When it comes to working out, it seems hard enough to fit in time to exercise, let alone get in some adequate cardio. But luckily there are clever ways you can fit in cardio throughout the day without having to walk up at the crack of dawn to go on a run. Certain everyday activities and even other types of workouts can include aerobic exercise if you make a little bit of an effort, and they don't need to be any fancy classes or designated time at the gym.
"All adults should engage in cardio exercise at least three days a week (if vigorous) or at least five days a week (if moderate), according to the American College of Sports Medicine," says Rachel Straub, MS, CSCS over email. "The more you do, the greater the benefit — from reduced risk of all-cause mortality...mood enhancement, and more. Therefore, aiming to incorporate some form of cardio daily is highly advised, regardless of whether you go to a gym or not."
If you're looking for clever ways to fit in your heart-pumping workout if you don't have time to make it into the gym, try these 11 ways to incorporate cardio throughout your day.
1. Take The Stairs
"Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator all the time," says Lisa Reed, MS, CSCS, USAW over email. Taking the stairs is always people's go-to suggestion when it comes to fitting in exercise — but for good reason. Taking the stairs burns more energy than normal walking, and it can increase the function of your immune system, lower your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and heart disease, according to LIVESTRONG.
2. Walk To Where You're Going
Even if you live too far from where you work, park in a more distant spot, or take a walk to lunch nearby. Walking for even just 20 minutes a day can improve your energy levels, boost your mood, decrease your risk of heart disease, and increase your lifespan, according to multiple studies.
3. Take A Stroll On Phone Calls
"If you are on the phone (for business or pleasure), why not walk and talk at the same time?" says Straub. The average American spends almost five hours a day on their smartphones, according to a report from Informate Mobile Intelligence. Carve out some of that time to take a walk around the block or even stroll in your office or living room.
4. Do Some Squats
You may not associate doing your squats with cardio, but the exercise can get your heart rate up, and the best part is, they can be done anywhere. Do them in the shower, while you're cooking, or during your lunch break. "Perform these freestanding, or hold onto a counter if that’s too difficult," says Straub. "Perform at least eight repetitions, although more is better for cardio purposes."
5. Clean The House
Kill two birds with one stone by completing your chores while getting in some cardio. Chores such as vacuuming and sweeping can be a good aerobic workout, and you can amp up your exercise by picking up the pace.
6. Cook Your Meals
Instead of sitting on your couch ordering take out, get up, do some chopping, stirring, and mixing to get your body moving. If you need a boost, Reader's Digest suggested these five ways to turn your cooking into a workout.
7. Combine It With Strength Training
No need to forego your usual workout in place of a run. If your regular routine involve more strength training, switch it up by adding in some cardio as well. "When you implement a strength exercise immediately followed by a cardio movement, you maximize your results," says Straub. Alternate between something that gets your heart beating with moves that have your muscles burning.
8. Go Shopping
Whether you're getting groceries or looking for a new outfit, schedule your shopping on days where you're missing cardio, and you won't have to feel as bad. Because shopping involves so much walking, it's good for your heart, and carrying those bags is an added bonus as well.
9. Put On Some Music
Throw on your favorite tune and get moving. Freestyle dancing is an aerobic exercise that benefits your heart, your muscles, and even your brain, according to LIVESTRONG. Try getting moving first thing in the morning to start your day off on a positive note.
10. Workout While Watching TV
If you have a favorite show on every night, use that opportunity to fit in a mini workout. Keep a jumprope by the couch or do some jumping jacks or a YouTube video during commercials. The exercise will add up.
11. Make A Date With A Friend
Turn your social plans into something active. "Ride bikes or walk around your neighborhood together," says Reed. "Working out with a partner is a great way to spend time together while staying healthy. Plus, you all can keep each other accountable and help each other stay motivated."
No matter how much time you have, it's always important to get moving at some point during the day to keep your physical and mental health at their best.
Want more women's health coverage? Check out Bustle's new podcast, Honestly Though, which tackles all the questions you're afraid to ask.
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