How many of you have read articles or listened to blips on the news about exercise? All you need is 45 minutes a day, five or so days a week! That’s simple enough, right? WRONG!
Who is going to leave the house a mess, drop the kids somewhere, and run to the gym for 45 minutes every day? If you’re like me, you won’t. No matter what our lifestyles, adding yet another “to do” on the never-ending list can feel overwhelming. No matter how good exercise feels (or makes us feel eventually), it can seem like an insurmountable task to add it to our already-busy day.
So we find ourselves at the start of a new year with a real dilemma: longing for better health and knowing we should exercise, but we just don’t know how to add it into our real-life routines.
Here’s how I add exercise without adding to my to-do list: by adding extra movement into everything I’m already doing, from transferring the laundry to deciding where I park my vehicle.
Doing laundry is an easy way to get a full body workout. I do squats as I pull clothes from the dryer, a few pieces at a time to make it last longer. When I carry the basket of clothes across the house, I lift it up and down to work my arms.
When I wash dishes I make a point to “suck in” my stomach and hold it as tight as I can for as long as I can. You’ll notice after a week or so that you are getting better at this and your stomach muscles are tighter. This is also how I tone my stomach. (I despise crunches and sit-ups, so any way I can avoid those is an added bonus!)
For those of us with children, we’ve surely noticed that most children’s shows end with music and the characters moving along with it. Why not join in the activity? Your kids will think it’s hilarious to see their parents dance, giving you brownie points, and your increased heart rate counts as cardio. Try moving with your kids a few times a day and you will certainly feel a difference.
We live in a rural area, so walking for exercise is easy. We like to walk to our red barn, which is about a quarter mile away. I encourage my two-year-old to run so that way I can walk at a faster pace to keep up with her little legs. She thinks we are both running, so it works out great! Once we’ve made the round trip back to the house, we’ve walked a half mile and she is ready to take her nap without a fuss (major bonus for me!).
If you live in a more populated area, you can walk more by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking at the end of the parking lot when you go out. The extra steps add up. Consider using an inexpensive pedometer to count your steps each day; compete with yourself (or make it a family contest) to reach a certain number of steps each day.
Red lights are for more than waiting your turn to go. Ladies, stoplights are a great place to do kegel exercises! You don’t have to worry about keeping count, since we all seem to hit every light on the way to the store anyway. Strengthening the pelvic floor is a great thing for all women (especially mothers) to keep in mind, and kegels are a simple way to mark that off the list.
Remember that as long as you are moving, you are exercising. You’ll need to purposefully add the extra movement at first, but it won’t take long before you do it subconsciously. It takes extra movement to get your blood pumping and help boost your energy, but just 10 minutes of cardio exercise will start to burn fat.
Just wait until someone catches you pumping your laundry basket up and down and asks what in the world you are doing!
How do you build physical activity into your daily routine? Share your strategies with us!