“Fit it in” in the New Year

Let’s face it: It’s hard enough to find time to plan out meals and regularly cook at home. So, how do we find the time to fit in physical activity on top of it all? With the busy lives we all lead, it’s no wonder physical activity usually takes a backseat. Yet with all the benefits that physical activity offers, should we really be skipping over something that could reduce risk factors and improve our quality and quantity of life?

There are multiple obstacles that get in the way of physical activity. Many of the obstacles come from the notion that you have to go to a gym, or set aside 30-60 minutes for exercise each day.  As with most obstacles in this journey to improved health if we change our thoughts the benefits are not far away.

For example, change “I have to exercise” to “I choose to be active.” Our brains like to have a choice rather than be told. A choice to be active can be taking the steps vs the elevator. A good rule is if you are going one flight up or two flights down; take the steps. Another might be if the remote is typically next to you, put it by the TV and get up to change a channel. Commit to do something active with each commercial.

If joining a gym is not possible there are multiple ways to incorporate physical activity at your home. A few ideas are:

  1. Use the counter to do standing push-ups. Stand about an arm’s length from the kitchen counter, and place your hands on the corner of the counter. Push in and out to work your arms and shoulders.
  2. Weighted exercises. Use canned items, a gallon of milk (filled with water once empty gives you an 8lb weight), or a bag of flour to incorporate weighted exercises like bicep curls or tricep kickbacks.
  3. Use a sturdy chair to do sit-to-stands. Sit on a chair with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Keep your knees aligned over your heels and reach your upper body forward until your bottom comes off the chair. Come to a full standing position before slowly returning back to the chair. Start with using your arms to help in pushing yourself up and work towards keeping your hands on your hips. This is a great exercise for leg strength.
  4. Walk in place. Take advantage of downtime! During a commercial break stand up and walk in place. Or if you are on the phone, do laps around the house while talking.
  5. Exercise DVDs. If you need some additional motivation there are multiple low-impact exercise DVDs on the market. Examples include: walking DVDs, chair dancing/aerobics/yoga DVDs, Zumba DVDs, and so much more. Look for low-impact beginner workouts to start. Used book stores and libraries have many of these to choose from.

Are you a social person? A group exercise is a great place to meet people with similar goals. If group exercise is not an option, set up a phone-a-friend. Connect with someone you are accountable to for being active; maybe call and chat during your active time.

In the end remember, it doesn’t have to be a 30- to 60-minute workout to count, active minutes here and there add up! You can do this; you are worth being active.