We're all busy – and that's the understatement of the year, I know. Between work, school, kids, parents, pets, whatever, there's just simply not enough time in the day to get everything done. These long to-do lists force us to prioritise our activities, and ultimately leads to something just not getting done. More often than not, that one thing is exercise.
Photo by Robert Scoble.
It's easy to see why we constantly bump working out further and further down our list of priorities. Exercising is just not as much fun as watching TV, going out to dinner with friends or catching that new movie you've been meaning to see. And of course, you can't place exercising ahead of work-related items. The same goes for family commitments – it's not like you can pick working out over dinner with your in-laws.
We all know it's good for us. We've heard the stats and figures and studies from all the great researchers and government agencies. We know that we need to exercise regularly, which is why we end up making empty promises to ourselves. "I'll jog twice as much tomorrow to make up for it", right? But how many times do you actually follow through?
The fact is, it's just too easy to come up with a reason for doing something—anything, really—instead of going to the gym. And thus, the cycle continues. Before you know it, you haven't had a good workout in weeks. But what if it was just as easy to work exercise into your daily schedule?
What if it was so easy to work some quality physical activity into your day that you'd be silly not to? Good news: it is.
Park farther away. How often will you circle a parking lot trying to find a spot as close to the store as possible? Try parking farther away to burn a few extra calories during your daily errands. If you drive to work, parking at the far end of the lot every day can really add up. Think about it this way—you can burn an extra 10 calories every time you walk from your car to the store or office by parking farther away. If you do that five times a day, it adds up to more than 18,000 calories over a year—or an extra five pounds (1 lb. = 3,500 cal)!
Take the stairs. Walking up stairs is a surprisingly high intensity activity that can raise your heart rate quickly. If you're in need of some extra exercise, taking the stairs over the elevator is an excellent way to get it. Every office or apartment has at least one set of stairs. More and more retail stores, especially those in big cities, have multiple floors connected by an escalator. Go find the stairs instead for some quick physical activity you wouldn't get otherwise.
Play with the kids. They don't even have to be your own kids, but you probably want to clear it with their parents first… The other day I was hanging out with my nephews, watching something on TV. They wanted to go play outside, so I joined them. You know what they played? Freeze tag. Twenty hilarious minutes later, I was worn out and completely drenched, but I didn't mind one bit. Kids have a ton of energy, and keeping up with them can sometimes be even better than going to the gym. The time will fly by too!
Use your lunch break. Rather than going out to lunch or just sitting in front of your computer checking the latest gossip, take a short walk during your lunch break. Just like parking farther away, it doesn't take much to make a difference. Try just going 10 minutes out the door, then turning around. That's an extra 20 minutes of exercise that you wouldn't normally get. If you manage to do it two or three times over the course of the day, you're looking at an almost an hour of exercise! Do this every other day for a year, and that's an extra 15 lbs!
Learn to love commercials. You don't have time to exercise during the day, but plenty of time for watching TV, right? Same here. But those 2-minute commercial breaks that seem to happen all too often? Those are great opportunities to get in some quick and effective exercise. Try alternating pushups, sit-ups, jumping jacks and arm circles during the commercial breaks of your favourite shows. If you're not sweating by the end of the episode then you're just not trying! The best part: this all counts as quality exercise. In fact, these are the same four basic exercises that my old boxing coach would have us do between drills every single practice. And you can get a similar workout without leaving your living room or missing a single minute of your show.
Mike Tennant is a freelance writer from Orange County, CA who focuses lifestyle topics. A recent graduate from the University of Notre Dame, Mike currently works with Air and Water Inc as an online developer and consultant helping customers looking for the best portable air conditioners.