Busy schedule thwarting your fitness goals? Join the club. Between Christmas shopping, work, family and parties, exercise plans don’t always go according to, well, plan. During this most manic of seasons, cut yourself some slack if you can’t squeeze in your regular workout — just be sure to increase your everyday activity to make up for it. “The number one excuse I hear from people for not exercising is lack of time,” says Kelly James-Enger, personal trainer and co-author of Small Changes, Big Results: A 12-Week Action Plan to a Better Life. “But most people can do little things even if they don’t have time to hit the gym.”
Those small moves add up surprisingly quickly: If you get up from your desk for five minutes every hour, walk around the block for 10 minutes at lunch and run a 15-minute errand after work on foot, you’ve managed to replace an hour-long walk. Need some more ideas? Our cheat sheet will give you six inspired ways to fit some fitness in today — while still getting everything else done, too.
1. Tweak your inter-office communication
Next time you have a quick message for a co-worker, put down the phone and step away from your email. Getting up and walking to a colleague’s desk not only is more sociable, it also breaks up your day and interrupts that backache-causing desk slouch.
Try it today: Set a reminder to pop up every hour, then deliver your next message in person. Get back to work. Repeat.
2. Take your coffee to go
Meeting a friend for coffee? Bring your travel mug and catch up while strolling through a park or going window shopping together. You’ll still get quality one-on-one time with your BFF, and you’ll add some adventure into the mix. Bonus: Studies show exercising with a friend can give you the support you need to get and stay active.
Try it today: Surprise a friend with an early Christmas present: a travel mug with a coffee-shop gift card inside.
3. Boost your coffee break
It would be nice to take the stairs instead of the elevator all the time, but showing up at every meeting winded and sweaty may not be the best idea. Here’s a good compromise: Take the stairs when you’re going to get coffee. You’ll make it a regular habit, without spending your whole day huffing. And the best part is, the coffee’s a built-in reward.
Try it today: Take the stairs for your mid-morning and afternoon coffee breaks. On the 25th floor? Try taking the elevator down to the sixth level and walking the rest of the way.
4. Park further away
Quit fighting over the closest spots, and try intentionally parking a block away from where you need to be instead. This is especially handy for avoiding holiday parking lot madness, and for picking the kids up after school: You can avoid the minivan crush when the bell rings, you get an extra few minutes to catch up on what happened that day and you’ll work some activity into your children’s routines, too.
Try it today: On your daily commute, park a bit farther from work (or get off public transit a stop early). Just make sure to pack warm mitts and a hat: The aim is fitness, not freezing.
5. Map your to-do list
Need to run to the supermarket, post office and drugstore? Plan your errands in one area, park your car and walk from shop to shop. You’ll get it all done and spend less time in traffic while you’re at it.
Try it today: If you have a smart phone, apps like Nike+ GPS let you map your route and track distance, number of steps and calories burned, right from your phone.
6. Walk after you eat!
Take a few extra minutes for a quick tour around the block after lunch. You’ll get those extra steps in, and it will relax you so you can start your afternoon more focused and calm. And make a habit of going for a walk with your family every night after dinner. It’s a nice way to spend some time together while helping everyone get a little more active.
Try it today: ’Tis the season to stroll and look at Christmas lights (snowball fight optional). So bundle up and get out there!