Friday, October 25, 2013

Eight Tips for Sneaking In Exercise When You Really Don’t Have the Time

By Caitlin Seida
I've heard tales of rare and mythical creatures who love to exercise and have seemingly unlimited time to get it done during the day. I don't think I've ever met one, but I'm sure they do exist. I, personally, am not one of them.

So what's a girl to do when she's busy but needs to stay in shape? Sneaks in exercise in bursts. Five minutes here, ten minutes there, a couple minutes before bed - it all adds up and you can build up to the recommended 30 to 60 minutes a day of exercise you should be getting, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Photo Copyright Jessica Lucia, Used Under Creative Commons License

So how do you do it? Here's some ideas:

1. Do Squats While Brushing Your Teeth
Proper tooth brushing techniques take about two minutes and you should be doing it at least twice a day. That's four minutes of time where you're staring into your bathroom mirror and making goofy faces at yourself. Use those two minute chunks of time to get in as many squat repetitions as is safely possible. Squats are resistance exercises that use your own body weight to work your quadricep and hamstring muscles. Strengthening them can help protect your knees - a great benefit!
Here's a video demonstrating proper squat techniques:

2. Work Your Arms While Doing Laundry Laundry - we've all got to do it and I don't think anyone likes it. You have to lift the laundry into the basket, lift the basket and carry it to your laundry area, lift the clothes into the machine, wait for a while and then transfer them from the machine to the dryer. That in and of itself is a lot of work, right? Use the weight from the laundry (wet laundry is heavier than dry) to do some quick reps to trick yourself into giving your arm muscles a workout.

Exercise your arms and shoulders by using the laundry basket in place of a barbell - a seated shoulder press, as demonstrated here, allows you to sit while you contemplate which detergent to use. You can also use the laundry basket to do a standing barbell curl, as demonstrated here. 

3. Practice Your Ballet Barre Technique While Doing The Dishes 
I'm a big fan of ballet exercises - they help build long, lean muscles, improve flexibility and core stability and they improve your balance big time. Doing the dishes can take a long time - sneak in some releves, rond de jambes, tendus and plies while you're scrubbing.

4. Create a Cardio Housework Blast
Vacuum, mop the floor, scrub the bathtub, clean the toilet - but do it all at a pace that gets your heart pumping. Dance while you do it - nobody's watching. Get your heart rate elevated and keep it that way by working at a break neck speed - as a bonus, your housework will get done quicker, too.
Copyright Jason Jones, Used Under Creative Commons License
Copyright Gabrielle Marks, Used Under Creative Commons License

5. Make Multiple Trips
Gotta go upstairs to get your laptop, phone and MP3 player? Make a separate trip for each item. Even if you live in a one story house, walk each item to its intended room individually. Sure, it takes a little extra time but every extra step you take counts towards your goal. Baby steps will get you there just as surely as leaps and bounds.

Copyright THOR. Used Under Creative Commons License
6. Park farther away from the door
Everybody wants that prime parking spot right in front of work or the store - pass it up and let someone else have an easy day. Instead, opt to park farther away and walk to your destination. Again - it all adds up to your goal.

Copyright Vick the Viking. Used Under a Creative Commons License.

7. Take the Stairs
Yeah, everybody knows this piece of advice and nobody likes to hear it, but it bears repeating. Ignore the elevator, ignore the escalator, leave your space age jetpack at home. Take the stairs. It'll get your heart pumping and count toward your daily fitness goal. The more you take the stairs, the easier it gets - eventually you'll stop huffing and puffing when you reach the top. I promise!

8. Play.
Remember when you were a kid and your mom sent you out of the house for the afternoon? Everything was a playground - the entire world was new and exciting and there were opportunities to play wherever you looked. Let your inner child out for a bit and just go play. Climb trees, rake leaves and jump in the pile, dig holes in the dirt, roll down hills - a little bit of play is good for your body AND your mind

Copyright Walt Stoneburner. Used Under Creative Commons License

How do you sneak exercise into your daily routine? Leave us a comment and let us know. 

Caitlin Seida has been writing since 2006, with her work appearing on various websites including,,, and The Daily Puppy. A Jill-of-All-Trades, she splits her workday as a writer, humane society advocate and on-call vet tech. What little free time she has goes into pinup modeling, advocating for self-acceptance, knitting and trying to maintain her haunted house (really!). You can find her on Facebook, on Twitter, and of course here on I Feel Delicious!

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