How to embed exercise into one's lifestyle?
April 25, 2017 8:21 AM   Subscribe

I try to latch exercise into my day so that it seamlessly fits in. I'm looking for more ways to do this. Examples include: working close enough to home so walking is easier.

Other examples include:

- Watching favorite tv shows while using a stairmaster or exercise bike.
- Spending lunchhour fast walking through the mall.
- joining a gym that's on your way home from work. (I loved this since showering at the gym meant saving lots of time cleaning my own bathroom).

I'm not interested in short bouts of activity like taking the stairs instead of the elevator but rather finding ways to add a good 30 plus minutes of activity.
posted by Coffeetyme to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know your life, man, but I will tell you what worked for me -- when I was powerlifting three times a week on top of work, kids, etc, it was because my gym was in the same building as my daughter's daycare, so I had to go there anyway. If I booked it out of work, I got 30-45 minutes three times a week before I had to get her at 6. This only worked because of geography, though. This year she is picked up at 2, not by me, and it's totally fallen apart.

My new plan, that I just hatched while writing this, is to park on the side of my office complex where the work gym is, so I have to walk by it twice a day and I might as well pop in and work out!
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:28 AM on April 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

For me: living in a neighbourhood that's a flat 30min bike ride from work.

Sometimes it's possible to bike or walk part of the way to work and take public transportation for the rest of the journey, or bike one way and getting a ride home for the return trip (my dad used to do the latter sometimes, since he lived too far and didn't like biking enough to go both ways).
posted by quaking fajita at 8:31 AM on April 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another thing to do while watching tv/movies is to do any of the dozens of exercises with resistance bands. Some work fine seated, others require standing. You can buy various bands with straps and handles but I find it more flexible and far cheaper to buy a bunch of surgical tubing online, e.g. something like this at Amazon.

If you happen to have a yard, you can get plenty of exercise there, whilst also growing food or flowers etc. Even if you aren't in to that, 20 minutes on a push mower works all kinds of muscles. I'm happy to give more suggestions for yard work/exercise/natural gardening if you're interested.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:31 AM on April 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Getting great shopping bags if you can walk to and from the grocery can add some walking with the weight of the groceries too.
posted by advicepig at 8:45 AM on April 25, 2017

For the last fifteen years or so (spanning thee cities), we've lived within a couple miles of grocery stores. At least weekly, sometimes more often, we make a point of walking to and from the grocery. It gets us a fair amount of routine walking, plus it compels us to buy only what we can manage to carry in a single trip. For the last three years, we've been members of a community supported agriculture group. They have a pickup location in our neighborhood, but it's on the other side of it (and over a steep hill) from us. Since each CSA delivery fits squarely into a large backpack, that trip, too, has become a ritual walk over the hill and back. I've been doing these things for so long that it feels a little weird when I'm out of town with a rental car and have to drive to get groceries.

I'd imagine you could do the same for just about any service you routinely need that's near enough to your home, office, etc. You'll have to budget time for it, there's no way around that, but things like this quickly feel very routine.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:48 AM on April 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Might be obvious, and depends on locale and infrastucture, but biking as transportation. Some people object because they think it's too intense, that they will get sweaty, and they think they need special clothes. But if you can walk, you can bike: Just pace yourself so your exertion level is the same as if you were walking. As a rough rule of thumb, you will bike about 3-4 times as fast as you would walk with a similar level of effort.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:51 AM on April 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

Came in to say Take the stairs. If you want a real workout, find an 8 - 10 story building and take their stairs a couple times. I used to live near a university campus, would go to the 5 story building, and go up 1 staircase, down the one at the end of the building. Lind of like doing laps.

Know anybody who has a wood stove? Stacking wood is excellent. Also, get a couple of hand weights to carry while walking, and to lift while watching tv, etc. Carrying a backpack with weight, too.

