When it comes to finding time to work out, the struggle is very real. Because after an extremely long day at work, getting your booty to the gym is damn-near impossible. It’s not that you don’t want to exercise, it’s just that you’re super pooped and you need some time to decompress.
We hear that. These simple tricks will turn your day into a sort of workout, without actually requiring you to work out. While trainers have some pretty great advice about what to do when you’re at the gym, they also have some genius tips for adding more calorie-burning, muscle-strengthening minutes of exercise throughout your non-gym, spandex-free hours. Get ready to fire up those muscles.
1. Work while you prepare for your day.
Brushing your teeth or your hair? Putting makeup on? It’s so easy to turn these daily rituals into low-key workouts. Becky Hempel, head trainer at DavidBartonGym, suggests simply standing on one leg while you do them. If you’re feeling adventurous (and awake), maybe even try some squats. Because two minutes of teeth brushing + two minutes of squats = 11 calories burned*.
*Note: All of the calorie calculations apply to a woman who weighs 135 pounds. If you’re looking for something more specific to your body type, you can adjust those calculations here.
2. Power walk to and from everywhere.
Simply picking up the pace while walking can do a lot. Five minutes at a slow pace will burn about 13 calories, while the same amount of time at a brisk pace will burn 20 calories. So speed it up wherever you go, even if it’s just to the bathroom. Bonus: It’ll make you look super important.
3. Get off the bus or train a stop early.
Danielle Devine-Baum, Flywheel master instructor and creative director, loves this trick. If your morning commute relies heavily on public transportation, this is a great way to amp things up early in your day. Obviously, you’ll want to give yourself a little extra time to get to and from places (no matter how quickly you walk, it won’t be as fast as a bus or train). Even if it’s just a 10-minute walk at a brisk pace that’s 41 more calories than you would have been burning—and it’s good for your overall health, too.
4. And if you drive to work, park far away.
As with getting off the bus or train a stop early, Devine-Baum says the same rules apply to parking your car farther away. Again, make sure you aren’t running late by planning ahead of time. And remember, an extra 10 minutes of quick walking can burn around 41 calories.
5. Take the stairs, NOT the elevator.
If you have regular access to stairs, this trick is simple and extremely effective. Just five minutes of stair climbing will help you burn around 48 calories. Plus, climbing stairs is an amazing workout for your legs and butt.
6. Leave your desk for lunch.
Turn off that delivery app! Stepping out of your office for lunch is great for both your mental and physical health. Try to log a 10-minute brisk walk AND take the stairs when you return—you’ll be feeling SO refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day. Remember, those little 10-minute breaks will add up, so if you parked farther away and did a few laps at lunch, by the time you get home you’ll have logged a total of 30 minutes of walking. Go you!
7. Only make phone calls when you’re in motion.
Is that your mom calling? Take it outside and go for a walk while chatting. If it’s too cold out, consider pacing around your apartment. A 20-minute call while walking at a moderate pace will burn about 71 calories.
8. Use your kitchen counter as an at-home barre while you wait for your food to cook.
Kitchen counters are great for more than just meal prep. Use the one in your kitchen and do a few strength exercises while your food is in the microwave. These moves are easy to do and specifically designed for your kitchen counter—15 minutes of circuit training will burn about 128 calories.
9. While grocery shopping, use a basket instead of a cart.
This trick is especially useful if you’re on a heavy duty grocery shopping trip. The more you have in your basket, the more of a subtle workout you’ll get. Carrying a heavy basket of food for 20 minutes will burn about 64 calories.
10. Choose the longer line at the checkout.
Devine-Baum loves this trick—while waiting, she’ll do super simple standing toe taps by just tapping her feet in front of her (calf raises work, too). Even if you don’t feel like trying out a move in a crowded grocery store, simply stand and hold your now-full basket of groceries (keep that core tight!).
11. Wash your dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher.
Seriously! If you’re going to be doing this chore anyways, it’s nice to know you’re getting an extra benefit from all of that elbow grease—10 minutes of general cleaning will burn about 32 calories.
—By Audrey Bruno