Making time for 20-30 minutes of daily physical activity that raises your heart rate can significantly raise your HDL (good) cholesterol. Try our 25 easy ways to fit exercise into your day.
The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association recommend that healthy adults ages 18-65 get 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) five days a week. Researchers say three 10-minute intervals of aerobic exercise a day can be just as beneficial.
We've got 25 solutions to fit these important minutes into your busy day. You don't even have to break a sweat!
1. Stand or walk while talking on the phone. You burn more calories standing than sitting and even more when you add movement.
2. While watching TV, lift light weights to incorporate more strength-building exercises into your day.
3. Clean up! Wash windows, mop, and scrub the tub to burn calories and beautify your home.
4. If your home has more than one level, use the bathroom on the floor above or below you to incorporate stair-climbing into your day. You can apply this rule anywhere you go.
5. Take a few minutes to stretch when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed at night.
6. If you have errands to run near your home, walk instead of driving. You'll burn calories instead of gas money.
7. Skip the drive-through at banks, restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, etc. Park your car and walk inside.
8. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. You'll likely get places even faster when you don't have to wait for the elevator to arrive.
9. Listen to songs that motivate you to get moving.
10. Start an exercise journal. Write down when you exercise and what workouts you do.
11. Get out your calendar and schedule exercise time for the next week. Reward yourself when you complete all scheduled sessions.
12. Put exercise reminders around the house. Move them around and change the messages occasionally so you don't overlook them.
13. Exercise with a buddy. When someone holds you accountable, you're more likely to stay motivated to keep moving.
14. Stay active and, at the same time, support your favorite causes by participating in charity walks or races.
15. Instead of meeting a friend for dinner or coffee, meet for a game of golf, tennis, or another favorite sport.
16. Play with the kids. Whether it's your children, grandkids, or nieces and nephews, spend time running around with them and try to keep up. This activity boost comes with guaranteed smiles.
17. Wear a pedometer and strive for 10,000 steps a day. Start the morning with a short walk to get several hundred steps finished early.
18. Keep a pair of sneakers nearby at all times so you're always ready for activity. Stow a pair in your car or your desk at work as well as at home.
19. Use light ankle weights a couple of times a week when you walk to increase calorie burn and reap the strength-building benefits.
20. Explore trails or streets in a new neighborhood. A change in scenery helps keep your routine fresh.
21. Walk while listening to an audiobook. You'll walk farther to hear more of the story, and you'll look forward to tomorrow's walk.
Tip: To lose 1 pound of fat, you have to burn 3,500 calories. In one hour, a 150-pound person will burn about 470 calories jogging, 370 calories gardening, or 300 calories walking.
22. Take advantage of the seasons. Start a garden in the spring, wash your car in your driveway in the summer, take a nature hike in the fall, and build a snowman in the winter.
23. Do eight to 12 push-ups against a wall for muscle strengthening. As you get stronger, add sets or make the push-ups more challenging by doing them on an incline, such as against a kitchen counter.
24. Try something new or something you've always wanted to do. Sign up for a yoga class, go kayaking or canoeing, or take a ballroom dance class.
25. If bad weather is keeping you inside, pop in a fitness DVD. If you don't have any exercise DVDs, check one out from your local library.
Need a reminder of these great exercise ideas? Get all 25 suggestions in one printer-friendly download.