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.

Resources:

·         ACSM Recommendations: http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/news-releases/2011/08/01/acsm-issues-new-recommendations-on-quantity-and-quality-of-exercise

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

10 Ways to Act Like a Kid That Are Good for the Mind, Body and Soul

Kids have fun. They run, skip, hop, jump and twirl freely. They play tag. They dance, even if they don’t know the right moves — who cares, as long as it feels good?

As we get older, we forget what it’s like to be a kid. Kids let their hair down almost all the time (except when adults tell them not to). They’re carefree. Most of them aren’t stressed out, checking their smart phones every minute. They know how to kick back, relax and have a good time.

Reverting back to childhood occasionally — to the days when you didn’t worry about your hair or your heels and would actually go play in the rain — is not only fun and joyous; it’s also good for your mind, body and soul. Play keeps you in shape and is the ultimate stress reducer. It helps boost your creativity and productivity, and reduces the risk of high blood pressure and hypertension.

Remember the proverb: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Play makes you happy (did you ever notice how often kids smile?). So give yourself permission to take a break, play like a kid and reap the benefits. Here’s how:

1. Go to recess. It’s time to step away from the computer and move. It’s important to stretch and flex and not sit in one position for too long, and wasn’t recess always your favorite part of the day? Take a few laps around your office, apartment or backyard; bounce a ball or just do a few deep knee bends, especially if it’s late afternoon and you’d really rather take a nap.

2. Hula hoop like Michelle Obama. The first lady is on a campaign to get kids moving, so why not adults, too? Make like her and spin a hula hoop around those widening hips. You’ll add some joy to your day and maybe even lose an inch or two over time — hooping is actually a full-body workout capable of burning up to 600 calories an hour.

3. Reminisce. Remember those games you loved from your childhood. It may be time to dust off Twister and bring it out after your next dinner party (just be careful not to send anyone to the emergency room; we’re not as flexible as we once were!). Or try jump rope, hopscotch, Frisbee or even a rousing game of dodge ball.

4. Get your groove on. Dance more. Isn’t that what the music during commercials is for? Get up and cut a rug during every commercial one evening, and soon you’ll be enjoying ads more than ever.

5. Head to the playground.  They don’t have to be just for kids. Hop on a swing and see how high you can get pumping your legs up and down. Recapture that feeling of freedom from flying in the air, and get a great leg workout in the process.

6. Play in the snow.  So what if you get cold? Wear long under wear. Make snow angels, have a snowball fight and take a few runs on a sled. It will get your heart rate running, and make that après-snow hot chocolate taste oh so good.

7. Make lemonade. Even if life isn’t giving you lemons. It just tastes good, and it’s reminiscent of childhood. Put some fresh mint in it… or add a splash of vodka (hey, you are an adult after all).

8. Move outside. Blow bubbles and chase them. Catch lightening bugs, or skip while holding hands with someone you love.

9. Build a sand castle. Spend the day digging and fortifying until you have something you’re proud of. Then let the waves bring it down — or have fun stomping on it to your heart’s content. A day like that will strip away the stress in your life and help you focus better when you’re back in the office.

10. Be silly. Don’t worry about what others will think.  Dress up in a funny costume and take a walk; buy a bunch of balloons and hand them out to all the kids you pass; eat ice cream for dinner one night. Just have fun doing the things you enjoyed once upon a time, or the things you wish you could have done.

What makes you feel like a kid again? Tell us how you get your inner child back, and how it helps you deal with life.

Resources:

Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul, by Stuart Brown (Avery, 2009)

http://stress.about.com/od/funandgames/qt/play.htm

http://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/1094/.

National Institute for Play, www.nifplay.org