20 Easy Ways to Build Exercise Into Your Daily Routine

Simple ways to incorporate more movement and avoid the harmful effects of too much sitting

Sitting is bad and moving is good; if you've paid even the slightest bit of attention to updates about health and fitness over the past year or so, you've likely already been informed about the implications that are associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

The biggest problem is that even if you exercise every day, you're still not immune to the negative effects of repeatedly sitting down for prolonged periods of time. As we’ve mentioned in previous stories on the subject, many studies are finding that the consequences of too much sitting—such as an increased risk for cancer, heart disease and type two diabetes—aren’t easily reversed by spending long amounts of time exercising.

Rather, to avoid these health risks, it’s imperative that in addition to a regular exercise routine (30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days per week or 20 to 60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise three days per week, according to recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine), we should be exercising more frequently at intermittent times throughout the day as well; for two minutes right after waking up, for five minutes during your mid-morning break, for 20 minutes after lunch.

If the idea of “exercising” several times a day sounds overwhelming to you, don’t let it psyche you out. We’re not talking about going to the gym and getting super sweaty five times a day; hardly anyone has time for that.

Instead, think about simple ways that you can move more in your day-to-day settings—while you're at work, during time spent at home or while running errands on the weekends.

Short on ideas about just how you can do that? Here are a few easy examples of how you can build "exercise" into your daily routine.

During the Work Day:

  • Stand up to take phone calls.
  • Go for a walk at lunch.
  • Take the stairs.
  • Walk to the break room, water cooler or restroom every 90 minutes or so. (Set an alarm on your phone so you don’t forget.)
  • If you have the time, use your lunch break to go to the gym.
  • Commute by bike to work.
  • If you’re really busy with work, stretch/exercise at your desk.
  • Have a question for a coworker? Walk to their desk instead of sending an email.
  • When possible, court clients with meetings centered around activities like golf or social fitness classes.
  • Invest in some office-friendly fitness equipment.

When you're at home:

  • Play fitness oriented video games, like Wii Fit or Dance Dance Revolution.
  • Dance around your house just for fun.
  • Clean. (It totally counts as exercise.)
  • Play with your pets.
  • Do a few sets of bodyweight exercises (squats, lunges, push-ups, burpees, etc.) any time you have an extra 5 or 10 minutes to spare, during commercial breaks while watching TV or in between episodes if you’re watching Netflix.

When you're out and about:

  • Walk or ride your bike to your destination whenever possible.
  • Park your car as far away from the door as possible when running errands.
  • If you use public transportation, ride standing up. And if you have the time, get off one or two stops early and walk the extra distance.
  • At the mall or department store: take the stairs and skip escalators and elevators.
  • Instead of always opting for sedentary plans, like going to the movies, schedule more adventurous weekend activities like bike rides, park dates or easy day-hikes.

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