It’s much easier to hit your exercise goals when you keep up with activity throughout the day instead of shooting for 10,000 steps in just one hour of physical activity. Small movements—they don’t even have to be sweat-inducing—bring your heart rate up above its usual resting pace and increase blood flow. Here are a few unique ways to get started:
1. Set an exercise goal for commercial breaks
It’s okay to sit in front of the television and watch your favorite shows, but why not set a goal for yourself to incorporate a few exercises? If you’re watching a show with commercials, it could be as simple as saying to yourself: “I’m going to do 10 jumping jacks at every commercial break.” If you’re watching Netflix, maybe you set a higher goal: Can you tackle 25 jumping jacks and 25 sit-ups between episodes? Even if you need to set a lower goal to kick things off, keep in mind that this activity is already more than what you’d normally be doing on the couch.
2. Make your own obstacle course
Obstacle courses aren’t just for kids—although we can vouch that they’re a hit with families! Become an American Ninja Warrior in your own home with activities you like to do. Putting the course together is exercise in and of itself, and then actually doing the fun you’ve created takes your “workout” to the next level. Can you bob and weave around pillows? Can you start a relay race with canned goods? Can you crab-walk down the hallway? Get the whole household involved with your course and then time it to add a little competition. You’ll be impressed with how quickly your heart rate rises.
3. Play an active game
The opportunities are endless when it comes to finding a game that will get you moving. If you want to be outside, classic games like freeze or flashlight tag, kick the can, four-square, or hopscotch are fun and easy to play. You can even just pass around a soccer ball to get your feet moving. If you’d rather be indoors, try a movement-based game like Twister or create your own Musical Chairs. Pro tip: Pillow fights also count as physical activity.
4. Do a speed clean of the house
Chores are a win-win way to be active, because you’re moving your arms and legs, and the end result is a clean house. Sounds good, right? If you’re delegating chores to kiddos (or, you have a competitive spouse), a fun way to ramp up that exercise is with a speed-clean competition. Set a goal at the beginning, designate an impartial judge (because a half-cleaned room doesn’t count!), and see who can get the job done the fastest. After scrubbing the tub or racing to vacuum the living room, you may find yourself sweating.
5. Play with your pet
If you have a dog, you have at least 10 minutes of exercise waiting for you (and, pure joy from your pet). Pick up a toy and run—see what happens! You’ll find yourself in an intense game of tag that will go on for as long as you’ll let it. If you have an older pet who isn’t up for running around, you can still bring and roll them toys to keep moving around.
6. Get outside for yard work
If you have a push lawn mower, you’re probably familiar with the great cardio that comes along with it. Mowing the lawn is an excellent way to get those steps in. If you’ve been putting off raking, now’s the time to make some piles! Maybe you’ve been eyeing weeds in your garden or have been anxious to prune your bushes. Tackle those little projects that you’ve been wanting to get done and reap the physical benefits. Depending on your intensity, each of these tasks will get your heart rate up. You may even feel sore the next day from your “strength training.”
Finding small ways to bring exercise into your routine is the first step to living a healthy, active lifestyle, even when you can’t make it to the gym. And, when you’re ready to do that hour-long workout, we’ve got just the thing for you.