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15 Easy Ways to Sneak in Exercise

Updated on September 15, 2014

Think You Have No Time for Exercise? Think Again!

We all know what the benefits of exercising are: A healthier heart, decreased weight, and a sexier body. The benefits impact the mind as well, such as increased confidence, a drug free mood booster, and a proven way to relax and reduce stress. I know many people who find exercising to be boring or downright unpleasant but physical activity doesn't have to be a time wasting grind at the gym. There are many easy, fun ways to become more physically active during your daily life. I will list 15 ideas for you in the following article. If you have some good ideas to suggest I will add them in with your permission. Thanks for reading and I'm looking forward to your comments!

1. Think of Exercise as an Opportunity

Exercise is not a chore, and it is not something you have to do. However, once you realize how rewarding it can be, it will become something that you want to do. Physical activity can provide opportunities for fun, excitement, and bonding. If you have a hard time getting motivated by yourself, join a sports team. People who play soccer aren't thinking about losing calories. They are having fun competing and are focused on doing the best they can as athletes, for themselves and the team. However, the physical results are killer legs and massive endurance.

Of course, you can do other types of sports, such as track & field or basketball. You can even get paid for exercising! I was in the Army for 8 years and I loved the fact that staying in shape was part of my job requirement. It was a great environment that encouraged strength, toughness, and flexibility! I had a hard time pushing my self to run when I was on my own, but I always got energized and encouraged when running with my fellow soldiers. If that's too much pressure, get active with a good friend or two. Going out to dinner or the movies to socialize is nice, but try to switch things up once in a while. How about a swim at the beach or zip lining to get your adrenaline up? Exercise can even be romantic. Take a long stroll around a lake in the moonlight with your loved one. You will feel wonderful afterwards and not even realize that you had gotten exercise in!

2. Take The Stairs During Your Daily Routine

Work on the 3rd floor of an office building? Is your class on the 2nd floor of the school? Don't take the elevator. Always take the stairs! If you do this while carrying a briefcase or a book bag full of heavy texts, over time you will develop nicely defined calves and exercise your quadriceps and glutes as well.

3. Sneak Exercise Into Commercial Breaks

Commercials aren't just played during television shows anymore, but on internet videos as well. Instead of moseying into the kitchen to procure unhealthy potato chips while they are playing, grab a bottle of water and do some jumping jacks or jog in place. After the commercials are over, you can do bicep curls while sitting down on the couch. Over several weeks, you will get stronger and you can add to the weight of the dumb bells to increase calorie burn.

4. Make Commuting Into Exercise

I walk to my college. Sure, I might have to leave the house about half an hour earlier than if I had driven, but it's a great way to get in exercise on a regular basis. I have also significantly reduced gasoline usage. This is great for the environment and my wallet as well! The other added benefit is that I get to really enjoy nature around me as I walk. I have spotted many lovely song birds and eaten delicious wild fruit that I would have missed if I had instead been speeding by in a hurry. Are there nearby places you can walk or bike to? Perhaps you could take your bike to work or walk to your local library or post office. Anywhere within 1 mile is an easy walk. I recommend taking a bicycle and checking the weather for anything 5 miles away or farther. You would be surprised how quickly your endurance builds up and pretty soon 3 miles will not seem daunting at all, and in fact you will consider it a nice stroll!

This guy's pacing outside, but you get the point.
This guy's pacing outside, but you get the point. | Source

5. Exercise While You're On The Phone

Conversations with friends or family can often last for half an hour or more. They can hear you but not see you. Take advantage of that by folding laundry or pacing around the house while you talk, which could burn a 100 calories or more. Another sneaky exercise is to assume the chair squat position. Spread your knees shoulder width apart, squat down almost 90 degrees, and hold your position for a minute against the wall. You can even do calf raises. Just make sure to stay on the bottom step and hang onto the rail with one hand for safety.

6. Park Farther Away in the Parking Lot

My fiancé often drives around in circles for several minutes in the parking lot, looking for the perfect place to park. It's a bit of a pet peeve of mine. I feel like with the time he wasted looking for a spot, we could have been in the store already if he had just parked and started walking! The first available parking spot is often pretty far away from the entrance of a store and that is great, if you think about it in the right way. Let other people compete for the parking spot in front of a door. Your car will be farther away from others, it will less likely have the paint dinged, and you will sneak in some extra steps! You can burn 6 calories a minute at a casual pace. You could burn 8 calories per minute if you walked a bit faster and had some bags in your hands. Think about it: if you went shopping about an average of once per week over the year, that extra minute of walking could have burnt 312 or even 416 calories. Easy, right?

