To everyone that hears the word “workout” and is immediately hit with that pang of anxiety, dislike, or straight-up hatred, THIS IS FOR YOU! To anyone who is annoyed with their social media feed filled with “motivational” quotes that don’t offer much more than a second of inspiration, I’m also writing this for you. To my friends that have been asking how to improve their fitness level, but can’t fit in weekly spin classes, this is for you, too.
Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but there are ways that you can step up your fitness game without really knowing it or having to take two hours out of your day to do it. I promise none of these activities involve having to buy a pair of spin shorts or even a set of kettlebells.
These are all sneaky tips that shouldn’t feel like you’re having to change your entire schedule, but instead, small ways to make a positive difference in your physical (and mental) health.
I’ve compiled a list of ways on how to incorporate extra movements to things you’re already doing, as well as options to be able to increase your calorie burn. There are a few additional muscle-toning suggestions included, but all of these require minimal amounts of detouring from the things you were already doing.
Need to get groceries? Step up your grocery store run by adding in these small actions:
- Pick the parking spot that is furthest away from the entrance. Not only will you avoid terrible drivers and the headache of having to wait for those prime spots, but by choosing the option that is far away you’ll get more steps in.
- Double basket-it. If this isn’t a trip that requires you to get an entire cart full for the month, carry your crap! By carrying around your basket (or two) you’ll be working your upper body and core, and might even avoid some impulse buys.
- Lift your bags with a purpose. After checking out, carry your bags back to your car with the awareness of your entire body. Depending on the amount you’ve got, you can even add in a few bicep curls with each bag. Make sure you’re walking tall, strong, and try to avoid the classic shoulder slump aka posture-goes-out-the-window-resembling-your-great-great-grandma. Balancing out the weight from your produce and essentials along with taking breaks as needed while en route back to your car, will improve your overall muscle strength and stamina.
Have a lot of errands to do around town?
- Choose the stairs! Yes, elevators are a wonderful modern-day thing, but stairs will improve your blood flow, and leg strength, and while you’re lifting up each leg to get that next step, bring that knee a little higher up to get into your lower abs and obliques.
- Add a hidden weight to your purse or bag. Grab that heavy eco-friendly water bottle to your purse, bag, or backpack. Carrying around the extra lbs will challenge your body to balance in a different way and over time, your arms, back, and core will have adapted to the extra pounds. Not only will you be a little stronger, but you might even be able to add in that extra canteen of iced coffee, tea, or juice without even noticing.
Other ways to improve your fitness without much effort:
- Stand up. Yep. That’s it. That simple. Choosing the option to stand versus staying seated will burn more calories compared to the amount burned while sitting. According to research done by the Harvard Health Blog, “The Truth Behind Standing Desks,” published September 23, 2016, participants measured the number of calories burned while working at a standing desk for three hours compared to working while seated. On average, they burned an extra 24 calories over that three-hour period. Over time, that adds up to 320 calories a week, or about 5 pounds a year! No jumping-jacks, no squats, no push-ups, merely choosing to stand longer can help you if you’re trying to have a higher caloric-burn rate.
- Take more breaks! Not joking here. Studies from an article by MedlinePlus, “Ways to Burn More Calories Every Day,” published May 2020, have shown that stepping away from your desk to get up and do a quick stretch will cut up the amount of time you’re sedentary. A small bonus, taking those moments will potentially inspire you to think up an even more incredible idea for that upcoming work meeting by letting more oxygen flow and allowing your brain a mini refresh.
You already know that being physically active is good for your overall health, but by adding in some of these small things to your day, you’ll notice that you feel better, stronger, and all without having to put on a pair of leggings.