10 Ways to Sneak in Exercise Throughout the Day

You’ll hardly know you’re doing it!

Many of us have a regular workout routine that includes hitting the gym before or after work, or maybe doing a workout in your home gym. That's great, and necessary.  But it's just as important to move your body throughout the entire day - maybe even MORE important. New research finds that Non-Exercise Activity (NEAT) is actually significantly more important than our exercise habits when it comes not only to fat-loss, but also for health, vitality, avoiding many chronic diseases, enhancing energy levels, speeding up our metabolism, and even prolonging our lives!  So although we definitely need to be working out daily, we can’t rely on just our 30-60 minute sessions for optimal health.

When you're working at a desk all day, it can be hard to find time to move and get your heart rate up. But there are several ways to sneak in movement throughout the day. Whether you work at home, or in an office, here are 10 easy ways I have found to MOVE during the work day.

  1. Take phone calls standing up - or better still, while you walk. Every call I take (when I don’t need to look at my computer) I walk around and talk. Why waste that time sitting?  You can easily get 15 minutes of movement in if you walk and talk at the same time.
  2. Sit on an exercise ball - there are several versions of these balls available now. Great for posture, core strength, balance, flexibility and circulation.
  3. Use a Stand up Desk -  If you can swing it, consider a stand up desk! There are so many desk options now from an adjustable-height standing desk to a treadmill desk or even a bike desk. Or start simple with a desktop converter that you place on top of your existing desk.
  4. Stretch - this is more important than it sounds for many reasons. It could be as simple as raising your hands above your head to relieve the strain of sitting and improve circulation, slightly bending to either side. Another easy one is to stand in front of a wall, place one hand on the wall at shoulder height. With the other arm, reach up as high as possible by pushing from your shoulder with a straight back and looking up at the ceiling.
  5. Step outside - Take short breaks between tasks to do something outside. Take a short walk, water the plants, pull some weeds, walk the dog, walk to the mailbox. Anything to move and get some fresh air.
  6. 10 minute workout breaks - A couple times a day take a 10 minute exercise break. You can simply do squats, or lunges, or jumping jacks. I keep dumbbells by my desk for bicep curls, overhead presses, etc. Better yet, invest in a piece of workout equipment you can easily jump on. I use the Ab Coaster® PS500. I do 15 reps each front, left and right side a couple times a day. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s highly effective!
  7. Squeeze in squats - sounds silly, but every time you sit, squeeze in a few squats first! If you do a quick 10 every time, you can easily have done 50 squats by the end of the day.

If you’re in an office you have a few more choices.

  1. Park further away - park at the very back of the lot or down the street and walk.
  2. Don't use elevators - always take the stairs!
  3. Have walking meetings - if you have to meet with a colleague, see if they’ll walk and talk with you. You’d be surprised how many people are trying to do the same thing you are. Just move!

Using a Fitness Tracker can help you keep track of all of this movement. Some will even prompt you to stand, or breath or stretch. I used to dismiss those prompts. Now I follow them! If you don’t have one, you can set alarms or alerts on your phone or calendar to remind you throughout the day.

You don't have to do all of these at once. Pick the ones that resonate with you. Add some of your own. Just make it a part of your routine to stretch and move around every hour or so. You'll be surprised at how much better you feel after only a few days! And know that these little additions to your day are significantly improving your health and well-being.