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We’ve all heard the common (and sometimes conflicting) prescriptions when it comes to getting exercise: Get into a routine, do it with a friend, mix it up, keep it the same, make it convenient, take the stairs, bike to work! But only some 30 percent percent of us are actually getting to the gym or pounding the pavement with any regularity.
That’s a problem, and here’s why: Not only are we suffering from a growing obesity epidemic in this country, exercise also helps you sleep better, stress less, and feel happier. It’s shown to boost energy, improve sex, and just generally make life better. Oh, and as with most of our recommendations: It helps you look hotter too.
But the truth is, we all know this—and yet we still find it hard to fit exercise into our routines. So instead of offering up the usual yawn-worthy tips, we’re going to suggest some tricks instead. Click through the slideshow for seven ways for you to be more active without really noticing.
Click “Next” above to get moving.
Illustration by Will Etling
This is part of a series inspired by No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics, by Siobhan O'Connor and Alexandra Spunt.
Read more on their blog.
Stand while you work. Standing up requires two times the energy as sitting down, but calories are not the only reason to consider this unusual method of working. Standing desks are gaining in popularity for other reasons too. Being upright may help you get ideas out, help alleviate back problems associated with long hours at the computer, and burn fat.
Pace while you talk. High-strung people tend to this anyways—have you ever noticed how thin they are despite what they may eat? Every time your cell rings, pop up from your desk (or couch) like you have somewhere important to go and take that conversation on the road. Not only is that less annoying for co-workers, it’s a mindless way to get activity in. Pace up and down the halls of your office, or up and down your front street. Pacing burns about 90 calories an hour, which adds up if you spend half your day on conference calls.
Meet halfway. Tie exercise to an activity that you’d rather be doing, like going for a drink. Think of this as the buddy system for lazy people: Make a pact with a friend whom you hang out with frequently to always meet at some walkable halfway point, rather than taking turns going to each other’s neighborhoods. There’s just something about having a destination that takes the boredom out of exercise.
Have more sex. This is tired but true advice, folks: Sex is the most fun anyone will have burning calories. It’s a total get-out-of-jail free card from the gods: Even the laziest people on earth tend to enjoy a good romp. And aside from the myriad other benefits it offers—like happy hormones, glowing skin, and less stress—it’s a great way to get your heart rate going.
Do two-minute exercise spurts. For some of us, even 20 minutes of exercise can feel like a lifetime. But two minutes? Anybody can do that. Here’s what you do: Set your phone alarm every hour on the hour and as soon as it goes off, do jumping jacks for two whole minutes. If you stick to that plan between 8am and 6pm you will have added 20 minutes of high-intensity cardio to your day, which is pretty darn good for your health. It will also likely up your productivity and burn an additional 200 calories.
Play music while you clean. You may have already heard that doing housework can burn all sorts of calories, but we’re going to bet that adding music to the mix will put even more bounce in your scrub. Listening to upbeat tunes can also boost your mood and distract you from unpleasant thoughts—just like your cleaner home can—making chore time pass more easily.
Make it a date. Not an exercise date per se, just a regular date that involves movement. If you’ve recently started seeing someone that you like, just about anything you do together will be fun. So instead of another dinner date, try an evening walk through the city, an afternoon picnic with a game, or some other sport you both like. The same goes for longstanding couples: Couples who play together stay together, so adding a little variety to the routine that gets you both moving is a great way to spice things up.