Have you ever told yourself you don’t have time to workout?
Sure you have!
How do I know?
Because I have done it!
I OWN a gym – how is it possible to validate that I don’t have time to workout??
I do understand where that can be a VERY strong voice in your head telling you that you don’t have time to workout…
The reality is that regardless of your goal (weight loss, hypertrophy, or strength) you do not need to workout everyday of the week.
Truthfully, you probably shouldn’t anyway.
BUT that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t move your body DAILY.
Even on my busiest days, the days where I genuinely don’t have time to workout, I still build in time and strategies for movement throughout my day.
My body, just like yours, can lose weight and lean out even without sweat pouring off of me.
You may think the little movements that you do throughout the day aren’t doing that much, but they do burn calories that can really contribute to weight loss.
These activities you do throughout the day make up your NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis). These activities do not include sleeping or exercise, but can be things like walking around, lifting things at work, house chores, or yard work.
NEAT plays a critical role in how we maintain our bodyweight, for it accounts for a large percentage of our energy needs.
But NEAT isn’t high just from folding a load of laundry…
It takes a regular workout program to build muscle to BURN calories throughout the day.
It takes a consistent diet that doesn’t include too many highs and lows of intake.
It takes consistent and deliberately planned activity.
Boosting your NEAT can be a game changer for your weight loss goals, so here are 12 strategies for adding more movement to your day!
What’s louder the creaking of your joints and muscles or your actual alarm in the morning?
Some mornings it is hard to tell….
Find 5 minutes in your morning – those 5 minutes can come from setting your alarm 5 minutes earlier, eliminating your morning social media scroll, or during your morning news viewing.
Give your body a nice full body stretch to get the blood flowing and push out some of the toxins and particles that settled in and made you feel stiff.
It doesn’t have to be strenuous or long, and if done correctly, could even be done in your work clothes.
I promise you it’s a game changer that will allow you to start your day off feeling a little fresher.
Personally, I love to take a shower and get dressed and THEN get my morning stretch on before the hustle and bustle of packing and heading out the door for the day.
Here is a simple routine that I follow:
- Neck Circles (Both directions)
- Shoulder Rolls (Forward and backwards)
- Wrist Circles (Both directions)
- Hip Circles (Both directions)
- Knee Circles (Both directions)
- Ankle Circles (Both Directions)
- T-Spine Rotations
- Cat Cows
- Hip Flexor Stretch
Add a brief walk after that morning stretch, and you will really improve your morning blood flow!
Now, most often people instantly respond with a rebuttal when I recommend a morning walk, and I get it because so many of us think going for a walk has to be long in order to lead to any benefits.
This walk isn’t meant to be a workout, it’s just meant to get the blood flowing, the muscles pumping, and spark some additional calorie burn.
Go for a walk around the block or to the end of the street and back.
Set a timer for 5 minutes and just walk. Once it goes off, turn around and come back.
“But I live in Minnesota and it’s winter all year long!”
Oh, I get it – remember, I live in Minnesota too!
Regardless the snowy state you live in, a morning walk is still an option.
If bundling up and venturing to the cold is not something you’re going to do, then take a morning walk around the house. Top to bottom, cover every floor, and walk to the outer edges of the room.
Small apartment or townhome?
Still not a problem – use your stairs, hallways, or simply set a timer for 5 minutes and walk in place.
Park Further Away
When I was a kid, my dad would ALWAYS park as far away as possible from the door, and my sister and I HATED it.
We’d complain as he passed up all the open spots – in fact, I think we would even ask him to drop us off at the front of the store.
Every time he would tell us that a few extra steps won’t kill us.
That’s so true.
I’m not saying you need to park in the LAST possible spot, but next time you go to the store, pass up the closest spot and opt for one a few spots further away.
As I’ve gotten older, I have found parking further away to have an added benefit. The walk in the store really allows me to clear my head and set my intention before entering the store, which saves me a lot of unnecessary purchases.
Take the Stairs
Like so many other things in this world, elevators are a great invention for practicality, but NOT for health.
When is the last time you took the stairs up to work?
Do you even know where the stairs are?
While I was working downtown, a woman (who had worked in the building for a few years) told me she didn’t know stairs were even an option in the building.
Find them, and then USE them.
It doesn’t have to be a run up the stairs or a serious workout like it was during high school sports or your last major workout kick.
Keep it light, slow, and simple.
Even if you start by taking the stairs DOWN, you’re going to add significantly more steps to your day!
Take the Long Way
This is a hard one for me.
I am wired to find and utilize the most efficient way possible, so when it comes to taking the long way, I have to consciously think about it.
I grew up with a dad who ALWAYS wanted to take the shortcut (he says it in a SPECIAL way, and I can still hear it), so I have to take time to think about how I can add a bit more movement to my route.
Maybe instead of cutting through the clothing section at Target, you walk to the end of the aisle and take the main aisle.
Walk all the way to the end of the sidewalk and turn right instead of cutting across the lawn.
