25 Ways To Exercise When You Barely Have a Minute
© Joan Price. May not be reprinted without permission.
You think you don't have time to exercise? Research shows that frequent short bouts of exercise have cumulative effects, and a bunch of fitness bursts confer almost the same health and weight-loss benefits as one longer session. Here are 25 innovative ways you can fit many minutes of exercise into your day--a few at a time!
1. Don't Drive to Work. Park your car at the location of a stop you want to make after work--post office, coffee house, bagel shop--rather than at your own workplace. Hoof it to work, then back to your after-work spot. If the force is with you, your car will be where you left it. Alternative: leave your car where it's easy to find parking, even if--especially if--it's a mile or two away from work.
2. Stand and Deliver. You'll feel less tired and your brain will work better if you stand as much as possible while you work or study. Take "standing breaks" at least every hour and work standing up, if possible, for 5-10 minutes. You'll burn 25% more calories. Don't lean over your desk, though--find tasks that let you stay upright, like returning phone calls, reading or jotting notes using a clipboard. If you pace as you work, you'll burn almost four times as many calories as sitting.
3. Phone Push Ups. Each time you make a phone call, do push ups against the desk while you wait for the person to answer. If you don't have a speaker phone, do one-armed push ups. Change arms with each call.
4. Jog Online. Use those annoying down times when you're waiting for a printing file or a slow-loading Web page and get up and jog, dance, or march.
5. Burn 'Em, Don't Eat 'Em. Skip the pastries and get outside. Walk around the block as briskly as possible. You'll energize physically and mentally, and do better work when you get back. At a 4 MPH pace, you can burn 100 calories in 15 minutes.
6. Pump Rubber. Keep DynaBands (stretchy latex resistance bands that work your muscles as though they're lifting weights) at work. Step on the bands and do five minutes of shrugs, squats, upright rows and lateral raises. These will wind you up better than caffeine.
7. Skip a Step. Surely you already take the stairs, not the elevator. Pump up the intensity by taking the stairs two at a time.
8. Lunge the Stairs. Do lunges up a flight of stairs. (Do not try this on the return trip down!)
9. Grin and Bear It. Offer to lift and/or carry anything that needs moving--change the water jug at the cooler, move in the new printer and carry out the old, fetch cartons of supplies for your office-mates--whatever's needed. Your co-workers will think you're Ms. or Mr. Helpful, and you'll get your exercise.
10. Drive Not Thru. Give up drive-thru windows. Park the car and walk to the bank. Even better, park in some other bank's parking lot and walk to yours.
11. Be a Bag Boy or Bag Lady. Forget rolling the grocery cart to your car. Pick up your bags and carry them. Help some elderly shoppers by carrying their bags (with their permission). If you do use a shopping cart, return it to the store from the parking lot, and pick up any additional carts you find on the way.
12. Shop Till You Drop. Park your car at your last errand, not your first, so you won't be tempted to drive from one spot to the next. If you're half-way through your errands and already carrying plenty of packages, make a detour to your car, park the parcels, then jog to the next errand on your list.
13. Ab Alert. Do isometric abdominal intervals anytime, anywhere you stand or sit. Contract your abs six times slowly (6-second rep), then six times quickly (2-second rep), then six times super-slowly (10-second rep), and repeat.
14. Subtle Butt. Isometrically contract your gluteals (rear end muscles) any time you're stuck waiting--in the post office line, at the dentist's office, wherever. You can do these sitting or standing, but if you're wearing tight jeans and the person behind you winks or grins, you may be attracting more attention than you think.
15. Crunch Each Room. Before you eat dinner, do ten abdominal crunches in every room of the house. If you have roommates, warn them first.
16. Walk a Dog. If you don't have your own, offer to walk the neighbor's dog. The neighbor will owe you a favor, and you'll burn calories, more if your dog is young, speedy and determined. Social advantage for singles: Potential dates who won't look at you in a bar will melt and make a fuss over your handsome pooch.
17. Just Do Two. So you don't have time for a full-body strength-training workout--no problem. While dinner cooks, choose one muscle group and its opposing group, and train them with free weights or DynaBands.
18. Fling Your Feet. Pull away from the TV in the evening and go dancing. Pick a hot spot where dancing wins over drinking. Depending on tempo, type and intensity, an hour of social dancing burns 230-390 calories--get out there!
19. Work the House. If you must stay home, turn on some fast-paced, motivating music and do some useful physical work. Rearrange the furniture. Turn the mattress. Pack up books and magazines to donate to the local library or hospital. Clean out the garage or that closet of clothes that were in style when you graduated from high school.
20. TV Circuit Training. Work out to your favorite TV program. Dance or jog while the program is on. During commercials, drop down for pushups or crunches on the rug.
21. Phone Sprints. When the phone rings, don't reach for the closest extension. Run for the one farthest away, preferably up or down a flight of stairs. Set the answering machine to pick up in four rings so you have to hurry.
22. Letter Aerobics. Guilty because you owe letters to countless friends and family members? Audio tape letters instead of writing them. Get on the exercise bike, treadmill or stair machine with your tape recorder in hand, and tape your news and views. More fun than laborious writing, lets you accomplish two things at once.
23. Take a Date Hike. Plan a hike and a picnic lunch at a romantic spot at the beach or in the woods. Carry all the gear yourself.
24. Curb Your Calves. Anytime you have to wait on the street for a bus, cab, street light or person, do extra-slow calf raises on the curb: let your heels hang off the edge, and contract your calves to lift to tiptoes, 4 seconds up and 4 seconds down. Tighten abs and buttocks to help you balance, so you don't have to grab a sign post.
25. Study on the Hoof. Having trouble justifying leaving your house to exercise, because you have a report to prepare, or a manual your boss said you had to read by Monday? Read the notes you have to study or brainstorm into a tape recorder. Take that taped info with you into the wilderness, and repeat the information as you listen and hike. Your mind will be more alert so you'll think better and learn faster. And the scenery beats the wall in front of your desk.
Learn more than 300 instant exercises that you can do at home, on the road, at the office, at the park, even at the grocery store in Joan's book, The Anytime, Anywhere Exercise Book