No Time to Move? Here are 13 Ways to Sneak Fitness Into Your Day


It’s no secret a daily dose of exercise can boost your energy and overall wellbeing, and researchers have recently found that sitting for several hours each day has been linked to heart disease. Even standing has been shown to not just help with weight loss, but it can also help lower levels of cholesterol—reducing the risk of diabetes, along with other health issues related to your ticker.

Still, your busy lifestyle might keep you glued to your seat. The solution? Step away from that chair—at least for a few minutes every hour. If you’re a Fitbit user, you can set a reminder alarm using the Fitbit app, or follow a step reminder in your tracker. Fitbit automatically sets hourly activity goals and reminders at 250 steps—roughly equivalent to a few minutes of movement, which has been shown to help offset the negative effects of sitting. That could be a walk to the restroom, water cooler, and even better, a quick stroll around the block. 

If you absolutely can’t break away for 250 steps, here are some ways to build more movement into every hour of the day.

Seated Scenario: You’re Stuck at Your Desk

If you can get an adjustable desk that allows you to stand, do it. You’ll burn about 40% more calories than if you work seated for the full day.

If you don’t have a standing desk, perform 5 to 10 bodyweight squats in front of your desk every hour. Push your chair away and squat down until your glutes just touch your seat, and then return to start.

If you must stay seated, try one or all of these exercises each time you receive a step reminder:

  • Point your toes and squeeze your calves to lift your heels 10 times.
  • Shrug your shoulders up and down 10 times.
  • Lightly stretch your neck from side to side.
  • Roll your ankles and wrists.
  • Grab the back of your chair with both hands, and lean slightly forward, to stretch your shoulders and chest.

Even if you do these moves every other hour, you will still add movement to your day.

Seated Scenario: You Get Sucked Into the TV

Commercials eat about 15 minutes of every hour-long show, and many run for 30 seconds at a time. If you get up and move for all of those 15 minutes? Excellent. But even just choosing four short commercials will help you get your hourly movement minutes in, to counteract your couch time.

Try one or all of these exercises, and swap them for each commercial:

  • Hold a plank (start position for a push-up) for 30 seconds, each time there’s a commercial break. If you are newer to exercise, or are recovering from injury, rest your knees on the floor, to help support your weight.
  • Stand in front of the couch, and perform 10 to 20 bodyweight lunges, alternating legs.
  • Have a back issue? Try Seated Dead Bugs: Sit on the couch with your feet flat on the floor, and lift one knee at a time, squeezing your abs to pull your leg up, and to keep your hips still. Alternate legs. More advanced exercisers can sync raising an alternate arm with opposite knee.

Movement Scenario: You’re Inside a Plane, Train, or Automobile

Isometric exercises (when you squeeze a muscle or group of muscles for a period of time, and then release) won’t necessarily burn as many calories as say, a jog, or typical gym session, but you will be able to gently strengthen your body, boost circulation, and lower your blood pressure. If you’re stuck in a seat for several hours, give these nearly invisible moves a shot at least once each hour.

  • Pull your abs in toward your spine and hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then release.
  • Squeeze your glutes for 20 to 30 seconds, then release.
  • Lift one leg at a time, slowly contracting your core with each lift. Repeat 20 times per side.

Your best bet? Pull over for a breather—and some steps.

15 Comments   Join the Conversation

15 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Hi Lara my brother in law from Thailand was over here in Dandenong Australia staying with us for a few weeks and his daughter Nicki had given him a Fitbit HR which he found quite exciting. However, he had to return to Thailand and before he left he gave me his Fitbit HR as a Gift (April 2016). So I have used it every day and I also bought an Samsung Android S5 and installed the Fitbit HR Dashboard. (July 2016). Well I am over 90 and believe it or not I use and refer to it every day. My Doctor and Cardiologist are both very impressed. MY Partner and I both went to Perth WA for 5 days and then a cruise for 12 days through Indonesia and then 5 days in Singapore. I went on as many walks and excursions as I could and one day In Singapore if got up to 12,000 steps. Both Doctors say if I can keep this up I should live to 100. Unfortunately, owing to Volunteer commitments sometimes I only get to almost 5,000 steps in one day.

  • So if I were to do squats everyday and get to 10000 steps will that help with my pot belly, no way will I diet but am not a big eater, will those things help. I also find the fitbit tracking how much water I drink a big help.

  • fitness mental and physical challenge. Dancers know this one. Everything Fred Astere and Ginger Rogers did, Ginger had to do it backward and probably in high heels. Try walking the 50 foot deck behind the house, backward, with or without high heels tiny dancers are often stuck with. Walking or dancing backward is a stiff physical and mental coordination challenge, if you are so brag about physical and mental fitness.

  • For over three decades, I have done one of those ab exercises while driving. Just draw your abs toward the back of the car seat.

  • Hi. I’m a 58 yo paramedic who has started to carry a bit of extra weight that I’d love to get rid of. Since having my Alta I’ve been so much more aware of just moving about, doing incidental exercise. The next step is to be a little more stern about my eating habits. I eat pretty healthily, I just eat too much and tend to be a ‘nibbler’. Any thoughts on how I can distract myself from putting food into my mouth when I know I don’t need it?
    Any advice welcome!

  • Great ideas. However I am a former runner and aerobics teacher. I destroyed my knees to the extent that I am in pain with each step I take. 70 years old, 3 breast cancers, a double mastectomy, less than 2 years ago, and 2 bad falls, this past year, where I broke ribs, and came down hard on the knees. That being said, I make a point of going for a mile long walk every day, and wear my fit bit One all the time. I am still able to get 5000 to 8000 steps in a day, but in a lot of pain. I have used your plane suggestions, both when flying and sitting. The fit bits presence helps me be aware at all times, that I have to get up and squeeze in and extra 200 steps. At 70 years old, it is getting more difficult and painful, by the day, to move. But I continue to move regardless.

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