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How to sneak exercise into your everyday routine

Instead of hitting the snooze button, many disciplined people wake up early every morning to hit the gym before work. Some manage to carve out time during the day or get in their reps or a run before bed. But for others, it’s hard to find the time to squeeze exercise into their busy days.

Maybe that’s because they think they need a solid hour to exercise, never mind the time to get to the gym and back again, shower, dress, etc. But what if you just did a little bit here and there? Everyone is out and about doing other things all day long so let’s look at some ways to keep moving even when you don’t have time for your regular routine.

After all, something is much better than nothing. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that “one continuous session and multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes) are both acceptable to accumulate desired amount of daily exercise.” So there you have it!

“Some people are scared of the gym or not in the mood to do formal exercise, and that’s fine,” says Ivy Larson, an American College of Sports Medicine certified Health Fitness Specialist from Jupiter, FL.  “There are ways to be active that seem more like play than work.”

And the benefits are the same, says Larson, co-author of “The Gold Coast Cure: The 5-Week Health and Body Makeover” (Health Communications Inc., 2005).  Being physically active for at least 30 minutes, five or more days each week not only helps you look and feel better, it can reduce your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and prevent and even reverse type 2 diabetes.

Remember, she says, you’re not only doing it for yourself.  “Being an active role model for your children will teach them the joys and importance of exercise for a lifetime lesson.”  So make exercise a daily habit.  It’s never too late to start.

Here are some ways to fit fitness in beyond the gym:

1. Be a kid again

Let loose and join your kids by kicking a soccer ball, tossing a Frisbee, or swinging a hula-hoop.  They’ll love your involvement and you’ll not only have fun, but get fit, at the same time. Remember: play can be exercise just as much as a treadmill and weights.

2. Get in the groove

Dance to wake up each morning, before bed, or during commercials.  Put on some oldies and teach your kids the swim, the twist, or even the hustle.  Then let them show you today’s moves.  Rock out to the latest Katy Perry hit while you wait for the pasta water to boil.

Vigorous dancing gets your heart rate up and can burn 150 calories in a half-hour – the equivalent of an ice cream cone.  And if you boogie with baby in your arms, you’ll tone your muscles just like lifting weights.

3. Move more

Help your digestion, catch up with your kids’ lives and end your day on an up note by taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood with the family after dinner. It will enable you to bond and burn all at once.

4. Don’t just sit there

Instead of just parking your body on a bench while your kids have all the fun, get moving yourself.  Larson does a 30-minute circuit of laps, crunches, lunges, push-ups, and curls with small weights while her son builds sandcastles at the beach or climbs the jungle gym at the playground.  When your older kids are playing in the tub and you are just there to supervise, put down that magazine and do some crunches. (But always monitor young children at all times.) I even do some leg lifts when I’m waiting for an elevator or a bus, not wanting to waste a minute when I could be slipping exercise in.

5. Make yourself walk

Park at the furthest parking spot at the mall so you’ll get a good walk in. Take the stairs when you can instead of an escalator. Get off a stop early when you ride the subway to work. Do a few laps around the office when you’re feeling the mid-afternoon slump instead of reaching for a snack.

Have you found some great ways to sneak in your exercise?  Let us know.


·         ACSM Recommendations:

·         The Gold Coast Cure: The 5-Week Health and Body Makeover (Health Communications Inc.)

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