These are little things that take conscious thought and planning but can make a BIG difference.
*I would like to note that I stopped midway through writing this one to go to the bathroom, and instead of going around my desk, I stepped up and over – I am human too!
Get Up Every Hour
I bit on the Apple Watch as soon as they came out, and one of my FAVORITE things about it is that it will remind me to get up every hour!
It is so cool that it can recognize that my rear has gotten too comfortable in my chair and it needs to be moved!
If you don’t have an Apple Watch or FitBit or whatever else there is now, you can still do it!
Set a reminder or alarm on your phone to go off every hour of your workday.
When it goes off, get up from where you are and find a way to move your body – stretch, walk, do a few exercises, or anything that gets you out of the chair.
If you’re drinking enough water or eating 5 to 6 meals per day, you’re bound to need to go to the bathroom or get some food in your system.
Now, I understand if you’re in a meeting or appointment, and you can’t just get up and leave, but don’t dismiss the alarm or reminder and get to it once you’re able!
One of the coolest things about this is that with enough practice, your body will start to crave hourly movement and eventually you won’t need phone or watch reminders because your body will do it for you!
Midday Walk or Workout
Who says you have to work through lunch?
Legally, your boss really can’t do that, so when you say that’s the case, ask yourself if that’s a “can’t” or “won’t” scenario.
I recognize the unique scenarios, so please don’t sick your boss on me; however, I do think it’s important you know you are allowed to move your body.
One of the greatest things about our shift toward healthier lifestyles is that most bosses and co-workers are on board with you. There are SO many businesses and buildings adding fitness centers to the workplace to provide you the opportunity to be healthier and happier.
If your workplace has not yet added a fitness center, you still have the opportunity to add some movement to your day by something as simple as a walk. Nothing too intense, but walk around or through the entire building during a 10-minute walk and return with 20 minutes for lunch or relaxation.
The great part is that you’re able to scale and modify a midday workout to fit your needs and desires.
Trust me, before you even say it, I know what you’re thinking “THAT’S EXPENSIVE!”
I’ve already looked at them.
But I have a few other recommendations, so here they are:
- Identify the work that does not require sitting at a desk or behind a computer (reading files, phone calls, or organizing files).
- Set your keyboard or laptop on files, boxes, or stands to reach a standing position.
- Buy a desk add-on to take on and off during the day.
What happens when you’re just feeling stiff at your desk?
Or what if you work one of those jobs, like Anne Hathaway in Devil Wears Prada that you HAVE to man the desk at all times?
There are plenty of exercises you can do from the comfort of your own desk!
- Seated Supermans (Just did a couple myself!)
- Seated Lateral Raise
- Seated Row
- Seated Front Raise
- Seated Side Crunch
- Seated Leg Extension
- Seated Knee Raise
- Seated Calf Pumps
- Here are some you can do standing at your desk:
- Standing Hip Abductors
- Standing Quarter Squats
- Good Mornings
- Standing Leg Curl
- Standing March
- Standing Glute Kickback
Do a few of these every hour and you’ll add so much movement to your day, it’s practically a workout!
So morning just isn’t your time, you might benefit from an evening walk!
Similar to the morning walk, take a walk around the block, to the end of the street, or through the neighborhood to get the juices flowing.
Bring the whole family, just a partner or spouse, a kid, or a dog (my favorite) and use it as a time for connection as well as a time for moving your body.
I know SO many people who turn on the TV as soon as they can when they get home.
They’re down on the couch, and not getting back up until bedtime.
TV is viewed as such a negative thing for our activity level, but I’d challenge you to look it from a different light – it offers SO MANY opportunities.
Do what I like to call ‘Commercial Core,’ wherein each time a commercial rolls around, you pick a core exercise to do until your show returns.
Are Netflix and Hulu more your style?
Not a problem!
Each time the scene changes or there WAS a commercial break, do 15 repetitions of a core of your choosing and return to watching your show.
If you watch TV from the moment you get home to the moment you go to bed, you could Commercial Core yourself right into a lean and strong core!
Nighttime Foam Roll
You know what they say? Best for last!
That’s because this is one of my favorites.
My day can really beat me up.
I’m on my feet pretty much all day, and I FEEL that.
A nighttime foam roll and stretch session really helps to pump out some of the toxin build up from my day, so that I feel refreshed the next morning.
This is a great strategy to incorporate into your nighttime routine, for it begins the relaxation process and helps prepare you for bedtime.
Here are some ideal areas of focus:
- Chest (May need a ball for this one)
Go to bed feeling fresh, so that you’re able to wake up feeling fresh!
All 12 of these strategies can add significant movement to your day, which will boost NEAT and help you achieve your fat loss goals.
I understand being too busy to actually get to the gym, but it’s hard to argue being too busy for all 12 of these strategies.
Start looking at your day filled with opportunities for movement, and I guarantee you will begin to feel less busy, moving more, and seeing better results!