Finding Time for Fitness

Can’t get to the gym? We’ve got 10 ways to burn calories and build muscle throughout the day.

By: Dan Welden

After hitting the snooze button for the 10th time, you wake up 30 minutes before you have to be at work, take a power shower, throw on your least wrinkled outfit, and run out the door, barely leaving enough time to grab a coffee. Then you get to work and realize you have five meetings, four conference calls, 100 emails, lunch with a client, and a networking event that evening. Sound familiar? 

With this kind of hectic daily schedule, how are any of us supposed to find time to work out? When your busy life makes it impossible to get to the gym, it’s useful to rethink a typical workout routine, spreading it out in short bursts. Here are 10 ways to burn calories and build muscle throughout the day.

1. Stretch in the shower. Stretching should be performed slowly and deliberately, with no jerky or bouncy movements, and always under warm water. Take your time and enjoy this moment to limber up and get in tune with your body. Make it sensual and explorative—but be careful not to slip!

2. Do calf-raises while brushing your teeth. Standing calf-raises are simple and can be completed easily while tending to your oral hygiene. Just raise your heels off the ground as if you’re trying to reach something off a very high shelf, then slowly return them to the ground and repeat. Keep the movements slow and controlled. If you’re up to it, repeat the calf-raises while styling your hair.

3. Always take the stairs—at your apartment, in the subways, at your job, etc. 

4. Do seated leg pull-ins during your conference calls. In your office chair, lift your legs so that they are parallel to the ground, then bring your knees to your chest, and extend back out to the starting position. Repeat until you just can’t pull-in no more.

5. After every meeting, just before you get back on your computer, bust out a few minutes of push-ups. 

6. Take a minute or two to do some lunges in your office. Stand in the upright position. While looking forward and keeping your back straight, step forward approximately two to three feet with either your right or left foot, dropping your back knee to just above the ground. When performed correctly, your front knee should not go past your toes and your thigh should be vertical, as well as your torso. Stand and return to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg. 

7. After work and before those networking events, take your backpack or briefcase and do side and front straight arm-raises. Make sure it’s light enough not to strain your shoulder, but heavy enough to be challenging. A straight arm-raise is performed just like it sounds: Keep your arm straight with your backpack or briefcase in hand, raise your arm until it’s parallel to the ground, and then lower it to the starting position. Do this movement for about 30 seconds and switch. Aim to do this three times per arm.

8. Don’t put the briefcase or backpack down yet, because it’s time for some curls. Hold your backpack or briefcase in your hand with your arm straight and then bend at the elbow, bringing your hand toward your shoulder. Once your bicep is fully contracted, hold for a second, then return slowly to the starting position, and repeat. Curl until failure, then switch arms. Try to complete three sets per arm.

9. Skip the taxi and walk to that networking event. If it’s too far, take public transportation a few stops short of the event and walk the rest of the way.

10. After you get home for the evening, turn the lights down, light some candles, run some warm water, and get back to stretching. If you really want to kick it up a notch, ask someone to assist.