We all know how important it is to get more physical activity. If not simply for aesthetics or weight loss, moving our bodies frequently can have a positive impact on our mental and emotional health. However, between full-time jobs, running to appointments, trying to get dinner on the table, and getting the kids to bed, that 30 to 40 minutes of daily exercise feels like a dream that will never be materialized. Most of us would just like five minutes alone in the bathroom.
When life has you running and that 40 minutes of exercise seems impossible to fit in, try these small, easy moves to keep you toned and moving throughout the day. All of them can be done while you are doing other activities, making them the perfect fit for multitaskers.
The trick is to stay conscious and intentional throughout the day. Remember to practice these moves every chance you get and by the end of the day, you’ll have given yourself a full body workout.
Wake Up Call.
1. Greet the Sun. When your alarm beeps in the morning, instead of dragging yourself to the coffee pot the moment you open your eyes, try a sun salutation to get your blood flowing.
2. Shape those calves…while brushing your teeth. How to do it: Stand with your feet a hips width apart and stay strong through your thighs. Pop up onto your toes, hold for a moment, then lower your heels to the ground. If you brush your teeth for two minutes, that’s a lot of calf raises and a beautiful smile.
While you apply your makeup, give your bum and hips a slim down.
3. Side Leg Lifts: This move works your outer thighs and it’s easy to perform while you multitask. Balance on one leg, contract your leg muscles, and slowly lift the leg you are working to the side. Hold for a moment, then slowly lower. Repeat as many times as you want, but be sure to save time to do the other leg.
Want to work those pesky inner thighs? The same move can be done to target the inner thighs by simply extending the leg to the front, squeezing the inner thigh, and pulsing up and down.
4. Standing Hamstring Curl: Give your butt a lift. Balance on one leg and bend the working leg at the knee. Keep your foot pointed, your buttocks tight, and contract the hamstring muscle which runs along the back of your thigh. Slowly bring the toes to meet your bum, hold for a moment, then slowly release back to the floor. Perform a set of ten or more and repeat on the other side.
Work your abs and glutes on the morning commute. Perform these moves long enough and you won’t even have to think about them. Make it a goal to perform a set at every light.
6. Abs Contractions: Sit up tall, spine straight, and contract your abs in as tightly as you can. Hold for fifteen seconds, pulling deeper into your core the longer you hold it. Exhale gently, relax muscles, then contract again. Ten reps is a set.
7. Glute Contractions: Sit up straight and contract the muscles in your tush. Hold for 15 seconds and then release. Perform sets of ten for a tighter backside. This is probably the easiest move you’ll ever do. The key is forming the habit to perform the move anytime you are sitting or standing still.
Get in shape at the office with these thigh and ab shaping moves.
8. Thigh Toners: Aside from the recommendation to take the stairs whenever you get the chance, most of us are seated for the greater part of the day when we work in an office. Try this move to slim down the front of your thighs. It is so subtle, no one will even notice that you are doing it.
Flex your foot and raise your leg straight under your desk. Feel the top of your thigh tighten as you hold. Slowly lower your foot to the floor and repeat with the opposite leg. You could do this all day if you wanted to!
9. Tush Tightener: This one is so good it deserves mentioning twice. Set a goal to tighten your glutes for 15 seconds every time you press Send on an email. Write a reminder for yourself on a sticky note and place it somewhere you can see until it becomes second nature.
Sneak in some extra ab work by contracting your abs and holding the entire time you are on the phone. You’ll be feeling those abs by the end of the day and you’ll never even do a situp.
10. On-Your-Way-to-a-Six-Pack: This move is so easy and subtle, no one will ever know you’re doing it. But wow, does it work those abs.
Sit up tall in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and contract your stomach muscles in as tightly as you can. Lift one foot off the floor no more than six inches. Your knees will still be bent at 90 degrees. Hold for ten seconds, then release your stomach as you slowly lower the foot to the ground. Repeat with the other leg.
Workout while you cook.
11. Firm Those Inner Thighs with Plies: Channel your inner ballerina while waiting for the water to boil or during that last 30 seconds before a timer goes off. Sneak in this ballet move that specifically targets those inner thighs.
How to do it: Stand with your feet a hips width apart, toes turned out. Place your hands on your hips and slowly lower down. Once you reach your lowest squatting point, hold and lift your heels off the ground. Hold the pose for 5 seconds, then slowly raise your body, and at the top of the move, lower your heels back to the ground. Repeat as many times as you can.
12. The Squat: This classic move is tried and true. The human body is perfectly designed to squat down many times in the day. Take the opportunity to squat whenever you look under a counter or pick something off the floor. Be conscious of the movement and use your legs and glutes to lift yourself.
And just like the classic plies, squats are the perfect move to perform in-between tasks.
13. The Counter Top Push Up: Another move we are perfectly suited for, yet do far too little of. The easiest way to sneak push ups into your day is to do a few off the counters while you prepare the kids’ lunches or wait for the timer. Build a great meal and a great pair of arms.
14. The Plank: Ok, so who really wants to workout when all you really need is to relax in front of your favorite show for a bit? However, the benefits of this move might have you up and moving during those commercial breaks.
How to do it: Stretch out full-length on the floor as if you are doing a classic push up and support your body on your forearms and your toes. Lift your abdomen, legs, and chest up off the floor. The secret to this move is making your body into one piece of steel. Really contract in your stomach muscles and hold. Aim for a 60 second hold, then release carefully to the floor. If it takes you awhile to build up to 60 seconds, that’s okay. This is a tough move that will really target the deepest parts of your core and quickly flatten your waistline.
15. Child’s Pose: End the day with a well-deserved stretch. Lie face down in bed, then push your upper body back toward your feet, buttocks coming to rest on your heels. Hold for as long as you like, feeling the release in your back and shoulders.
So there you have it. A variety of exercises to keep you moving during the day. The key to seeing a difference with any exercise program is consistency. Develop the habit of practicing these moves whenever possible. Make a list of moves to incorporate into your day and keep several copies in the areas you spend the most time. Set a few reminders on your phone to keep these subtle moves on your mind during the day.
We all need regular exercise time, but for those busy individuals who love to multitask, these moves are an added bonus to your exercise program.