Experts recommend working out at least 30 minutes a day, three days a week. While this may not seem like much to some, finding the time to go to the gym can be difficult for those with busy lifestyles. Here are ten exercises even the busiest person can squeeze into their day. And, the best part of all: no gym is required!
10. Stair Climbing
Skipping the elevator (or escalator) and taking the stairs is a simple way to fit a little cardio into your day. According to researchers at McMaster University, stair climbing increases cardiorespiratory fitness, which is vital to long-term life expectancy.
Other benefits of stair climbing include:
-Aids weight loss
-Improves HDL cholesterol levels
-Builds and maintains healthy bones, muscles and joints
-Improves bone density in post-menopausal women
-Reduces the risk of injury from falls in the elderly
Looking to amp up your workout? Try jogging up and down the stairs instead. “Jogging up, and then down, a flight of stairs is a completely different workout than your typical run,” CJ Thomas, certified personal trainer and owner of Saint Louis Fitness Bootcamp, said in an article on the American Lung Association’s website. “You’re working your hip flexors, the gluteus medius of your outer thighs, your gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quads, calves and so much more. And taking the stairs will increase calorie burn and stoke up metabolism,” Thomas added.
FUN FACT: Back in 2013, the U.S.A. Stair Climbing Association started National Take the Stairs Day to encourage folks to become more physically fit. The holiday is celebrated annually on the second Wednesday in January.
9. Office Desk Push-ups
Here’s an exercise you can do at work.
If you have your own desk, you can use this exercise to work your pecs, triceps, and deltoids.
How to do it:
Stand about a yard away from your desk. Put both feet together and place your hands on the desk, making sure you’re at a 45-degree angle. Lower your chest to the desk, then push yourself back up. Repeat 20 times.
NOTE: As with any version of push-ups, make sure you’re using the proper form.
8. Office Chair Dips
Here’s another exercise you can do at the office. This exercise works your triceps.
How to do it:
Step 1 – Stand with your back to your desk chair
Step 2 – Sit down on the edge of the chair
Step 3 – Put both your hands on the edge of the chair (by your thighs)
Step 4 – Scoot forward to the edge of the chair (until your butt is just off the chair)
Step 5 – Slowly lower your body, making sure your elbows bend at least 90 degrees
Step 6 – Raise your body
Step 7 – Repeat 10 times
INTERESTING FACT: Chair dips are one of the many exercises recommended for disabled veterans.
7. Mall Walking
According to the American Heart Association, walking lowers your risk of developing heart disease. But, traffic, the weather, unleashed dogs and other factors can make walking outside difficult. In fact, the National Institute on Aging at NIH encourages walking in the mall and lists the many benefits associated with it:
-You can walk alone or with a group. Even if you arrive at the mall alone, you’ll probably meet other walkers. The support of others can help motivate you to keep going.
-It’s convenient. Although a formal mall walking program may have set hours, you can also set your own schedule, and walk any time the mall is open.
-Malls are easy to get to. Many have bus stops on site or nearby.
-Malls are pedestrian-friendly. They have level floors, benches or other places to rest, water fountains, and accessible restrooms.
-It’s free. You might be tempted to window-shop, but you don’t have to buy anything. If you do shop, some stores may give discounts to mall walkers.
-You don’t need special exercise equipment other than comfortable walking shoes.
-Walkers of all ages and fitness levels are welcome.
-Malls are accessible to those with varying physical abilities.
-You can walk at your own pace. As you get used to walking, increase the frequency, intensity, and/or duration of your walk to improve your fitness. Try taking the stairs to the second level instead of the escalator.
-Mall walking is non-competitive. You can exercise and socialize in a friendly environment.
-Security staff help make malls a safe place to walk.
6. Planks in Bed
Planks tone your core, back muscles, and glutes. While typically performed on the floor, planks can also be done from the comfort of your own bed.
