21 Easy Ways to Get in More Exercise Every Day

Exercising doesn't have to be a chore. Here are some little ways you can get moving, even in lockdown.

How many nights recently have you laid down in bed only to realize you barely clocked any steps throughout the day? Between working long hours from home and winding down by watching a few hours of your favorite TV show at night, it's all too easy to stay stationary in quarantine. And while that might not seem like a huge deal, research has shown that sitting has been linked to an increased risk of death and many chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The good news is adding more movement into your day can be incredibly simple, and you can start with these easy exercises, straight from the experts.

Make the most of your morning routine.

Older man brushes teeth in mirror, things damaging teeth

If you're not getting in some movement while you're brushing your teeth, you're missing out. "As silly as it sounds, I often use my time in the bathroom every morning to get in some calf raises or simple squats while I brush my teeth and do my hair," says Amy Cardin, a Pilates instructor in Providence, Rhode Island. "It's a simple way to get your blood flowing at the beginning of the day." And if you want to start your day with some motivation, check out 50 Inspirational Morning Quotes to Kick Off Your Day.

And turn TV time into exercise time.

Woman exercising while watching TV

Chances are you've been watching a lot of extra Netflix lately, flying through just about every series there is. Of course, you're not alone. But if you want to up the ante, make that TV time your new exercise time. "Use that time to incorporate some movement into your day. It could be as simple as stretching," Cardin says. "You could use your coffee table to do tricep dips. Get on the floor and get in some planks or push-ups. Even if you only do 10 to 15 minutes of movement, your body will thank you."

Park further away from store entrances.

Woman walking with groceries to car with mask on

The next time you go grocery shopping for the necessities, don't park in the spot closest to the door. Instead, take a spot that's further away and walk to the entrance—not only is it better to have your car far away from others' right now, but you'll get some extra steps in and build up your muscles from walking further with those heavy grocery bags. And for a guide on what to do when you return home from the store, check out Here's What to Do After You Go Outside During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Do some strength training while cooking.

Man exercising in kitchen

There are so many ways you can add more movement into your everyday routine—cooking, included. The next time you're in the kitchen, do some squats while you're waiting for the water to boil, calf raises while you're doing dishes, or some counter push-ups as your food is heating up in the microwave. By the time your meal is ready to eat, you'll have gotten in a mini workout. Nicely done! And for more tips on staying in shape, check out 50 Easy Ways to Stay Fit After 50.

Drink more water.

Woman drinking water at home

What does drinking more water have to do with moving more every day, you ask? It's as simple as this: The more water you drink, the more often you'll have to get up to go to the bathroom. It's a win-win: You fuel your body and stay super hydrated, and you get in more steps throughout the day in the process.

Adopt a dog.

Woman walking a dog

You finally have the ability to stay at home and train a new furry family member these days, and there are always dogs who need a forever home. The truth is, taking the steps to adopt is great for the pup and for you. A 2017 study published in BMC Public Health found that dog owners walked about 23 minutes longer per day than non-dog owners—and they took an extra 2,760 steps a day! And for more benefits of having a pup, check out Here's Why Having a Pet After 50 Makes You a Healthier Person.

Get in a quick pre-work workout.

Man doing an at home exercise with couch

Since it can be harder to stay in control of your day as the hours tick by, it's always a good idea to squeeze in a workout before you sit down at your desk—or kitchen table—to answer work emails. "Set an alarm in the morning to get up and start moving. By starting the day with movement, you're committing to physical activity to start your day off right," says Natasha LaBeaud Anzures, PhD, a professional athlete and co-founder of 2nd Recess. You might press snooze one too many times at first, but after a while, your body will get used to your earlier wakeup time.

Set an alarm to make sure you're moving every hour.

Phone alarm telling you to get up and move

When you're working throughout the day, it's easy to stay sedentary for hours. To make sure you're getting up more often, Jen Tallman, a fitness instructor in New York City, recommends setting an alarm or Google calendar reminder to stand up and move your body every hour. "Do some squats, walk-outs, push-ups, downward dogs—anything," she says. "Set a goal to do 10 reps of a movement each hour, plus a lap around your apartment or home."

Take a walk around the block.

Man walking through park

Especially in lockdown, everyone has time for a quick walk around the block, no matter how busy their day is. "Aim for at least 10 minutes," says Tallman. "You'll wake up your senses, your body, and your mind. Extra credit if you do this technology-free to really clear your head."

Or take up bike riding as a hobby.

