Some of my most popular postings have been my “Life Hacks”, the systems or shortcuts I use to make my life more manageable, easier and overall better. If I look at my Facebook feed, I appear to be the only one of my friends who isn’t entered in a 5K, practicing for a triathlon or climbing a mountain this summer. To be honest, I really don’t like to exercise at all. I was a runner all through high school and I have worked out in the gym with the best of them, but…I still don’t like it.
A number of years ago I joined Weight Watchers just to support a family member (because, they were overweight, not me, yeah right!) and suddenly realized that I needed to somehow burn more calories in order to indulge in ice cream and cookie dough, I decided I’d better get back on the exercise treadmill (pun intended). But I still didn’t like it and it felt like a waste of time. No matter what I said or did, it was plain unfun.
Then I discovered that Weight Watchers let you count everyday household chores for activity points–OK then, game on! We suddenly had the cleanest carpets and the most dusted furniture in town. And I realized that if I could exercise in the course of my regular week AND get things done that need doing, I felt a lot more fulfilled. Plus it didn’t take away from my reading time because I was doing things that I needed to do anyway.
So I created a list of ways that I could add accidental exercise to my day without adding a lot of extra time. Here are a few:
- Park your car at the furthest spot from the door when you go to the store. Bonus: you’ll save time not driving up and down parking aisles and your car is less likely to get dings or even hit. I find that my stress level is better too, because I didn’t have to wait for people to get out of my way or try to park in a tight spot.
- Keep your ice cream in the basement freezer. This assumes you have a basement or a freezer there, but I’ve found I have to consciously think about how much I want ice cream (or any other fabulous snack) if I keep it in the basement and then have to return the carton or box to the basement immediately after dishing up a serving. If I want a second serving, back to the basement I go burning calories on the way!
- Take your spouse and your dog for a walk. This is the very best time to catch up on what’s been going on at work, brainstorm new ideas and talk about serious stuff like the budget. The dog needs walking, so make a point of doing it together and gain extra time to work on your relationship. Bonus: It is easier to talk about difficult subjects because you are both facing forward, the walk relieves stress and you are in public, so generally no yelling or crying. Extra Bonus: If you don’t have a spouse, a kid or a friend is an excellent substitute.
- Fidget. While you are watching TV or sitting at your computer desk at work, bouncing your leg, tapping your foot or any other fidgeting behavior will help you use up calories and keep your metabolism moving. Word of Caution: Try not to do this around other people, it is annoying and disruptive.
- March. I hate waiting for even five minutes for things to cook but if I walk into another room I am sure to burn the food because I will forget about it. So to combat food waste (and that awful burnt smell) I often march in place while waiting for the pot to boil or the meat to brown. Bonus: Use this technique while brushing you teeth for 3 minutes. You will fit in some extra exercise and your teeth will be super sparkly.
These are just a few of the ways that I cram exercise into my everyday life. While I am not winning any marathons (because I haven’t signed up for them), I do maintain my healthy weight and am still able to enjoy the foods I love. Next time I’ll share accidental exercise ideas for when you travel.