Maybe your schedule is too chaotic. Or maybe you can't afford a gym membership. Or maybe you simply don't enjoy sports or aerobics classes or running on a treadmill. But even if you don't carve out time each day to work out, you can still get — and stay — in shape.
According to Claudia Gidea, MD, a cardiologist at Rush University Medical Center, there are lots of ways to sneakily burn calories and tone muscle. "The important thing is to get moving and get your heart pumping," says Gidea. "And if you're enjoying yourself, you'll be more likely to stick with an activity than if you view exercise as hard work."
With that in mind, she offers the following tips on how to get the health benefits of exercise without feeling like you’re exercising:
Pace While You Talk
Can't carve out time to catch up with your friends or exercise? Try pacing or, weather permitting, going outside and walking around your neighborhood while you talk on the phone. It's a great way to stay in shape — and stay in touch. Just make sure to watch where you’re walking so you don't stumble or run into obstacles, and if you’re outside steer clear of areas with a lot of car or bicycle traffic.
Tend to Your Garden
Even if you don't have a green thumb, some simple gardening, such as mowing the lawn, raking leaves, shoveling dirt and pulling weeds, can help you tone your muscles and burn calories, says Gidea. Just make sure to stretch out before and after your yard work, and use proper form when doing these tasks to protect your back and prevent pulled muscles.
Cruise the Mall
You may see groups of mall-walkers when you go to pick up a new pair of jeans or the latest smart phone — and they have the right idea. "Even if you’re just planning to visit one specific store, take a few minutes to walk briskly through the rest of the building," Gidea recommends. "Exercise and steps are both cumulative, so a few circuits around the mall will help you reach the recommended daily totals of 30 minutes and 10,000 steps."
Engage in Child's Play
Running around after kids can actually give you a decent workout, so instead of reading or surfing on your phone while your children play, join in the fun. You'll burn calories and work your muscles pushing a swing, climbing ladders, giving piggyback rides, or playing games such as tag and hide-and-seek. Walking or riding bikes to and from the park or playground provides extra exercise for both you and the little ones. Or, pull the kids back and forth in a wagon to really get your heart pumping, says Gidea.
Do a Little Dance
It's no secret that professional dancers are in incredible shape, but you don't have to be a pro to reap the health benefits of dancing. Put on your favorite CD or play list and dance around your living room or bedroom. A 150-pound person can burn 95 calories dancing for just 15 minutes — that's four to five songs — and dancing is also a great way to relieve stress.
You Might Also Like ...
- Learn how to determine your target heart rate in this blog post by Jennifer Ventrelle, MS, RD, CPT, director of the lifestyle programs for the Rush University Prevention Center.
- Diane Genaze, PT, director of physical therapy at Rush, blogs about ways older adults can exercise without a trip to the gym or home exercise equipment.
- Want to add spice to your workouts? Charles Cranny, PT, MBA, clinical manager of outpatient physical therapy at Rush, offers these tips for keeping your exercise routine from becoming routine.
- Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: (888) 352-RUSH (7874).
- Stay in touch with Rush with the Rush News Blog, Rush InPerson, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.
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