A friend uses springloaded hand exercisers while watching tv.
posted by theora55 at 9:03 AM on April 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I do twenty minutes of yoga every morning while my steel cut oatmeal cooks. I don't even think about it anymore - it's just what I do. So if you have something you cook regularly, you could use that time to exercise. Do squats while you wait for your tea water to boil, etc.
posted by FencingGal at 9:10 AM on April 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

This is not practical or desirable for everyone, but it's certainly worked wonders for us: get a dog. It's especially motivating if she will destroy things when she doesn't get enough exercise. :)
posted by natabat at 9:11 AM on April 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Hang a pullup bar in a doorway you walk through often, and then do pullups every time you walk through.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:20 AM on April 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I live really close to my gym and still rarely go. It's getting in the car to go that makes it so difficult. I have brought shoes with me to work, and each morning when I get there, I change into my shoes and do three laps of power walking. I can't believe how much it helps me focus for the rest of the work day. I find that I get to work and feel totally frazzled about everything I have to do, and after I do a brisk walk, I have calmed WAY down.
posted by tangomija at 9:34 AM on April 25, 2017

When I can, I bike to my martial arts classes which adds a totally awesome extra dimension to them.

Plan a work commute that adds a 30 min walk in at either end by parking halfway or getting off transit halfway or whatever.

Turn one of your social activities into a workout activity by creating a fitness buddy/group.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:52 AM on April 25, 2017

I recently started making a real effort to drink more water during the day, which has inevitably also led to more restroom breaks. Lately, whenever I head out of my office to go to the restroom, I'll also walk up the stairs to the top floor (I'm on floor 2 of 5) and back down again before heading back to my desk. It helps get the blood pumping, and it probably ends up being right around 20-30 minutes by the end of the day.

The only way I was able to maintain a regular exercise habit was to do it on my way home from work. Once I was home, there was NO WAY I was leaving again, especially for something as chore-like as a workout, but when I was able to slightly alter my route so I passed by a YMCA on the way home, it was easier to stop there, work out, hop back in my car, and finish the drive.

Beyond that, active hobbies (hiking, rock climbing, martial arts, dance classes, mushroom hunting, geocaching, etc.) seems like the way to go as far as exercising without expressly exercising. Sometimes this is the only way I can convince myself to move, haha.
posted by helloimjennsco at 10:17 AM on April 25, 2017

not terribly ambitious, but if you consider stretching to be a kind of exercise: I keep the area in front of the TV clear of furniture, so it's just an open expanse of carpet, so I can stretch when I'm watching TV.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:30 AM on April 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Run part or all of the way home from work (or during your lunch hour). Sounds like you're currently a fast walker, so you'd be ideally placed to do a Couch to 5K programme. Increasing the intensity gradually from walking will get you more bang for your buck (i.e. more fitness from your 30 minutes).
posted by penguin pie at 10:56 AM on April 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm another one who does yoga first thing in the morning. It feels seamless to me now, because I wake up, get it done, and don't really have to think about it for the rest of the day. There are plenty of free yoga videos on youtube, and you can choose the length and difficulty/intensity level. It really makes me feel good before I start my day, too.

Often in the afternoons after work, I will walk part of the way home- for about 30 minutes. This feels somewhat seamless too since I am walking as a way of transportation. It's also a good way to wind down from the day. Luckily I live in a very walkable city; ymmv on that one.
posted by bearette at 11:13 AM on April 25, 2017

Working out while watching TV is huge. I recommend picking an actual from-home program, like P90X or Insanity or w/e (playing it from a computer in the background) instead of stairmaster or stationary bike though - it requires less equipment (often an optional mat) and you get a full-body workout instead of just pumping your quads for 30 minutes.
I've been doing this for several months and it frees up a lot of time, getting in a complete workout in 30 minutes WHILE I 'veg' my brain watching TV. I no longer have to think about, well I got my cardio from biking to work, I got my back exercise bc I installed a pull-up bar, let's see, still need to hit x, y, and z today... Efficiency of the actual workout makes a big difference.
posted by smokysunday at 11:52 AM on April 25, 2017

If you want to work out in front of the tv, and you don't mind purchasing a large piece of equipment, the answer is a rowing machine.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:31 PM on April 25, 2017

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