Exercise For Busy People

Don't have time to exercise? Try these tips to work a little extra physical activity into each day to tighten muscles and burn calories.

Balancing a hectic work schedule and family life afterwards can be draining for the most energetic person. No matter how sincere our good intentions, sometimes it seems impossible to make time for a routine physical fitness program. Sure, you might take a weekly walk with the dog, but that isn't enough to keep your stamina up and your blood pressure down. Here are a few suggestions for building physical activity into a typical busy day. Get your doctor's permission before increasing your physical activity, however:

1. Walk the extra mile. Not literally, perhaps, but walk whenever you can to get a little extra movement out of your schedule. For example, jaunt up two flights of steps instead of taking an elevator. Deliver a message in person down the hall instead of calling or emailing it. Walk to the mailbox at the end of the driveway instead of sending your ten-year-old. Explore every aisle at the grocery store rather than stopping only at the ones on your list. We're on our feet all day, so put them to good use wherever they take you.

2. March in place. Even during stationary activities you can get rid of extra calories and tone leg muscles. Stand rather than sit before the television during your favorite sit-com and walk or march in place. During commercials, pick up the beat a bit until you feel warm or breathe a little heavier. Don't push yourself to the point where you can't easily talk, however. You may even want to add a few arm stretches as you move in place.

3. Rock and roll. If you must sit for certain activities, such as knitting, choose a rocking chair and move it back and forth. Even gentle rocking movements can eliminate a few calories from your legs, abdomen, and hips, and rocking actually helps the digestive system work more effectively than if you were sitting still. True, this is a low-energy way to exercise, but it may be better than nothing.

4. Fidget at work. While sitting at your desk, jostle your feet up and down rhythmically to keep them moving. This can help improve blood circulation and tighten calf muscles. Every hour or so, stand up and stretch gently without tearing your muscles, reaching arms high and bending from side to side a moment or two. (You may want to do this out of your coworkers' sight.) Even slight movements can add up over the course of a few days.

5. Have fun. Get outside and shoot some hoops with your kids. Play tag with the dog. Plant seeds in the garden. Take a walk with your spouse. It needn't be strenuous when you start doing these things; a little at first will help you become more active and perhaps even develop an appreciation for physical movement.

Don't worry about joining a health club or taking up jogging. Make your transition from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active one in small steps. Enjoy the feeling of movement and gentle exercise of your muscles, and soon you may be doing it more often, and with good results!

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