Older couple riding bikes

Walking isn't the only way to get in some extra movement during the day. Instead, you can turn bike riding into your new hobby. Whether you ride around your neighborhood or hit the bike trails, Harvard Health says cycling is a great way to get in some cardio and improve your heart health, build muscle, and work up a sweat, all while being easy on the joints. Plus, you can stay socially distant while doing it! And for more activities to try in quarantine, check out 17 Things to Do by Yourself While You're Social Distancing.

Or take dance breaks.

Girl having a dance break at home

Doing squats throughout the day doesn't sound like a lot of fun, but who can resist a good dance break? "If you're working from home, take a few dance breaks throughout the day," Tallman says. "Put on your favorite song for a mood booster and just dance around. It's as easy as that."

Ditch your chair for an exercise ball.

Woman using exercise ball as chair for home office desk

Sitting in a normal chair all day, every day at home is probably wearing on your lower back, so swap that chair for an exercise ball to constantly work your body. "You have to make constant, small adjustments in muscle tension and weight distribution," physiatrist and sports medicine specialist Edward R. Laskowski, MD, told the Mayo Clinic. Here's the catch: Only make that swap a few hours a day—Laskowski says overdoing it can lead to some back discomfort.

Take walking meetings.

Man taking a phone call while walking

One of the benefits of working from home is that you can try and get in some movement during your meetings. If you don't need to be on video chat and you do most of your talking over the phone, why not do so while walking? You won't just get in extra fresh air during the day, but you'll also cut your sitting time down, burn some extra calories, and return to your desk with a lot more energy.

Stand during Zoom calls.

Woman doing a video chat while standing

While it'd be weird doing this in person at work, you can get away with standing up for your meetings when you're working virtually. "Stand during all your Zoom calls and meetings," suggests trainer and nutrition coach Serena Scanzillo, founder of SerenaFit Training Studio. "While you're on a call, you can sneak in a few calf raises, ankle rolls, and quad stretches. Nobody will even know."

Or get a standing desk.

Woman using a stand desk at home

If you've been thinking about getting a standing desk, don't wait another second. Michael Roizen, MD, an anesthesiologist and internist in Cleveland, Ohio, told the Cleveland Clinic that research has found that a 143-pound person could burn an extra 54 calories a day from six hours of standing. It might not seem like a lot, but it adds up over time. It's the equivalent to about eight minutes of walking for women and 14 minutes for men. Not too bad!

Or upgrade to a desk bike.

senior man using desk bike in house while talking to wife in kitchen

Yes, desk bikes totally exist (courtesy of Flexispot)—and they're actually pretty fun. The bikes make it easy to pedal away while you're typing on your laptop or taking calls. There are also treadmill desks, although those make it a little trickier to walk and work at the same time. When it comes to upping your daily steps, though, you'd be golden.

Get in a sweat session during lunch.

Girl doing at home exercise with weights

When you're working from home, taking an actual lunch break is a must. To put that hour to good use, throw a workout in there, too. "Right now, I think the best time block to work out is the lunch hour," Scanzillo says. "We're sitting a lot. Get up and get outside if you can. Pair some cardio with free weights and show your body some serious love."

Do some yard work.

Man cleaning yard and deck

With summer right around the corner, now is the perfect time to start doing yard work. Not only is all that extra movement great for you, but your future self will thank you for starting early. "On the next nice day, head outside," Scanzillo says. "You can organize your patio, rework your garden, sweep the steps, walkway, and driveway, stain your fence, blow leaves, wash your windows—anything, really."

Or do some spring cleaning.

Man doing spring cleaning at home scrubbing floor

While cleaning up your yard is a great way to up your daily movement, you can get the same benefits indoors by starting your spring cleaning. Deep cleaning your home and organizing your closet and cupboards is a surprisingly effective way to work up a sweat. All that scrubbing and lifting can help build muscle, too.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Man taking the stairs

Taking the stairs instead of the elevator—especially when it's under five flights—is one of the best ways to up your daily activity. "It's all too easy—especially in big cities—to head straight to the elevator or escalator. The stairs may take slightly longer, but getting your body moving and your heart rate elevated is a great mood and energy booster," Cardin says. Plus, you're less likely to get close to strangers when taking the stairs rather than riding in an elevator.

Tallman also recommends adding some glute kicks on each leg every few steps to ward off lazy glutes from sitting all day.

Have a nightly stretch session.

Woman stretching at night in bed at home

Now, you know that starting your day with movement is beneficial, but the same goes for ending your day. Wind down at night by doing a full-body stretch session, making sure you hit every area of your body. Not only does it help you relax before bedtime, but it also allows you to gently soothe any built-up tension from sitting for long periods of time.

Tehrene Firman
Tehrene Firman is a freelance health and wellness writer. Read more
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