How to do a plank:
Get into push-up position. Place your forearms on the bed (make sure they form a 90-degree angle). While looking down at your bed, keep your body straight, tighten your abs and hold for 30 seconds. Perform two or three sets.
Additional moves you can try:
Dolphin Plank – Get into plank position. Push your quadriceps (front thighs) up toward the ceiling. Lengthen your tailbone toward your heels. Hold the pose for five breaths, then release the pose. Repeat up to 10 times.
Plank Lifts – Get into plank position. Lift your hips high and bend your body to create an arch. Hold for two seconds, then lower your hips back down. Repeat 10 times.
Here’s another exercise you can do without leaving the comfort of your bed.
To do bicycles, simply lie flat on your back with your knees and elbows bent and your hands behind your head. Raise your legs, moving them one at a time, as if you were pedaling a bicycle. While pedaling, raise up to crunch the opposite elbow toward the knee that’s in pedaling motion. Pedal and crunch 25 times on both sides.
4. Traffic Jam Core Strengthening
Exercising is a good way to pass the time while you’re sitting in traffic. Depending on where you live, you could get in a full week’s workout in one sitting (Once I was stuck in traffic for nearly three hours on I-64 in Norfolk, VA)!
Don’t worry. There’s no need to get out of your car and risk getting stares from others to get in a good workout.
In an article on American news and opinion website The Daily Beast, personal trainer Jeff Daubs explained how you can work your core while stuck in traffic or sitting at a light:
“Place your hands against the roof or your car, push up with your arms and squeeze your abs at the same time. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat as many times as possible. The dual action of pressing up with the arms and shoulders and squeezing the core creates a static hold that serves to strengthen the arms, shoulders, back, and core all at the same time.” Lifting one or both legs off the floor will engage your core even more, Daubs added.
3. Commuter Crunches
Crunches are another good exercise to do while stuck in traffic–or while you’re sitting anywhere for that matter. Fitness professional and celebrity trainer Lacey Stone explained to The Daily Beast how it’s done:
“Keeping your shoulders and neck relaxed, contract the lower abdominal muscles. Hold the lower abdominal contraction and engage your upper abs. Gently round the lower back and move your ribcage down toward your hips. Hold the contraction for 8 to 10 seconds, breathing normally, and return to a neutral sitting position. Repeat 8 to 12 times or until muscle fatigue.”
2. Seated Twist
Yet another traffic jam workout is what Stefanie DiLibero, acupuncturist at Gotham Wellness, calls the seated twist. The seated twist is actually a yoga move that strengthens and stretches your spine. It also stretches your hips, obliques, back, and neck.
DiLibero explained to The Daily Beast how to do the seated twist in your car:
“Sit in your seat, with your feet planted firmly on the floor, arms resting beside you. Peel your back off the back of the chair, and take a moment to connect the crown of your head with your pelvic bowl. As you inhale, allow the crown of the head to reach toward the ceiling without lifting the chin. As you exhale, draw the belly in, and twist to your right, placing your left hand on the arm rest to your right. Repeat on the other side.”
1. Glute Squeezes
Another interesting car workout is what author and fitness professional Jay Cardiello calls the “squeeze and release“. Basically, you tighten (or clench) and then relax your butt muscles.
While sitting in your car, squeeze your butt muscles as hard as you can and hold for 10 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat 10 times. This exercise will strengthen your glute muscles over time. Strong glutes are important. “There’s a reason why they are some of the thickest and strongest muscles in the body. Working together, they are the engine for human locomotion,” Dr. Mike Young, owner of Athletic Lab Sports Performance Center in North Carolina, said in an article on Esquire.com.
“Weak glutes contribute to many problems in areas besides the pelvic area—from ITB syndrome to patellofemoral syndrome to back pain and a host of other problems. Developing both strength and also flexibility at the back and hip region is critical for lower limb health and function,” podiatrist Stephen Pribut said in the Esquire article.
What creative ways do you fit exercise into your day? Share your experiences below!