Did you know that simple movement like walking your dog or taking the stairs at work counts as exercise? That’s right! You don’t have to spend all your time huffing and puffing in the gym or always work up a huge sweat to get enough movement in your week. In fact, as long as you get in at least five hours of exercise per week, it’s not so important how you do.
Fitness experts used to believe that in order to be fit and healthy, you had to get your heart rate up to a certain point for 20 minutes at least three times a week. But the most recent research is showing us that this just isn’t accurate. For example, researchers at the University of Utah recently found that small amounts of movement and exercise all throughout the week can lead to improved health. They found that even small amounts of exercise for a few minutes here, like taking the stairs, or a few minutes there, such as parking at the far end of the parking lot, contributed to the total minutes of health required in a week. In other words, there really isn’t a “20 minute minimum” like we used to think.
So now that we know this, how can you incorporate more small amounts of exercise into your day? Like we said, the ultimate goal is to fit in at least five hours of exercise each week… and it can be fun finding ways to get it in any form!
It’s helpful to think about the types of movement or activities you already do throughout your day, then find ways to bump those up a little. How can you make them more active?
If you’re drawing some blanks or need some more inspiration, here are some great suggestions we have for adding more movement into your life:
Ideas for Including More Exercise Into Your Day
Whether you’re working, hanging out at home, watching the kids, or doing errands, there are opportunities for more movement around every corner. Use these tips and choose several you can start doing now!
Exercise Ideas While at Work
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Instead of calling or emailing a co-worker about a question, get up from your desk and go ask them in person. Even if their desk is just a few minutes away, that extra movement adds up over time!
- If you’re talking on the phone, get up and walk around the room during your conversation.
- Stand more. Think about purchasing or asking your boss if you can have a standing desk. If you’re the boss, consider making this an option for your office.
- Walk to a place for lunch instead of driving there.
- Fidget. Don’t be afraid to move in your seat while at your desk. These tiny movements, such as tapping your foot on the floor or moving side to side in your chair, actually add up.
- Do a few yoga poses in your office during your lunch break.
Exercise Ideas While Shopping
- Walk to each store. You might need to drive to your shopping center first if it’s too far from your home, but then try to run your errands on foot as much as possible.
- Use grocery bags instead of a shopping cart. You’ll be giving your arm and leg muscles a nice workout with the extra weight as you carry the groceries around the store and then walk them out to your car.
- Park far away in the parking lot so you can walk a little extra.
- Go to the mall and power walk while you window shop.
Exercise Ideas On Your Commute
- If you take the subway or the bus during the day, plan to get off at a stop earlier than you normally would. You’ll have a chance to walk a little more before getting to your destination.
- Do calf stretches while you’re sitting on the bus or practice contracting your abs while driving to work.
Exercise Ideas for During the Day
- Go to the park. Take your kids or other family members and spend an hour or two in the evenings (or on the weekends) throwing a frisbee, playing volleyball, or anything else you might enjoy together.
- Go for a morning or evening stroll with a friend or family member.
- Take your dog for a longer walk than usually around your neighborhood or at the park, giving yourself a chance to look around and enjoy nature.
Exercise Ideas While at Home
- Dance! That could be alone in your living room (no one has to see!) or going out dancing with a partner.
- Walk, jog in place, or use a home treadmill or home stationary bike while you watch your favorite TV show or movie.
- Turn your chores into extra exercise. Instead of taking the car through a carwash, wash it by hand. Instead of cutting the grass with a riding lawn mower, use a push mower.
- Spend time working in your garden. You’ll be able to enjoy the nature around you while also getting in some great cardiovascular exercise with all the digging, planting, raking, and weeding.
- If you’re watching TV, get up to change the channel or the volume each time instead of using the remote.
- Do some sit ups, pushups, or pull-ups. The first two are easy to do anywhere, and pull-ups bars are an affordable online purchase. You can add a few of these into your morning routine, before you go to bed at night, or even in between cooking dinner at home.
Some of these seem really simple, but think about how much it can all add up over the course or a day—and a whole week! You’ll be surprised how effortless it can feel once you make some of these things a habit.
You’ll also likely notice some physical and mental benefits of the added exercise, such as an improved mood, more alertness during the day, and increased strength in your legs, arms, or core.
When it comes to exercise, the best tip is to find types of movement you enjoy to incorporate into your days. Not only will you have fun staying active and getting in your five hours a week of exercise, you’re also much more likely to stick with it when you actually like what you’re doing!