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7. Sing to Your Favorite Tunes

Singing lowers stress, blood pressure and improves your mood. According to Stanford Medicine, a song's rhythm may even help relax your muscles. During 40 minutes of singing, a person who weighs 150 pounds burns about 68 calories sitting down. So go ahead, don't be shy, and rock out to your favorite songs on the radio while you're driving to work. A person with the same weight will burn 90 calories if singing for 40 minutes while standing up. Does singing in the shower come to mind? The steam from the shower also loosens up one's chest and will help with breathing while you give your lungs, diaphragm, and abdomen a workout.

Cute, isn't he?
Cute, isn't he?

8. Stretch!

Use at least part of your break during a work lunch or in between television commercials to stretch your neck, arms, legs and back. This will reduce joint strain, improve posture, increase blood flow and coordination. Stretching when waking up and going to bed are also good times to do this. It is essential to stretch before and after exercising. Stretching will lengthen the body's muscles and help prevent injury.

Stretching with cold muscles can cause small tears in the muscles and increase the risk of a getting a pulled muscle. So first make sure you do a gentle warm up such as walking for 5 minutes or jogging in place. Next, hold the stretch for 30 - 45 seconds. Make sure you do the stretch for each side of the body and don't bounce. If there is a sharp pain, you've gone too far. Back off to where you don't feel pain then hold. Don't hold your breath, relax, and breathe deeply while stretching.

Remember to stretch before and after exercising! Stretching beforehand will help prevent injury and stretching afterwards will decrease muscle pain and fatigue, and prevent cramping of the muscles. Here is a link to an excellent hub article on how to do some stretching exercises.

This is my cat Nestle. She loves to take walks with me and bugs the heck out of me every morning until I do, haha.
This is my cat Nestle. She loves to take walks with me and bugs the heck out of me every morning until I do, haha. | Source

9. Walk Your Dog, Cat, Lizard, Child, Friend!

According to Pet Mets Blog, dog owners who walk their pets everyday are significantly healthier than their non-dog owner counterparts. They also showed lower body fat, decreased blood pressure, less cases of diabetes, decreased depression and an increased feeling of motivation. I don't own a dog, but I trained my cat to walk on a leash. She absolutely loves it but some days I'm tired and don't feel like walking her. It's hard to say no when she keeps meowing at me so I take her out anyway. That's 20 minutes of extra walking everyday that I get in. Not only is this exercise, my cat and I always enjoy our little forays and I love watching her sniff and explore her environment. I know some people who have even leash trained their lizards!

Of course, you don't have to have a pet to do this. Do you have a friend that likes to go outside or is trying to lose weight? They can be your exercise buddy and you can support each other. Walking around the neighborhood with your child is also a great way to bond with him or her while encouraging the formation of healthy habits.

10. Pick Up an Outdoor Hobby

My fiancé is not a fan of the gym but he loves to go on long hikes with me through the woods. Often times, we are out there for 3 - 4 hours before we get tired. We spend the day looking for fossils, taking photos of animals, and eating wild berries we come across. We have a blast and times like these are relaxing and don't even feel like exercise. However, after walking up and down hills, carrying a few neat and heavy rocks, some equipment like water and hammers, I can guarantee we sweated. There are other outdoor activities that are so much fun that you won't even notice you're exercising. Gardening is an activity that makes you do squats and works out the arms. A 165 pound person can burn 200 calories in a half hour. Kayaking is a killer way to exercise the upper body and abdominal muscles. A 125 pound person can easily burn 300 calories per hour kayaking at a moderate pace. This is by far my favorite way of being active. I love the great outdoors!

11. Get Educated While Getting Fit

Most colleges have fitness classes available to take counting toward a degree, usually giving 1 - 3 course credits. A fitness class, like PE1 or yoga, would be perfect to fill up some elective hours. It's a great way to manage your time and to kill two birds with one stone. Colleges and universities have a surprisingly wide range of classes available, such as fencing and zumba in the pool. You can also take this opportunity to learn useful skills such as martial arts or a basic a self defense class. According to Shape magazine, a 45 minute session of regular zumba can burn around 500 calories!

