Health & Wellness

Exercises to Do When You Don’t Have a Lot of Time

Moving your body a little bit every day can make a big difference


By Katrina Caruso


It’s very, very easy to not get enough exercise, especially in the winter. If you’ve been feeling like a guilty couch potato lately, here are five ways to integrate more movement into your day.

1. Track your steps
This is a great way to get started. You can use a smartwatch to count your steps or even the iPhone step-counter through the Health app, but there are also inexpensive pedometers on the market that will do the trick. A good rule of thumb is to aim for about 10,000 steps a day—that’s an extra 2,000 to 3,500 calories burned each week. If you’re not sure how to get more walking in, think about making small changes, such as getting up and moving during your day at the office, walking to do your errands (when possible), parking your car farther from the door in parking lots, walking on your lunch hour, and going for a walk in the evening to clear your head.

2. Take the stairs
With elevators and escalators in the most large buildings, it becomes natural to take those instead of the stairs. If you notice that you don’t take the stairs anymore, start small: do one flight instead of all 12 to get to work. It might take a bit longer for you to get to your destination, and the burn in your legs may at first feel unwelcome, but you’ll soon get used to it and even begin to enjoy it.

3. Shop in person
The ease of online shopping has meant more people purchasing more and more from the web and less and less from brick and mortar shops. While online shopping can be immensely convenient, the act of getting out of your home and carrying something home can be a very effective way to get more exercise into your days. An exercise known as the Farmer’s Walk is about the simplest there is and perfect for people out shopping. It’s normally done with a weight in each hand, but grocery bags full of stuff work just as well. Keep your back straight, shoulders down and back, and head up, and just walk. It’s great for improving posture and strengthens both the upper and lower back.

4. Use an exercise ball
If you do a lot of sitting at work or while watching TV, why not consider buying yourself an exercise ball? This is an excellent way to strengthen your core muscles while seated. It may be hard to stabilize yourself at first (keep your feet apart), but that’s normal. You’ll also be working to improve your posture over time. Inflate the ball until you can sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor and your legs at a 90-degree angle to it. Just be sure to get the right size for your height and weight.

5. Get into the habit, starting small
Find one or two exercises you enjoy doing and try to to them every day. For me, it’s squats: 10 in the morning, 10 when I get home, and 10 more before bed. If I remember, I’ll add in some plank or push-ups. At first, you may be able to do only three crunches or push ups, but overtime, doing 10 will be easy, and then another 10 will eventually feel like a piece of cake. Some of these can be done while you do menial tasks: you can do calf raises while brushing your teeth, making photocopies, or doing the dishes. Just find some time in your day, every day, and see quickly you make progress.

Photo: iStock.