Work Fitness into Your Daily Routine

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For my birthday, I received a BodyMedia.com Band.  I was shocked to find out that despite my vigorous 1-hour daily workouts, my moderate activity for the remainder of the day left much to be desired.  I needed to be more conscious of what I was doing outside of the gym that would constitute as purposeful activity—accomplishing my need to move more, while not making it a time consuming “workout.”  I have come up with several ways to do this, and wanted to share them with the working parents out there as ways to work “fitness” into their daily routine.

  1. Multitask:  What are you doing while you are on the phone?  Can you walk around your house?  Go up/down the stairs?  If you are in an office, can you stand up and lift your knees or do an isometric squat hold?
  2. Laundry:  How heavy is that basket?  I know I dread bringing it upstairs!  Before you take it anywhere, stand in front of it and squat low.  Pick it up and hold it for 5 seconds.  Squat down low and set it back on the floor.  Can you do this 10 times before you decide to tackle the stairs with it?  Alternatively, skip the basket and make several trips up the stairs or across the house with folded laundry (extra steps add up).
  3. Commercial Breaks:  Thanks to our beloved DVRs, we can watch an hour program in half the time.  Instead of scooting through those commercials, use them as an opportunity to focus on a body part.  Try a different one each time—abs, legs, shoulders, chest, etc.  Do an exercise that targets this area until your show resumes.
  4. Errands:  I’ve yet to have a day where I don’t need to go to the grocery store, dry cleaner, post office, etc.  Pick one errand a day to do on foot or bicycle.  Slip your ipod into your pocket, put on a small backpack and get going.  Checking that item off your to-do list is such an accomplishment!
  5. Parking:  No matter where my destination is, I always try to park far from it.  Don’t circle that block over and over hoping someone will pull out—find a spot at least one or two blocks away.  If you are anticipating leaving with items that will be too hard to schlep to your car, ask the store if they will hold onto it as you retrieve your car and pull up to the store front.
  6. Long Way Home:  Wherever you have parked in relation to your current location, take the long way back to get there.  Start walking in the opposite direction, go around the block or cross the street, or pass your car and circle back around it before you go in.  The extra steps count!
  7. Drive-Thru:  No more drive-thrus!  Yes, they are so convenient, especially when you have kids in the car.  Resist the urge to use them.  Park, grab your kids, carry them in and back.  You’ll use your body and feel more energized by being a bit more active—and you may not even need that caffeine after all.
  8. Double up:  Every time you go upstairs, you have to do it twice.  Go up, turn around, go down, and then go up again and get what you need.  Hopefully you won’t forget what it was by the time you get there.
  9. Stop Lights:  When you are sitting at a red light, take your hands on your steering wheel and put them on the “9” and “3” position.  Face your palms towards the center and push.  This is an isometric hold of your upper body.  Hold until the light turns green.
  10. Active Core:  We should all be aware of our core not only during your structured workout, but in our everyday activities as well.  Be sure to engage in the following scenarios:  loading and unloading groceries, making beds, vacuuming, picking up your children.
  11. Passive Core:  Engaging your core during your everyday actions is important, but can you make a mental note to consciously hold it tight while you are driving, in the grocery store, waiting in line at the bank?  No one will notice that you are doing it, but you will sure feel it!
  12. TV:  My husband has little time to watch TV, but loves a great show.  He has missed out on some great programs during their season, but has found a way to download and watch them on his tablet.  He becomes so involved, he has been known to watch 2 or more episodes while on the treadmill or elliptical machine.  He says the time just flies!!
  13. School Pick-Up:  I know most people line up in their cars 20-30 minutes before school lets out.  They sit in their cars and make phone calls or text/email as they wait.  If you are one of these people, make a plan with a friend who is doing the same.  Turn off your cars, get out and do some partnering activities to pass the time:  Throw a medicine ball back/forth, go to the playground and do some pull ups, jog or walk as you circle the school 2-3 times.
  14. No Yelling:  When it’s time for dinner, do you shout down to the basement or upstairs to let everyone know it’s ready?  How about walking around the house and telling your family members that it’s time to eat.  May take you longer, but you will be sure to get the table filled.
  15.  Time it:  Most everyone has a cell phone that has a timer or a kitchen appliance that has one.  First put on some music, then as you clean up after a meal, or pick up and put away toys, set your timer to go off every 2 minutes.  Clean quickly and when you hear that alarm, you need to do 10 jumping jacks, or 10 pushups, or 10 triceps dips.
  16. Stairs:  Always opt for stairs.
  17. Earn that Snack: When you put something in microwave or toaster, do pushups against counter, dips off the kitchen chair, or hold low squat positions.  Do something in that time instead of standing waiting, texting, or eating off your kid’s plate.
  18. Podcasts: Create a refreshed media library of your favorite podcasts to keep you company on the track or treadmill. The time passes MUCH faster when you are engaged and entertained.
  19. Watching?  When you are watching a soccer game, hockey game or dance class are you sitting?  Think again…walk around that field as you watch, stand and observe the dance class, hover over your seat for 30-second increments.  It’s fantastic that your kids are getting the activity they need- give yourself a little something too.
  20. BodyMedia.com Band: Try getting one for yourself!  This band keeps track of vigorous and moderate activity and can be a huge motivator to get you moving.
  21. Bus Stop: What are you doing when you are at the bus stop?  I know that bus never seems to run on time.  I get there early and it gets there late.  Bring a jump rope and jump, bring a couple water bottles and do some arm lifts and squats—you can hand out the bottles to the kids as they get off the bus!

These activities are not meant to replace your traditional workouts, walks and runs.  But, these ideas will help compliment your hard work by keeping your body in motion and energized throughout your non-stop day.

Visit Dana’s blog for her “Move of the Week,” fitness tips, inspiration and more! Follow Dana on Twitter: @DPEverybodyfit or “Like” Dana on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DanaPiepersEverybodyFitness!