Ever feel like the carpool lane and the fast lane are one and the same? Back-to-school season has that way of upping the ante on your already busy schedule. And as the days get shorter this fall, making it to the gym on a regular basis can seem like a practically impossible goal. Luckily, your fitness plans don’t have to be derailed as you start a new routine. Now that school is back in session, it’s easy to score some “extra credit” by working these nine tiny tweaks into your routine.
1. Give up your seat
If colder temperatures have driven you to ditch your bike and head back to commuting via public transit, try standing up on the bus or train instead of sitting down to work your core. “As each stop approaches, bend your knees slightly and tighten your abs to stay upright,” recommends Alissa Rumsey, RD, a certified strength and conditioning specialist.
2. Make your desk multifunctional
Once you’re in the office, look at your desk like a piece of gym equipment, says Noam Tamir, founder of TS Fitness. Start by doing some incline pushups and varying the width of your hands to target your chest, triceps and shoulders. “You can even progress this by standing on one foot or bringing that one foot into your chest as you lower your body towards the desk to use more of your core,” says Tamir. That’s extra credit plus bonus points.
3. Take conference calls on the go
Next time you have to dial in, do it from your cell phone so you can walk away from your desk and get a few steps in. Take a couple of laps around the office or, if you don’t have to worry about being near your computer, take your steps outside.
4. Get your balance
For those calls where you are stuck at your desk, Tamir suggests doing some single-leg balancing exercises to get the glutes working. Stand with one leg out in front of you for 30 seconds and then switch. “It’s a great way to get those glutes, quads and core working in addition to being a nice way to work on your stability,” he says.
5. Think outside the box
“Doing some planking on the wall on [your] forearms or on hands is a great way to get some bonus isometric fitness in,” says Tamir. To do this, place your feet a few feet away from the wall, and keep your core tight as you lean toward the wall on your hands or forearms. “Visualize bringing your belt buckle to your spine and squeezing your glutes,” he says. “This will get your heart rate up and your muscles working.”
6. Get your heart going
Being busy isn’t an excuse to forgo cardio, especially if you’re sitting all day. Try to squeeze in a few jump squats every time you get up to get coffee or a snack to get your heart rate up.
7. Up the ante on your errands
After leaving the office, turn your list of errands into a little bonus fitness time. Rumsey recommends speed walking: “Put on a pair of sneakers, and get your heart rate up as you walk between stores.” If you’re driving, park in the farthest spot and use a shopping basket instead of a cart to score a little extra strength training and steps as you walk back to the car.
8. Ignore the escalator
Rumsey’s mantra: When available, always take the stairs. “If an escalator is the only option, don’t just stand there – walk up or down the stairs,” she says.
9. Do double duty brushing your teeth
Before you turn in, there’s one last chance to score some extra credit. “Do wall sits as you brush your teeth,” says Rumsey. “Sink down into a squat position against the wall with your knees at 90 degrees. Hold it there as you brush your teeth for one minute.”