Can you believe it’s August? Wasn’t the first day of summer just … yesterday?
Whether you’re getting in your last licks of vacation time, shopping for classroom supplies or scheduling after-school activities (or all of the above), it’s easy for your fitness routine to fall by the wayside. It’s called a busy life and we get it. But there are still some easy ways to stay healthy and active.
If you get a little creative, or at least think outside the box, you can
incorporate exercise into your existing activities and routines, even if it’s simply balancing on one foot while you brush your teeth (because balance is a cornerstone of quality movement and promotes joint stability). Another way is to creatively work more steps into your day.
Walk this way
Walking is probably the easiest way to add movement to your day, and it’s also underrated. Studies show that putting one foot in front of the other for around 30 minutes daily can do everything from lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk for chronic disease to keeping your brain sharper and your heart happier.
You’ve probably heard the advice to park in the back of the parking lot, or take the stairs whenever possible. That’s a great start, but there are plenty of other things to do. Use your smartphone to track your steps, and aim for about 7- 8,000 steps per day. As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles (or in this case 3 to 4) starts with a single step. Here are some options.
- Keep a pair of sneakers in your car
- Get off the bus, train or subway a stop early and walk the rest of the way home
- Take some extra laps around the mall or shopping center when you’re doing back-to-school shopping
- Run around with your kids — on the beach, in the park, or in the pool — rather than supervising. Or go for a walk on the beach or a spin around the lake if someone else is on kid-duty.
- Peruse all the grocery store aisles before checking out, even if you know exactly what you need to buy for the family barbecue. Start around the perimeter (where the fresh produce and healthier options are) and work your way in. Use a basket rather than a cart to add some weight to your walk.
- Carry your groceries home, or to your car that’s parked at the back of the lot. You’ll actually be doing a version of something called the Farmer’s Walk (or Farmer’s Carry), a functional movement exercise done with weights that builds strength and endurance. It got its name because it mimics how a farmer walks carrying a heavy feed bucket in each hand.
- Take your pup for a longer stroll
- If you’re traveling, walk the terminal before your flight. After the flight, take a few laps around the baggage claim carousel while you wait for your luggage.
- If you golf, ditch the cart
- If you don’t golf, go for a swim, which technically isn’t walking though you’re still using your legs. It’s the ultimate cross-training workout.
MYX trainer Davanna Law has this addition to the steps list. “Rather than sitting with your morning coffee, take it on a walk,” she suggests.
She’s also got some ideas for those days when you’re stuck indoors. First up: Commercial Break Bootcamp. “I love watching TV at the end of my day,” she says. “During commercial breaks I’ll pick a different exercise to do for each break. So for instance, during the first commercial I’ll do sit-ups; commercial 2, triceps dips; commercial 3, sprawls; etc.” By the end of the show, you’ve worked a lot of body parts.
If you’re catching up on some emails, “use your chair for some seated abs,” Davanna says. “For every email you read, do 5 reverse crunches!)
Another option: a Chef’s Workout, where you’re squeezing in some moves while you make dinner. “Rather than staring at the food while it cooks, do some exercises. I like to shadowbox and make up combos while things are simmering.”
Last but not least: “We all try to avoid endlessly scrolling on social media,” Davanna says, “but the truth is it takes up a huge chunk of our free time these days. If you know you’re about to ‘go on the scroll,’ do it in a plank! Hold it for as long as you can, rest, then pop up again when you're ready. That way you stay up to date, and also strengthen your core.”