Did you run today? Hit the gym? Take the dog for a long, brisk walk? The CDC and the surgeon general recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week to stay healthy. That works out to 30 minutes, five days a week (in case you don’t want to do the math).
As it turns out, though, four out of five Americans don’t move quite that much. But just as some crafty moms slip spinach into brownies to sneak their kids nutrients, we have ideas for ways to sneak exercise into each day.
1. Hack Your Walk
Pick a far-away parking space at the mall, grocery store or your office. Take the stairs, not the elevator. Skip the drive-thru and go inside. Walk around when you’re on the phone, instead of sitting in your chair.
2. Work (Out) At The Office
Ditch your office chair for a standing desk or a stability ball. It takes more energy to stand (or balance on a ball), so you’ll get a workout just by working, says exercise physiologist Jacque Ratliff, MS, CPT, an education specialist for the American Council on Exercise. “Walk and talk” meetings can also get you moving.
3. Get On Your Feet
“Every hour on the hour, take a lap around your office or around your home. Stand up and be conscious of what you’re doing,” says certified strength and conditioning specialist Cheryl Richardson, MS, senior director of programs for the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. “We know sitting is really unhealthy when it comes to chronic disease, but also for your back. At the most basic level, the goal would just be to stand up more.”
4. Balance On One Foot
If you’re standing in line at the grocery store, stand on one foot, hold it for 10 seconds and then switch to the other foot. According to Richardson, that’s good for your balance and core. “Nobody will really notice you’re doing it,” she says. “It’s not a strange thing, and it’s not going to make you sweaty. It’s taxing on your body and a good strength activity.”
5. Get A Pedometer
They’re cheap and easy to use, and you’ll want to move more when you see those numbers ticking away. Taking 10,000 steps every day is the ideal goal. “People get kind of competitive with those things sometimes,” says Ratliff. “Get with people you work with and see who logs the most steps.”
6. Work It While Doing Chores
Blast upbeat music when you scour and scrub. “You’ll probably add more steps because you’re dancing when you’re cleaning,” says Richardson. “Instead of mopping, get down on your hands and knees and clean the floor. Plus, vacuuming is fantastic exercise.”
7. Move During Commercial Breaks
Do triceps dips off the couch. Stand up and dust your living room. Anything to avoid walking to the pantry to get a bag of chips!
8. Enjoy An Active Hobby
Try hiking in the woods, joining a kickball league or salsa dancing. Rope your friends into going along. And speaking of friends… ask your buds to meet you for walking or tennis over your lunch hour, and eat something healthy at your desk.
9. Practice Activity
If you’re at your kid’s sport practice, walk brisk laps around the field with other parents instead of just sitting around. “You’re still paying attention to your child and getting the social benefits of being there,” says Richardson. “But you’re moving — and it all adds up.”
10. Train With Others
Join a group that’s training to run their first 5K, suggests Ratliff. “It’s important to have camaraderie,” he says. “When people are having fun, it doesn’t feel like work.”