No Time for a Workout Today? Try This

November 4, 2015

I know you’re busy. I know that because you’re a mom with kids to take care of, people to feed, a house to clean, possibly a job to go to, laundry to do, errands to run, the list list goes on. Sometimes we don’t have time to schedule a workout.

While I love going to the gym and lifting heavy weights, I can only get there about twice per week at this stage in my life. Sometimes less, and that’s okay. However, movement (not necessarily exercise) is essential for health, so I know that I can’t rely on my gym time alone for movement as that is not nearly enough! Sure you can do workouts at home too and that’s GREAT! In fact, we offer both gym and home workouts (and postpartum workouts) on our HHHM Program site.

BUT what if you didn’t even have to schedule workouts? What if just going through your day was enough, and you didn’t need to “make time” for a separate workout every day?


We’ve Taken Movement Out of Our Lives

Let me explain. We’ve designed our lives to be convenient. Why would we sit on the floor when there’s a nice comfy couch we could sprawl out on? Why would we push a lawnmower when we can sit and ride it? Why would we walk to the corner store when we can drive?

Humans used to have to work physically for everything. If you weren’t fast enough to catch your food or strong enough to make shelter you didn’t survive. People were fit and strong because they had to be. Even 80 years ago, we (well…they) cooked from scratch for hours on their feet, washed laundry by hand, cleaned floors on their hands and knees, worked in fields OUTSIDE for 8 hours a day.

Now we sit in the car and drive to work where we sit inside for 8 hours a day, and then sit to drive home. We make food that takes 30 minutes to prepare and then throw the dishes in the dishwasher, we plop down on the couch at night and watch 2 hours of tv before going to bed. If we’re lucky we made room somewhere in there to squeeze in a 30 minute workout (or maybe we went biking for our exercise, which is still sitting by the way…not hating on biking, just sayin.)


What Can You Do to Get More Movement?

Am I saying we should start doing everything by hand again and get rid of our technology? No! I love my Netflix and my iPhone, and if you want me to do all of my dishes by hand you can come and pry that dishwaser out of my fingers. What I’m saying is, we live in a culture of convenience and we no longer need to be physically capable to survive. It’s easier to take the convenient route and we (as humans) will take convenience over hard work if the result is the same, every time. It’s how we’re wired. But if you can become aware of this, you can change it. You can build movement into the things you already need to do, and you can spend less time worrying about scheduled workouts.

Here’s a list of a bazillion (aka 50) ways to get more movement into your day to day life without scheduling ‘extra workout time’.

  1. If you have stores within walking distance, walk instead of drive to get small items.
  2. If you don’t live within walking distance, park in the furthest parking spot.
  3. When you’re catching up with a friend over the phone, walk and talk instead of sitting.
  4. Save up all of your “errand” phone calls (calling the school, calling to switch your internet provider, calling the insurance company *shudder*) and do them on a walk. It might even make those calls slightly less agonizing.
  5. Listen to your podcasts on a walk.
  6. Walk around the backyard while you’re kids are outside playing.
  7. Squat down to pick up toys.
  8. Squat to load the dishwasher.
  9. Squat to unload the dishwasher.
  10. Squat to go to the bathroom.
  11. Squat to watch TV.
  12. Squat while brushing your teeth.
  13. Squat to fold laundry.
  14. Squat in your chair instead of sitting.
  15. Squat at a low table to cut up your fruits and vegetables.
  16. Squat while you do ANYTHING.
  17. Stretch your hamstrings while folding laundry.
  18. Stretch your calves while you fold laundry.
  19. Every time you walk down the stairs for something, go up and down an extra time.
  20. Play with your kids at the playground instead of sitting and watching.
  21. Walk around the playground while watching your kids play instead of sitting.
  22. Stand and wait at the doctor’s office instead of sitting.
  23. Stand and wait for kids at the dance studio instead of sitting.
  24. Stand and wait WHEREVER you’re waiting instead of sitting.
  25. Even better, do a little light pacing too.
  26. While watching TV sit on the floor instead of the couch.
  27. While watching TV walk around during the commercials.
  28. While watching TV switch your position every 10 minutes.
  29. While watching TV stand up.
  30. While watching TV stretch some tight muscles.
  31. While watching TV pick one of the HHHM home workouts and do a set during every commercial.
  32. While watching TV do some foam rolling or yoga tune up balling (I made that a verb, you’re welcome).
  33. Stand on one leg while you’re brushing your teeth.
  34. Stand on the other leg while you straighten or curl your hair.
  35. Make a crockpot dinner instead of an oven or skillet dinner and take a walk while you would normally be cooking.
  36. At work, walk a lap around the office every 30 minutes.
  37. At work, suggest walking meetings.
  38. At work, make a dynamic workstation so you can switch between standing and sitting all day.
  39. At work, stretch (pick a new body part) every hour.
  40. At work, use small cups of water instead of big bottles, get up to refill it when you need more.
  41. At work, park a mile away and walk the last mile.
  42. Do that for picking up your kids from school too (or make it shorter for them, depending on their age).
  43. Every time you go to the bathroom do 5 push-ups.
  44. Every time you go to the bathroom do 10 kettlebell swings.
  45. Install a pull up bar in your bedroom door frame and do a few pull ups (or hang) every time you walk through.
  46. Have daily dance parties.
  47. Stretch your neck and shoulders while breastfeeding or bottle feeding.
  48. Keep your most used pan or kitchen gadget in the basement or hard to get to cupboard so you need to move to get to it.
  49. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  50. Take the stairs instead of the escalator.

I even made a little video for you of ways I like to get extra movement into my day!

Am I Saying You Should Abandon Your Workouts?

No! I love getting in a few heaving lifting sessions per week but even when I’m able to fit that in, I still use a lot of these suggestions to get a higher NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis). NEAT is basically everything physical you do that’s not a scheduled workout session. More movement is better for your cells AND your waistline. (Note: unless you’re over-training or not getting enough recovery time, there’s always exceptions to the rule!)

Fitness, exercise, movement, is all cumulative. You don’t HAVE to squish all of your movement into one 60 minute block, you can split it up throughout the day. Similarly, you don’t have to always assign extra “exercise time” to be moving, getting stronger, or burning extra calories.

As with everything we suggest, please don’t try to do all of these together at the same time! Pick one thing, or even one category that you think will have the most impact for you and start there! After that, pick another one, and so on.

Let us know in the comments which idea’s you plan to incorporate!