You can buy accessories to modify the height of your keyboard and monitor. I just stick my laptop on top a tall speaker while I stand and type.
You can buy accessories to modify the height of your keyboard and monitor. I just stick my laptop on top a tall speaker while I stand and type. | Source

12. Distract Yourself While on an Exercise Machine

Sometimes the weather's not so nice or you can only exercise at night when it's not safe to be outside by yourself. This is when an exercise machines comes in handy, especially if you want to get some cardio in. The elliptical is a good option. A person can get cardio and some muscle toning in. You can distract yourself and pass the time by watching television or listening to music.However, the up and down motion could cause one to get motion sickness if attempting to do other activities. It is easy to listen to music or watch tv while on the treadmill, and the slower, steady motion can enable book reading and even the use of a laptop. Of course you should put it on a slow speed, for example 2.0 miles an hour for typing. You can go faster if you're watching a movie and don't require any coordination. There's even research that memory is increased by physical activity. So if a person is studying while reading notes, that's good. But if they do that and move at the same time it will be remembered better. Sometimes I have to watch movies or documentaries I would not normally watch for classes to do a paper on. I feel like getting my exercise in while doing this makes me waste less of my time.

There's an increasing trend for business to put in treadmills for employees to use while using a laptop to do work. Once used to this, they are seeing more productive, healthy, and less stressed employees. The business benefits of having healthier employees leads to less sick days taken and decreased insurance rates. If you don't have an exercise machine, place your laptop on a shelf of some sort and stand up while using it. You will still burn more calories than sitting down for hours will. The body will also naturally shift while standing, which will decrease neck and wrist fatigue.

13. It's Gonna Be Ok, Just Dance!

A 150 pound person performing basic housework for 60 minutes (such as dusting, vacuuming, washing dishes, etc.) will burn approximately 198 calories, according to HealthStatus.com.

Calories burned while cooking: 136 calories per hour. Go ahead and hum a song while cooking, or add in a sexy shimmy belly dancing move while reaching for the salt shaker.

Have you seen how much more toned and the significant weight loss some of the celebrities had gone through on the television show Dancing With the Stars? A 150 pound person can burn 205 calories an hour during a slower paced exercise, such as ballroom dancing. By comparison, more vigorous forms of dancing such as ballet, aerobic or modern dancing like break dancing burn up to 405 calories per hour.

So what are you waiting for? Just dance!

14. A Kissing Good Time

Alright, this is a sensitive subject so I'm not to go into too much detail. But yes, you can burn calories when you are affectionate with your loved one. According to Woman's Day, kissing can burn 68 calories per hour, massaging can burn 80 calories per hour, and being intimate with your partner can burn more than 144 calories in half an hour. Hmm, this sounds like a win-win for both parties, doesn't it?

15. Develop a Quick Exercise Routine

And last but not least, the ultimate time saver for exercising! Can't figure out how to find time for a 30 minute work out? Split it into three sections! Stretch in the morning and do 20 - 30 situps to wake yourself up. Do 20 pushups and 20 tricep dips in the afternoon, then shake your arms out. Perform 20 jumping jacks and 20 squats before bed and stretch. Over time your strength will increase and so will the number of your repetitions. You will rev up your metabolism and could potentially fit 1 - 2 hours of exercise into your daily routine during your spare minutes. What a difference!

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    • Greekgeek profile image

      Ellen 4 years ago from California

      That air desk stand plus treadmill looks to me like a better setup than mine. Fitdesk is good for light web browsing or reading a book, but you're bouncing up and down a bit (at least, I am) so I find myself not doing real writing on the bike.

      I can confirm that long phonecalls from your mother are a GREAT time to get exercise done. I set the phone on speakerphone mode and put it on the shelf on my bike! And suddenly I didn't get quite so restless after the first hour of the call. ;)

    • LauraVerderber profile image
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      Power Ball Pythons 4 years ago from Mobile, AL

      Glad you liked the article!

    • Louisa Rogers profile image

      Louisa Rogers 4 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

      Great article with excellent ideas. My recent favorite is listening to Spanish broadcasts on my ipod while walking around the town where I live in Mexico... a combination of learning and outdoor hobby. Voted up and useful.

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