No time to hit the gym? Our easy, fun exercises make every second count toward your health and fitness.
Does the thought of donning spandex, driving to the gym and investing an hour on a treadmill or rowing machine discourage you from reaching your fitness goals?
Let’s start smaller — first, by knowing how much exercise you really need. Because there’s a middle ground between crafting six-pack abs and flopping onto the couch in defeat, according to Geisinger primary care doctor Ashley Lewis, MD.
“It’s better to do small home workouts than to set lofty goals, then never have time to reach them,” she notes. “Hitting the gym is great. But if your membership card is getting dusty in your duffel bag, becoming a source of guilt instead of a ticket to good health, it’s probably time to find new ways to get moving.”
A good place to start? By remembering that you don’t have to dedicate big blocks of time to exercise — giving up a precious hour your toddler or boss or partner might also need from you — to maintain your health.
How much exercise do you need to stay healthy?
The guidelines are clear, which makes setting goals easy. Each week, the average adult needs:
- 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as walking
- Or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running
- Plus, two strength training sessions that hit all muscle groups
If that sounds like a lot, consider that two runs of just over a half hour each week are enough to meet the aerobic guidelines.
Dr. Lewis also points out that it’s okay to divide your home exercise routines into tiny chunks. Fifteen 10-minute walks — quick work breaks you need for your mental health, too — are just fine.
The key, she adds, is to make moving a habit. Once you start looking for ways to incorporate motion into your day, it can become second nature.
Start with our fun exercise suggestions, then get your own creative juices flowing — and your blood pumping, too.
Let’s take the “work” out of workout
If staring at the time-and-distance measures on a treadmill makes you want to throw in your gym towel, we can help you break exercises into bite-sized morsels, without so much as lifting a dumbbell.
Going upstairs? Make it a triple trip
If you have a multi-story house, condo or apartment building, you have a built-in stair stepper that you probably use several times a day. Especially if you have kids, and the laundry room is on a different floor than their bedrooms.
Get your heart pumping and knock out some of those suggested minutes of movement by doubling, or even tripling, each trip up and down.
“It only takes a few seconds to turn around at the top of the steps and repeat the climb a few times as part of your daily life,” says Dr. Lewis. “Climbing stairs is a great home workout — an aerobic exercise that targets your glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps, too.”
Flip your dog walk
Do you spell W-A-L-K in front of your pup because they’ll go berserk with excitement if they hear the word?
What if we tried to get that excited?
Follow your dog’s lead — literally — by letting them control the duration of a few walks each week. If they want to meander farther than you, and they probably will, tag along on the adventure. Even an extra spin around an average block will let you log about a quarter mile.
Dog walks are a great family activity, too. No need to leave the kids behind. They can join right in, building good habits, too.
Kitchen counter gymnasium
A watched pot never boils. So, don’t stand there staring. Turn to the counter, stabilize your core and do some leg lifts, squats, calf raises or countertop pushups.
Your kitchen counter — cleared of knives and hot stuff, of course — is one of your home’s most stable surfaces. And if you’re baking or boiling something, chances are, you have some downtime. You might as well get moving while that pasta boils.
For example, if you’re making al dente spaghetti, you could get in a good nine or 10 minutes of home exercise. And you’ll feel less guilty when you sit down to eat.
Pick up your smartphone? Pick up the pace
The average American spends three to five hours a day on their cellphone.
Why not maximize that time by moving, too, when it’s safe? For example, if you’re home, and you need to reply to a text, stand up and pace a clear path in the room until the conversation is over.
You’ll probably be surprised by how quickly you rack up 150 minutes of movement — and because your mind is busy, you might not even notice you’ve met your goals.
Get moving on family (or friend) game nights
Does your family gather around board games each week? Try taking it outside!
Kickball, tag, badminton and other traditional backyard games are inexpensive ways to move your whole body and even work up a serious sweat while laughing and having a great time.
To make things more interesting, search the rules for classic games like spud or kick the can. You and your kids might get hooked on fun in the sun. (Or under the moon if you play flashlight tag.)
And games that get you moving aren’t just for children. Why not invite your friends for a retro yard-game party?
Exercise for life
Exercise might seem like a chore, Dr. Lewis adds. But it’s really a form of self-care and can be enjoyable.
“It’s a matter of perspective and how you approach exercise,” she says. “When you stop looking at it as a burden and make it a treat, you can easily meet the suggested metrics for good health.”