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14 Ways to get an extra fitness boost from everyday activities

You know you’re supposed to exercise, and eat right, and stop watching so much TV… and all those other “have tos” designed to keep you healthy.

And yet life has this way of making 30 minutes at the gym feel like a giant imposition. Sometimes workouts just go out the window.

The good news is that even if you can’t make it to Zumba, you can still add activity to your life in a way that boosts health. In fact, recent research from the University of London found that the increase in obesity seen over the last three decades is linked to a decrease in overall daily activity, not necessarily to a direct increase in calorie intake or a decrease in time engaged in structured exercise. In other words, if you increase your daily activity significantly, you might still be able to boost your health, even if you can’t always make it to the gym.

But here’s the catch: How do you know if you’re boosting daily activity? The easy answer is to track it. According to a 2015 statement from the American Heart Association, wearable fitness devices, such as the Fitbit charge HR™, may help people improve their health behaviors. By monitoring steps and daily mileage accumulated (aim for roughly 10,000 steps or about four to five miles a day), you can blast calories and improve your health even if you miss a cycling class.

More: Exercise tips for women who suck at exercising

1. Wall squat while brushing your teeth

Fire up those quads as you shine your pearly whites. Simply lean back against a wall, step your feet 18 inches in front of you, then slide down into a seated position so your knees form a 90-degree angle. Hold the position while you brush your teeth (c’mon, you know that should be a minimum of 60 seconds!). Do this twice a day, and you’ll feel it in your quads, glutes and hamstrings.

2. Counter pushups while fixing breakfast

Unless you’re actively monitoring a hot stove, chances are part of your breakfast prep requires little engagement. While your oatmeal’s in the microwave or your bread is in the toaster, put your counters to good use, and bust out a set of counter pushups to fire up your chest, core and triceps.

3. Seated planks while driving

OK, so these aren’t actual planks, but the concept is similar, as it engages the core and helps improve posture. Sit up straight so your ears are above your shoulders and your shoulders are above your hips. Relax your shoulders, and engage your abs, drawing them back toward your spine. Hold for 15 seconds, release, and repeat. Do as many sets as you can every time you’re in the car.

4. Park at the back of the lot, and walk

Whether you’re at work or the store, parking farther away ensures you’ll rack up extra steps, and believe it or not, every little bit helps.

5. Only take the stairs

For real. Only take the stairs. Not only does stair-climbing increase overall physical activity, but it also requires greater lower body engagement since you’re literally lifting your own body weight up and down the steps. Hello, hot legs!

6. Host walking meetings

Sure, you can sit at your desk while meeting with your co-workers, but why? Most meetings don’t actually require a pen and pad at the ready, so there’s no reason you can’t walk and talk. If you’re worried you’ll forget important details, use a recording app on your smartphone, and take audio notes as you walk.

7. Pace while talking on the phone

Again, you don’t need to sit while chatting it up. Take that call on your feet, and pace as you talk. If you’re on a conference call where your input isn’t immediately needed, try adding squats, chair dips and lunges to the mix for increased muscular engagement.

8. Stretch while reading documents

Last time I checked, reading documents and emails at your desk doesn’t actually require your hands on the keyboard. While reading, go ahead and reset your posture, and engage in back, chest and arm stretches to loosen you up and release stress.

More: 10 Stretches you can do at your desk

9. Take an extra lap while shopping

Whether you’re at the mall or the grocery store, there’s no rule that says you have to start shopping at point A and take the most direct route to point B. Instead, park at the opposite side of the store from where you intend to start shopping, walk all the way to your starting point, then take the loopiest, most roundabout path as you pick up your goods. Sure, it’ll add extra time to your shopping trip, but it’ll be a negligible addition when all’s said and done.

10. Take individual trips while doing chores

If you need to run laundry upstairs to three different rooms, don’t take it all in one trip; take three trips. Likewise, instead of taking all your groceries inside in one trip, take them bag by bag. (Bonus points if you do bicep curls or shoulder presses with the bags as you go.)

11. Dance while cooking

Throw on your favorite jams, and bust a move while cooking. Thirty minutes in the kitchen is like half a Zumba workout!

12. Use commercials as fitness breaks

No one’s going to ask you to stop watching How to Get Away with Murder, but instead of fast-forwarding through commercial breaks, turn them into fitness breaks. Do lunges during the first break, planks during the second break, leg lifts during the third and jumping jacks during the fourth. Continue cycling through each exercise till your show is over.

13. Walk or bike to the park

Family time doesn’t need to be spent on the couch or in the car. If you’re within walking or biking distance of a park, get active after dinner, and head to the playground. Not only will walking to the park increase your activity level, but once you’re there, you can do a whole workout.

More: How to walk for fitness the right way

14. Trade board games for exergames

Even on nights when you want to stay close to home, you can increase your family’s activity with exergames. Board games like Flip2BFit, card games like Yoga Spinner and the ever-popular video game systems like Wii Fit and Xbox Kinect are all ways to bond over competition and fitness.

This post was brought to you by Fitbit®.

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