Most days, I will find time to fit a workout into my day – whether it’s a morning swim before work, or a HIIT class straight after, fitness is always in my calendar somewhere. But what if you’re just too damn busy to squeeze in that swim, or a Pilates class? What if you’re in the middle of deadline week (or month); what if you spend those mornings and evenings with your children? Perhaps you’re trying to set up a little business on the side? Well, my advice is actually to try and make some time for fitness – even if you’re working out as a family, or you head out for a speed walk on your lunch break. But fear not, there are so many ways to exercise, and some of them don’t even feel like you’re doing a workout.
1. Cleaning (doing chores)
This one’s a definite workout – I don’t care what anyone says. Between the vacuuming (‘hoovering’ for my fellow Brits), scrubbing at the stove, don’t even get me started on cleaning the oven, washing windows, attempting to dust all the books on the book shelf, and all the general tidying up, you’re actually expending a lot of calories.
This is a favourite of mine, and it certainly doesn’t feel like you’re forcing the exercise into your day when it comes to dancing, and you can dance anywhere! Put some music on at home, dance with your kids, give your partner a twirl on the kitchen tiles – maybe take them to a few salsa classes, and have fun while you work out. If any of you wear fitness trackers, just see how many steps you do in one night of dancing; it’s a great way to fit in some cardio exercise – it’s good for the heart, great for the soul, and it’s guaranteed to make you smile.
This doesn’t have to be a competitive swim, just keep it casual – head to the beach with friends, maybe you pitch up at a lake for the weekend. Swimming is such an awesome way to work out; it’s an active form of meditation in many ways, as you silence the world beneath the surface. It’s a very peaceful form of exercise, even if it’s performance swimming that you do. It’s also a great full-body workout, waking up muscle groups you haven’t been using around the office, getting oxygenated blood pumping around the body, for a seriously revitalising workout. And if you swim in the sea, it’s totally free!
4. Taking the stairs
This one’s so easy to do, and yet so many of us opt for the lift (‘elevator’), which I am often guilty of too. In my old office block I used to take regular breaks from my desk (and screen) to just walk up and down the stairs a few times. The uphill climb provides a short burst of cardio, getting your heart beating, raising your heart rate a little, and working out those legs – and that derrière you’ve been sitting on all day long.
5. Supermarket shopping
Now I am not saying that drifting lazily through the aisles will get you fit as a fiddle, but if you walk around supermarkets like I do – on a bit of a mission to get in and get out, with as little damage as possible, then it can certainly be classed as a bit of exercise after a long day in the office. As you walk, think consciously about your body – engage your abs, tighten your glutes – actively use your muscles, even when reaching for that bag of quinoa, put some thought into it. Then there’s the bag carrying part. Don’t walk for miles carrying bags that are clearly too heavy, but maybe park your car a little further away, or leave the car behind and go to your local shop instead – walk home with your groceries in tow. Do make sure that you lift and carry bags safely though and think about your posture at all times.
This is one I think many of us take for granted. Walking is such great exercise, particularly when it’s more of a brisk walk, or one that includes some inclines – or walking on the beach, through the sand. A lot of us hop into the car for every little trip, and it can be a little excessive. Our bodies weren’t designed to be doing all the sitting that most of us do; we are meant to be doing a lot more standing, walking, moving – and that’s where a lot of our issues stem from. If walking isn’t something you do much of during the week, then get out at the weekend for some fresh air and some leg stretching.
This may or may not be relevant, depending on where you live – I for one do not have a garden in my 14th floor Dubai studio apartment, but gardening can certainly get you the exercise you need. Mowing the lawn, digging up those relentless weeds, planting fresh little bulbs, painting the shed, and so on and so forth. I did a lot of gardening when I lived in my parents’ place in the UK, and I definitely felt like it was exercising my muscles. I have to admit, it’s not something I enjoy doing, so maybe I saw it as more taxing than is actually was, but it’s a great way to unwind after a long week, get some vitamin D into your system and create something rewarding.
8. Window shopping
So this one doesn’t work so well for me, because I end up exercising my credit card more than my legs, but generally speaking, window shopping and just walking around the mall for a few hours is a great way to get moving and to stay engaged while you do it. The weather here in Dubai is absolutely scorching over the summer, and it’s hard to find things to do sometimes. If you’re not a gym person, then you can clock in your steps by walking round the shops, do some people watching, walk around with a friend for a catch up, or just switch off and listen to your favourite music. Keep it simple and keep it moving.
So it’s not all about gym memberships, unless you want buns of steel and rock hard abs, in which case, you will need to incorporate some squats and crunches into your cleaning routine at the very least.