You already know that exercise is good for you. The notion that physical activity helps keep us healthy is very old news. But, did you know that you don’t need to make time for an elaborate workout?
An 18-month study at the University of Pittsburgh found that doing three 10-minute bursts of exercise daily was as beneficial for weight loss and Matters of the Heart" heart health as a single 30-minute workout. The trick is to figure out what to do in those few minutes.
In the spirit of finding ways to get your body moving, here are 20 suggestions for ways to become a little bit more physically active, ten minutes at a time.
1. Take the far away spot. Walking from the farthest corner of the parking lot will burn a few calories. If it’s a parking garage, head for the roof and use the stairs.
2. Walk to the next stop. Walk to the next store while shopping. Or, take a walk around your building on your lunch hour.
3. Watch TV. But during commercials, do a few sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks or just walk about the house. Or, buy an exercise ball to sit on while watching TV or working at your desk to help strengthen your core.
4. Walk and talk. If you talk on the phone a lot during the day, walk or do stretches while you talk.
5. Walk while you watch. Soccer moms, dads and grandparents can circle the field several times during a game and not miss a single play. Don’t just sit and watch your kids at the playground, take a walk.
6. Walk tall. Maintaining good posture — chest out, shoulders square but relaxed, stomach in — will help keep your back and abdominal muscles in shape. Besides, you’ll just look a whole lot healthier if you don’t slouch. (Mom was right).
7. Adopt someone as your walking, jogging or biking buddy. Adding a social element to exercise helps many people stick with it.
8. That buddy might have four legs. Several studies have shown that dog owners get more exercise than the canine-less.
9. Be part of the fun. Adults shouldn’t miss a chance to jump into the fray if kids are playing on a playground or splashing around in the water. Climbing on the jungle gym and swinging on a swing will strengthen muscles and bones and set a good example.
10. Put on your dancing shoes. Exercise doesn’t have to be done in a straight line. Dancing can get your heart going and helps with balance. Dance classes tend to have lower dropout rates than gyms. Or, just turn up the volume at home and dance while you do household chores.
Page 2 of 2 - 11. Wash and dry the dishes by hand. The drying alone is a mini-workout for the arms.
12. Clean house. Vacuum for fifteen minutes and burn around 80 calories. Strap on some wrist weights while you vacuum and build some muscle. Wash some windows and do some dusting and you have a pretty decent workout — and a cleaner house.
13. Actively wait for your coffee. Get a mini trampoline for the kitchen and jump and bounce on it for the time it takes your coffee to brew in the morning.
14. Go swimming. Swimming is great exercise if you have arthritis because the water supports your weight, taking the load off of joints. The humid air around a pool sometimes makes breathing more comfortable for people with lung problems.
15. Don’t email. At the office, get out of your chair, walk down the hallway and talk to the person. At home, write an old-fashioned letter and walk to a mailbox — and not the nearest one — to mail it.
16. Stand up from your desk. Breaking up long periods of sitting has metabolic benefits. Even standing for a minute or two can help. Take some deep breaths and stretch out all those tight muscles.
17. Brush and step. Get a small non-skid step stool to keep in the bathroom and do steps while you brush your teeth in the morning.
18. Be a stair master. Take the stairs, instead of the elevator or escalator, whenever you can. It’s good for your legs and knees, and your cardiovascular health will benefit from the little bit of huffing and puffing.
19. Stairs tip No. 2. You’ll give the gluteal muscles a nice little workout if you can climb up two stairs at a time. Or, try going up the stairs sideways.
20. Stairs tip No. 3. You can give your calf muscles a nice little stretch by putting the ball of the foot on the stair and lowering your heel.
Work in these tips on a daily basis and soon you will be getting a good workout without even realizing it.
Anita Marlay, R.D., L.D., is a dietitian in the cardiac rehab department at Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach, Mo.