No time for exercise? Make time to move!

woman takes time to move outdoors while on a call
Chris Cooper
PT, DPT
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Redefine how you look at exercise by taking advantage of daily movement opportunities.

Don’t have time for exercise? It is time to reframe what true exercise and movement looks and feels like. 

Exercise does not require a gym, special equipment, or high intensity. Down to its core, exercise is simply movement. Despite being busy, most of us have plenty of time to move around every day. The key, then, is to optimize these moments to your benefit by “snacking” on movement throughout the day. 

With the holiday season behind us and the new year ahead of us, exercise is often at the forefront of our minds as most are feeling inspired by the new year and all its possibilities and ready to shed any extra pounds put on through November and December. But many of us do not know where to start. 

The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition suggests adults need at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate activity each week. We tend to believe these minutes have to be done in large blocks of time but it could easily be broken down into smaller amounts that are more manageable with all of the other demands on our lives. 

Any mindful movement is better than no movement and can have a positive impact on your day. It is advised that people do not underestimate both the long- and short-term benefits of movement … especially this time of year.  

Regular “exercise” and movement often help reduce stress and improve focus and energy levels, while also improving your mood during the shorter, darker days of the winter season. This, of course, is in addition to the more wide-ranging health benefits most people are familiar: managing healthy weight, reducing the risk of disease and need for medications, strengthening bones and muscles and improving brain health and function. 

mom and daughter take time to move during a break from their daily routine

What can you do, then, if you find you do not have time to hit the gym or go for that morning jog? Here are 5 tips for turning typical daily moments into opportunities for “exercise.”

Walking is one of the best and most inclusive exercises out there. So, next time you have a meeting scheduled, suggest making it a mobile meeting by walking and talking outdoors, through the hallways of your building, or whatever setting is most pedestrian friendly. 

It is obvious that taking the stairs instead of the elevator can offer you a dose of additional exercise each day by placing a higher demand on your heart and through engaging your leg muscles. Make the stairs part of a regular routine. 

Each flight of stairs can burn 2.5-5 calories per trip

Even if you have no place to go, burn off some steam by walking the stairs over breaks and during the lunch hour. 

Consider walking sideways up/down the stairs to engage your muscles differently and/or skipping one on the way up. 

man takes the stairs

While you do not necessarily need a gym to exercise, it pays lifelong dividends to take advantage of your membership — if you have one. But do not go there in lieu of work, go there with work. Catch up on reading, emails, or other work tasks while walking, cycling, or using the elliptical. Consider finishing your gym “work” session with 5 cleansing deep breaths to refocus your mind on your body and to find gratitude for your day acknowledging your efforts of balancing work and wellness. 

Whether indoors or out, do not underestimate the effectiveness of housework and yardwork as exercise! Just throw on some music, pick up the pace, and throw yourself wholeheartedly into the efforts of cleaning and maintaining your home and yard while making sure to keep good body mechanics and awareness of core engagement to protect yourself from injury.  

man actively spends time cleaning house

Being aware of sustained positions and postures that you find yourself in can help you break patterns of movement or postural restrictions. Every 15-20 minutes of sustained position you could take 10-15 seconds to stand up, walk around your chair and sit back down, raise your arms overhead, open and close your hands, stand up and reach for your toes, turn your head right and left … the list of small movements you can take goes on and on. It is often easier to digest even the thought of taking “movement snacks” and micro-breaksrather than large “meals” of exercise that take a chunk of time that seems less manageable given the number of tasks that are required of you daily. 

The benefits of daily movement are innumerable and will enhance your longevity and life enjoyment. There is no need to search “gyms near me” when you can find ways to exercise in the otherwise mundane. Consider these tips to move more every day to feel your best. 

Visit a Physical Therapist: If other factors such as pain, endurance or movement limitations are keeping you from making exercise a priority in your life, or you simply need help finding a regimen that works best for you, visit with one of the physical therapists at Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy. We are here to assess and assist you with a custom program based on your specific needs. 

Start your physical therapy journey today.

As physical therapists, we know the importance of movement for overall health and well-being. From injury recovery to achieving optimal performance, our passion is to help every patient reach their goals and live an active, pain-free life. Get started with PT today!

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