Every time you catch yourself standing still, for anything, do a crazy move. Tense your abs or butt. Touch your toes. Jog in place. Dance. Do karate chops. Mimic Prince in “Purple Rain.” Do anything to get your body moving. And the best part? You’re going to have way more fun than if you just stood still.

3. Office Workouts

You can tone your butt at your desk. Think I’m kidding? I do it everyday. Simply squeeze and release. Who doesn’t like a toned butt? You can also do this with your legs and arms.

What else can you do at work?

  • Do 60 second jumping jacks in your office or cubicle.
  • Simulate jumping rope for 60 seconds.
  • Sit up straight in your office chair, on the edge, and resist the urge to sink back in. Tense your abs and butt repeatedly.
  • Do squats at the copying machine.
  • Shadow box (Bad boss? Then go to town here!).
  • Keep one small weight in a drawer and do arm lifts throughout the day.
  • Always take the stairs.
  • There’s also a great comprehensive list of desk exercises over at WebMD.
  • Forget email and IM. Get up and go talk to the person.
  • Use your computer to sound an alarm every hour to remind you to get up and move around.

4. Love Your Chores

Raking, vacuuming, washing windows…do these with vigor and you’re killing two birds with one stone. When I scrub my bathtub, I really scrub it; this works my arms and abs. When I sweep, I really use my arm muscles. When I vacuum, I tense my arm and leg muscles. All these movements and tension burns extra calories and helps tone muscles.

5. Get a Dog

I have three dogs. And if they don’t go out for exercise every single day (rain, sleet, or snow), then they start bouncing off the walls. To preserve my sanity, I have to go exercise them. Dogs force you to get outside whether you like it or not, which is why having a dog can be a great way to sneak exercise into your day.

6. Get An Exercise Ball

Sitting on an exercise ball at your desk (either at work or in your home office) is a great way to tone your abs. I’ve done it in the past and love it! It also helps keep you more alert and awake during the day.

7. Make Yourself Take Extra Trips

I live on the third floor and there isn’t an elevator. So getting my groceries up three flights of stairs to my apartment is a chore. And instead of loading myself up with twelve bags of groceries, I take extra trips. Being inefficient actually means I get more exercise. And, I’ve actually learned to enjoy the movement of climbing the stairs with the extra weight.

Go up the stairs to get to your office. Or walk to the side of the moving escalator at the airport. Do whatever you can to force yourself to make extra trips. All these “conveniences” in our society, like elevators and escalators, actually just mean we’re getting less exercise.

8. Use Line Time

I hate standing in line. But this is time you could be using to your advantage!

When I’m in line, I entertain myself by standing on my tippie toes and then going back down rapidly, tensing my muscles and working my calves. Sure, I get weird looks sometimes, but who cares? If you do this, your shins will also get a good workout. And besides, you’re never going to see those grocery store people again anyways!

9. Take Up a New Hobby

Sign up for flamenco dancing. Take up karate. Go bird watching. Start a garden. These are all fun hobbies that will sneak more activity into your day.

More Great Tips:

  • If you’re waiting for a flight, walk around the terminal. You’re going to be sitting for the next three hours anyway!
  • When you’re on the phone, walk around or do squats.
  • At the grocery store, opt for a basket instead of a cart when doing lighter shopping. Tense your arms and repeatedly lift the basket in front of you and then back down.
  • Use the bathroom on another floor of your home or office.
  • Wake up 20 minutes early and work in some movement first thing in the morning.
  • Keep hand weights by your TV. Lift every time the commercials come on. Situps are also great to do during commercial time.
  • If you want to lose weight, you need to add at least 12,000 steps to your day. Sounds like a lot, but break it down. Every hour, take a break and walk 100 steps. Pedometers can really help with this. Some phones can even track your steps throughout the day.
  • Check out these other tips for cheap and easy healthy living.

(Photo credit: lululemon athletica)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a freelance writer based in Detroit, MI. She's passionately committed to living green, saving money, and helping others do the same in their life.

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  • http://www.retireby40.org Joe

    So does it work? I thought food intake counts a lot more toward your weight than these activities. I guess every little bit helps.

    • Heather Levin

      Joe, Every little bit does help! Our bodies are designed to move and be active, so slipping any kind of movement into your day is better than nothing. :)

  • sariahsue

    I think you need to rework your math. If you take 100 steps every hour for 12 hours you’ll get 1,200 steps, not 12,000.

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