13 Unexpected Ways to Fit In Cardio

by Greatist
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13 Unexpected Ways to Fit In Cardio

Greatist-Logo.jpgExercise is a key contributor to health and happiness. Beyond triggering that runner’s high, it’s associated with a higher quality of life, improved health, and a better mood. But missing a few gym sessions doesn’t mean staying active has to fall by the wayside.

Sneaking cardio into daily life can save time and improve fitness, sometimes on par with the benefits of a scheduled sweat session. And more time getting moving in our daily lives means less time sitting, which can lower the risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and early death. While intense exercise is good for us, it doesn’t completely erase the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, so making an effort to get moving throughout the day can have some serious long-term benefits.

So how much cardio is enough, and what are some ways to fit it in? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic exercise, plus two days per week of strength training.

Whether it’s 30 continuous minutes of activity or three 10-minute sessions, we’ve got 13 simple ways to get more active for even the busiest person, whether at home, work, or play. Just keep in mind calories burned varies depending on age, build, gender, and weight.

1. Be a stair master: But consider taking them one at a time, not two.Researchers found that while the rate of caloric expenditure is higher when taking two at a time, the burn over an entire flight is more when taking one at a time. In one study, participants climbed a 15-meter stairway five times a day with an average of 302 calories burned per week using one step and 266 calories per week using the double step.

2. Walk and talk: Hold walking meetings with co-workers. While moderate walking uses almost two-and-a-half times the energy of sitting in a meeting, mobile meetings can also strengthen work relationships, improve health, and boost creativity.

3. Please stand up: Think of your ring tone as an alarm to get up out of the chair. Throw in a few bodyweight exercises before sitting back down (and check out this list for some great ideas).

4. Hydrate often: Getting lots of H2O means more trips to the bathroom (drinking water might also help ramp up metabolism). Pick a bathroom on a different floor, and visit it often.

5. No more lazy layovers: Stuck in the airport because of a delayed flight? Don’t just sit there. Do terminal laps — but skip the moving sidewalks!

6. Ditch the drive: Bike or walk to work instead. In addition to adding stress, commuting via public transportation or car can rack up sitting time and lead to weight gain. Just make sure to follow some basic safety precautions and rules of the road!

7. Clean machine: Chores — they have to get done, so why not make them into a workout? Vacuuming can burn about 75 calories per half-hour, while washing the car uses more than double that.

8. Made in the shade: While running errands, park in the shadiest spot, not the closest, to log more steps and keep the car cool.

9. Take a lap (or three!): Browsing the perimeter of a grocery store can do more than just promote healthy food choices. Take a couple of laps to compare prices and rack up some steps! Pushing a cart around the grocery store uses 105 to 155 calories in a half-hour. Bonus points for lugging home the groceries.

10. Hit the dance floor: Shake it to your favorite beat. Just 30 minutes — or about seven or eight songs — of fast dancing can use up 180 to 266 calories.

11. Take an active date: Challenge your date to a game of tennis. In addition to burning 210 to 311 calories in 30 minutes, tennis may improve bone health, reduce risk for cardiovascular disease, and lower body fat. Looking for more options to give dates a fitness twist? We’ve got plenty of ideas for any season.

12. “Shopping is my cardio”: Words of wisdom from Carrie Bradshaw. Except that a two-hour shopping expedition uses almost 300 calories, or 75 per half-hour. Enough said.

13. Game night: So-called “exergames” — such as on the Kinect or Wii Fit Plus— have been shown to increase energy expenditure up to three times more than just sitting. But while these games are better than parking on the couch, energy burn can vary quite a bit depending on the game.

Exercise doesn’t have to be done at the gym, on a track, or even in workout clothes. Little bits of exercise throughout the day can add up — just get creative! Pair some of these sneaky cardio boosters with unexpected strength training to vary the routine and meet the weekly recommendations for exercise.

—by Emily Shoemaker for Greatist

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  • Atarah

    I like the fitness date idea!

  • Tracy Fox Chamney

    i do disco dancing in my office chair! ok, my bum sort of stays in my seat but I can really ramp up my heart rate with a good jiggle- dont forget to stomp those feet while your doing it and the heart really gets going!

  • ocalamama

    Very hot in Florida in the summer and this summer I wore a back brace that was also very hot. So I set the timer on the micro and walked laps around all the rooms in the house til it buzzed. Great exercise without the heat exhaustion while I recovered from back surgery. So glad when they told me to walk in the pool! But I still do the house laps.

  • snclr

    instead of watching commercials on tv. walk around your house or apartment for 2 minutes – walk through the kitchen & pick up a can of soup or 2. depending on how many shows you watch in an evening the minutes add up fast

  • Cami

    I’ve seen different things like the “Harry Potter Workout” that you do while watching the movie. Every time someone says a spell you do 10 pushups or when someone rides a broomstick do 15 squats (for example). If you are going to watch the movie anyway you might as well get some exercise while doing it! That concept can be applied to just about any movie or TV show.

  • Bessie Moncada

    I like

  • Sandra Greenbaum

    hi arewethereyet?…are you here?

  • Ginger Brooks

    I love the ideas, I work sitting at a desk and I think these will really help people as kind of it gets into the hands. So keep sharing.

  • Hi Emily – All great suggestions! I think for a lot of 9-5 folks, it is hard to remember how important even the smallest movements can make. One suggestion I would make is to get up every hour and go for a walk around the office. The app on my phone buzzes at me if I’ve been sitting too long so it is a great reminder. What do you think of that?

  • Kelli Johnson

    These are some really good ideas for doing exercises without really working out per se. Thanks for giving me some additional ideas.