When it comes to exercise, we focus on how to get fit. Our New Year’s resolutions are about working out more often, and we set goals to challenge ourselves in miles, reps, or weights. But then real life kicks in, and we realize we don’t have 60 minutes to spare during busy days. Going on a run feels impossible, much less adding in the commute time to get to the gym. The truth is that getting fit isn’t the problem; it’s staying fit. Can you keep up your health goals and find time for yourself, even when your to-do list is overflowing and your schedule is overbooked? The answer: absolutely. Be your own #fitspo with these eight easy hacks to fit in movement, even when you have no time to work out.
1. Maximize daily activities
You don’t have to fit in extra time to work out. Instead, you could move more during the activities you already do. For example, take your dog for a walk or play fetch instead of just letting them out, and take out the recycling in multiple trips to get your step count up. You can also make use of downtime by stretching while watching TV and doing squats or jumping jacks on every commercial break. And if you don’t even have time for walks or watching TV (but what’s life without Bridgerton!?)? Do some calf raises while brushing your teeth, try push-ups before you get in the shower, and dance around the kitchen while cooking.
2. Fit in multiple movement sessions of five minutes or less
Blocking out an entire 60-minute session might seem impossible when glancing at your daily schedule, but five minutes (or even three)? Now that’s doable. Try to scatter a few different five-minute breaks into your day to get some movement in. For example, fit in five minutes of yoga while your coffee is brewing, try some of these short workout videos in between meetings, and get another 10 minutes in when you wrap up your workday. Without even knowing it, you could easily fit in 45-60 minutes of movement in easier-to-manage increments throughout the day.
3. Wake up (and go to bed) 20 minutes earlier
So you swear you don’t have time to work out during the day? Then make more time. Since time is an illusion (no, really), get in control of it by giving yourself more. Even waking up 20 minutes earlier will help you feel like you have a lot more time in your morning and throughout your entire day. But because sleep is just as important for your health, that also means getting to bed 20 minutes earlier too. Turn off Netflix, put away your laptop, and prioritize an earlier bedtime so you’ll feel well-rested and motivated getting up earlier in the morning.
4. Turn chores into a workout
Oh, you didn’t think laundry or doing the dishes could also give you envy-worthy biceps or strong glutes? Think again. Some of the most common household chores require some built-in physical activity that can work every part of the body. For example, washing heavy dishes in the sink will work your arms, squatting to pick up the laundry basket of dirty clothes will work your legs, and sweeping can work your obliques. Don’t even get me started on scrubbing the tub, vacuuming the floor, or gardening. And if you do a bunch of chores in a row, it will get your heart rate up to count as cardio. Bonus tip: turn on your favorite playlist and dance around while doing chores for a little extra movement and motivation. Your home has never been cleaner!
5. Get creative with your work setup
It’s 2021: of course, you don’t even need to leave your desk to get a good workout in. If you can, consider switching to a standing desk, and if you’re stuck with your old seated desk (boring!), try out a mini exercise bike or treadmill that goes underneath. You could walk or bike miles while you’re scoring promotions, acing presentations, and making $$$. Now that’s multitasking. And if exercise equipment isn’t your thing, switch out your chair for a yoga ball or sit on a wobble cushion to work your core.
Use technology to your advantage too. Set alarms on your phone or computer every 30-60 minutes to remind you to get up, stretch, and do some jumping jacks. Even 30 seconds of light movement every hour can make a major difference.
6. Forego conveniences
Say goodbye to your front-row parking spot, elevators or escalators, and the shortcut to get home. We’re so used to making everything more comfortable and convenient that we don’t even realize our lifestyle could be so much more active. Many “inconveniences” feel like a hassle because they require physical effort, but physical effort is just a less intentional way to exercise. If your goal is to move more, inconveniences are a good thing. Park in the furthest row, always take the stairs, stand up more during the day, and opt for the furthest bathroom instead of the closest. You’ll get your step count in and will be working muscles you wouldn’t be using otherwise.
If time is your biggest challenge and exercise doesn’t feel productive enough to prioritize (but what’s more productive than giving your body the tools to feel its best and get more energy?), then accomplish something on your to-do list at the same time. For example, do bicep curls while on conference calls or go on a power walk while talking to your mom or a friend. You can also listen to an online class or audiobook for your book club while working out to accomplish two things at once.
8. Focus on posture
If all else fails and you’re sitting at a desk 24/7, you can still be working your muscles and healing your body by simply being mindful of your posture. Proper posture not only prevents injuries later down the road, but sitting up tall with your shoulders back relies on your abs, back, and leg muscles when done correctly. Even Salma Hayek swears by good posture for her physique and, while I call bluff on the fact that she gets that toned without exercise, being mindful of how you sit, stand, and even lay down is can be incredibly effective for the body.