Move It and Lose It: 3 Ways to Get More Exercise When You’re Busy

A sensible exercise routine is a great complement to a healthy weight loss program. However, your schedule is probably already packed with work, family, and home responsibilities. So how do you fit in exercise when you’re busy?

3 Ways to Get More Exercise When You’re Busy

While it’s definitely a challenge, it’s not impossible. Here are some ways to work increased activity into your busy life.

Master the ‘Mini Workout’

When you’re pressed for time, sneaking in small ‘mini-workouts through your day is a great way to break up exercise and accumulate a higher activity level.  Here are a few ways you can add these small workouts to your busy day:

  • Add some low impact options during the day, including push-ups against a doorframe or bathroom counter before your shower, and calf raises while you brush your teeth.
  • Take a 10-minute walk before breakfast, one after lunch, and one after dinner—and voila! You’ve just walked for 30 minutes.
  • Keep simple workout gear like light hand weights or an exercise band handy to use while you watch TV. Do a few exercises during the commercials, or simply walk around the house until your show comes back on. If you have exercise equipment such as a treadmill or elliptical machine, turn on your favorite show and stride away.

Take Advantage of NEAT

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, or NEAT, describes all of your movement each day that is not sleeping, eating, or part of a structured workout. Think carrying your groceries to your car or playing with your kids—even fidgeting!

Here are creative ways to increase NEAT:

  • Stand or move around while taking phone calls. Choose a parking place at a distance from your building. Use the coffee machine, restroom, copier, or printer that is farthest from your desk.
  • Climb the stairs rather than taking the elevator. According to one estimate, climbing just two flights of stairs a day, five days a week, burns the same number of calories as a 36-minute walk—and can add up to enough calorie burn to lose six pounds in a year!
  • If you take public transportation, stand for part or all of the trip. Get off one stop early and walk the rest of the way.
  • While waiting for a child to finish a practice, walk around the field or climb the bleacher stairs.
  • Reframe housework as exercise. Set a timer and do it as quickly as possible. Making your bed, dusting, vacuuming, mopping, etc., all adds up to more calorie-burning, metabolism-boosting movement—and you’ll have a clean house.

Make free time movement time

Do your hobbies and volunteer activities involve moving? If not, consider taking up some new interests that will encourage you to get out there and move. Here are a few creative suggestions you might not have considered:

  • Playing with the pets at the animal shelter, coaching Little League, or participating in a walking event for your favorite cause are great ways to not only improve your fitness, but get involved in your community!
  • When getting together with friends, move rather than sit by exploring a museum, going, bowling, or golfing.
  • Play tag, hide and seek, throw a Frisbee, or play other active games with your kids.
  • Cultivate a green thumb. Gardening and yard work are excellent ways to sneak in more activity. Pull weeds, water, prune, mulch, plant, and rake leaves.
  • Instead of being discouraged about having little time to work out, think about ways you can move more throughout your day. And remember that all your physical activity contributes to a healthier you.