Easy ways to exercise and stay active when busy
June 22, 2023
You might not want to hear it. In fact, as you lie on the couch after a mentally exhausting day of juggling the responsibilities of work, family and more, you might resist it with every fiber of your being. But it won’t change the fact that regular exercise is important for your overall health and wellbeing.
Why is exercise important? It’s simple science. There’s strong evidence that regular physical activity improves cardiovascular health, muscular fitness, bone health and body composition (more muscle, less fat). There are also some indications that regular exercise can boost mood, support brain health and help you feel more energized.
Getting regular exercise also helps ensure you’re easily able to perform daily physical tasks like lifting groceries or climbing stairs. You’ll also be more likely to sneeze and laugh without throwing your back out or get up from playing with your kids on the floor without groaning.
And it doesn’t have to be hours of training each day for you to see some of those benefits. A few simple exercises can go a long way, especially if doing them becomes a habit.
Experts recommend that adults get at least 150-300 minutes of moderate exercise or 75-150 minutes of aerobic physical activity each week, or some combination of those numbers, ideally spread throughout the week. They also recommend strength training that involves all major muscle groups at least two days a week.
That is the minimum recommendation. Going above and beyond those thresholds for all activities will yield even more benefits.
“I’m too busy,” you say. “There’s no way I can fit it in.” If you succumb to your excuses, you are only hurting yourself. Regular exercise is part of self-care.
“If you don’t take care of yourself, you might not be able to accomplish everything you need to do, let alone what you want to do,” said Marissa Arterburn, a nutrition scientist for XS™ products as well as an avid bodybuilder and weight lifter. “But with the right mindset, you can make sure being physically healthy is part of your daily routine.
Here are a few tips to help you get started without spending a lot of money on gym memberships, fancy treadmills or exercise bikes.
You’ve heard it said: Every journey begins with the first step. That includes your exercise journey. Walking is a simple exercise, making it a great way to add physical activity into your everyday routine. You set your own pace and you don’t have to change clothes, go to a gym, buy specialized equipment or have a spotter. Your goal is to simply get moving.
“From parking farther away from the door when you go to the store to taking the stairs instead of the elevator, you’ll find it’s quite easy to get your steps in,” Arterburn said.
Everyone needs a break during the work day. Those breaks are opportunities to log some steps. Working in an office? Take a quick stroll down the hallways or (weather permitting) step outside and do a lap around the building.
Is your lunch date or a meeting with a client within walking distance? Give yourself extra time and walk there. Even if your meeting is on site you can take the long way to increase your walking time. You can even consider “walking meetings,” if it’s doable for the group and topic. Simply walk and talk instead of gathering in a conference room. (You might see some extra creative benefits, too!)
If you want to feel really good about increasing the amount of walking you do each day, start tracking your steps with a smartwatch, fitness tracker or pedometer before you make any changes to your routine.
Once you start adding more walking to your days, watching those step numbers climb higher and higher is a great motivator. You’ll soon find yourself walking in place while waiting in line or going down an extra aisle at the grocery store to get your step count up.
“It is nearly impossible for me to end my day without achieving my steps goal because I feel like my day is incomplete,” Arterburn said. “It is motivating to see what I am capable of achieving on a daily basis, but I strive to push myself a little further every week. My friends and I find ways to mix up our goals with some friendly competition, too, which keeps us accountable.”
Many people strive for 10,000 steps a day, which is the equivalent of about 5 miles, but everyone should set a goal that works for them.
The important thing is that you are moving and looking for ways to add more movement, like turning your break into a mini workout or stretching session.
“Online searches will provide you with an array of workouts under 15 minutes targeting arms, abs or legs. These are typically a series of simple exercises you can do anywhere with makeshift weights or no equipment at all,” Arterburn said.
There is even research that shows one-minute bursts of activity done throughout the day can yield big benefits. That includes running to catch the bus, playing a quick game of tag with your kids or having a an impromptu dance party when your favorite song comes on.
You can really increase your movement and decrease your sedentary time if you upgrade to a standing desk or a treadmill desk.
In addition to getting you on your feet, standing desks and treadmill desks help improve your posture by eliminating the various forms of slouching you do in your chair. And they inherently burn more calories because your body is working.
The best scenario is to have the option to sit or stand or walk, as standing all day is not good for you either. Many companies have adjustable desks as the default selection for employees. There are plenty of options for the home office, too.
(WARNING: If you opt for a treadmill desk, take time to figure out the best speed for safe movement and productivity. No one wants to fall off their desk in the middle of an online meeting!)
Cleaning can also be a good workout. It’s not like going to the gym or a five mile run, but cleaning can provide exercise. Some researchers say scrubbing your bathroom for 35 minutes can burn as many calories as 35 minutes on the treadmill.
Tackle a few cleaning jobs for 20-30 minutes and count it toward your daily workout. Other household tasks like gardening or walking the dog can count, too. Plus, you’re checking things off your lengthy to-do list!
Does all this walking and movement seem like too much when your regular day already leaves you drained of energy? Here’s a fun fact: The more you move, the more energy you’ll have. There may be an adjustment, but you’ll be surprised at how you feel when you are walking more or doing other simple exercises.
There are other things you can do to help with energy, too, like eating right, staying hydrated and getting enough sleep.
Most foods will give you energy, but a healthy diet rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber and healthy fats is the best choice. That includes nuts, seeds, fresh fruit, vegetables and low-sugar dairy.
Foods high in vitamin B will help your body unlock energy from the foods you eat. Iron-rich foods are also good because iron helps transport oxygen through the body.
If you don’t get enough water, your body will not be able to handle extra exercise, let alone its normal tasks of temperature regulation, lubricating your joints and supporting all the other functions of your body.
For the average person, that means between 72 and 96 oz. or 2-3 liters to replace the fluids normally lost throughout the day. And if you’re exercising, you need even more. That doesn’t mean you must drink only water while excluding other beverages. But not all liquids will have the same hydrating effects. And some might have some unwanted side effects.
Make sure to keep a water bottle handy throughout the day and refill it often. Cut down on caffeine, as it can lead to dehydration. And if soda is your go-to refresher during the day, try to switch to water. If that sounds too “meh,” consider some hydrating add-ins to give it some flavor!
Poor sleep can affect your energy levels because a good night’s sleep gives your muscles and body time to recover from the day’s exertions. How much sleep do you need? Adults ages 18 to 64 need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.
You may need more or less depending on your activity level and what works for you. Take some time to find out how much sleep your body needs for optimal energy levels and shoot for that each day.
Whether you begin walking for exercise every day, start doing a routine of simple exercises or are maxing out on the benefits of a standing desk, you may find yourself ready to level up to a more structured workout. Where do you begin?
As with most things connected to your health, it’s always good to consult your doctor for advice—especially if you have any medical conditions that can affect your expectations for exercise.
Next, develop a plan with clear goals. Those goals could simply be to add some structured physical activity 2-3 times a week or they could go as high as being able to complete a marathon within the next year.
Make sure to start slowly. That includes setting manageable goals, but also before you dive into your exercises each day.
“Warming up and stretching are key to preventing injuries and being able to enjoy your newfound exercise routine,” Arterburn said.
Looking for some more expert advice? Amway Independent Business Owners and registered customers can take advantage of the XS Fitness program to help launch an exercise routine. It includes advice for setting goals, detailed workouts to fit your schedule and preferences, product recommendations, meal planning and the support of an XS Fit Coach others in the XS community.
By selecting cancel, the new IBO must complete the rest of the registration process, including payment. You will not be able to return to the payment option.
The new IBO will receive an email with a link to complete the process