Even if you enjoy exercise, finding the time and energy to hit the gym for a 60-minute workout can be a challenge. Despite our best intentions, nearly 80 percent of us fall short of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation of 150 minutes of aerobic and strength training exercise each week.
The good news: Getting fit doesn’t have to be difficult. The trick is finding ways to squeeze more activity into your daily routine. In the process, you might even have fun.
If the idea of hitting the gym makes you want to crawl back under the covers, don’t fret. Aimee Richardson, a health coach at Henry Ford Health, has a dozen exercise hacks to help you sneak more activity into your day:
- Schedule time: Don’t just decide to exercise. Block off time in your calendar like you would for any other appointment. That way, you’ll be less likely to skip your workout.
- Find a buddy: Ask a friend to join you for a daily walk at lunch time. Make an appointment with a fellow runner to hit the track on Saturday mornings. Or schedule a Wednesday night pick-up game with a group of buddies. If you find people who like the same activities you do, you’ll be more likely to get moving. You’ll probably have more fun, too.
- Make it easy: Do things throughout the day that require you to move frequently. Park at the farthest spot in the lot, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk over to a colleague’s desk to chat instead of sending an email.
- Sign up for an event: Having a race, walk or special function on your agenda can motivate you to get moving. Runners can sign up for a 5K, 10K or even a marathon. Not a runner? Sign up for a yoga retreat or register for a summer boot camp class.
- Try something new: Exercise is often more fun when you step outside your comfort zone. Maybe your jam is Zumba or barre? Or maybe you want to try rock climbing, gymnastics or aerial aerobics? Don’t be afraid to try new heart-pumping activities.
- Gear up ahead of time: Sometimes getting dressed is the greatest challenge. Try sleeping in your gym clothes or keeping a bag equipped with workout wear in your car.
- Work out in short bursts: A growing body of research suggests exercising in short bursts can be shockingly beneficial. So while you may not be able to break away from your busy schedule for an hour at a time, you can probably squeeze in 15 minutes of exercise three to four times each day.
- Change your commute: Instead of driving to work each day, try riding your bike when the weather cooperates. If your drive to work is non-negotiable, consider parking a few blocks away from the building or taking a walking break with a colleague each day.
- Work out with your kids: Kids are often our biggest excuse when it comes to fitness. Rather than pointing the finger at your children, invite them to join you. Take them to the park and shoot hoops or play tag. Venture out on a long hike or go for a walk. Not only will you have more time to exercise, you’ll also model healthy behaviors for your children.
- Strength train in front of the TV: Instead of just sitting there or munching on chips or digging in to a pint of ice cream, exercise while you watch TV. Lunges, bicep curls and push-ups are all fair game.
- Use tracking tools: If you’re competitive or numbers-driven, inspire yourself with a pedometer or tracking app. There’s plenty of research to suggest taking 10,000 steps daily is good for your health.
- Set SMART goals: To make the most of your fitness routine set SMART goals: S (small), M (measurable), A (attainable), R (relevant), T (timely). For example, aim to walk for 10 minutes every day after dinner for one week. That goal is small (10 minutes), measurable (daily), attainable (most people can walk for 10 minutes), relevant (it’s a form of exercise), timely (for one week).
Sticking With It
Taking advantage of exercise hacks adds up. Every time you take a few extra steps or climb a flight of stairs, you’re doing something important for your health and well-being.
“When you tie exercise to something that you value, you’re more likely to stick with it,” says Richardson. “Use exercise as a vehicle to bond with your kids, to reflect on your spirituality or to participate in an activity that you enjoy. Then, exercise becomes a hobby you look forward to, not another chore you have to do.”
Interested in learning more wellness tricks to keep you in top shape? Henry Ford’s health and wellness coaching could be just what you need. The 12-week program walks you through every step toward better health, from visualizing your ideal life to accomplishing your dreams.
Aimee Richardson, MCHES, CHWC, CTTS, leads the health coaching program at Henry Ford Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. She is an experienced health educator and certified tobacco treatment specialist.