Easy Exercise Ideas for a Busy Schedule


With our busy schedules, we could use some easy exercise ideas to fit into our hectic workdays and even evenings with the family. Why? Many of us struggle to find time to exercise—including cardiologists.

Kameswari Maganti, MD, who is the medical director of cardiac rehabilitation at Northwestern’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute in Chicago, IL, says her patients frequently ask her how she manages to fit exercise into her busy schedule. She tells them she gets up before sunrise every morning and takes a 5:15 spin class at her gym. “It sounds like an extremely ungodly hour, but if I don’t fit the exercise in, I don’t get home at any reasonable hour to go to the gym.”

Studies show that time spent exercising is well worth it—even if that means sacrificing a little sleep. In addition to losing weight, just 150 to 300 minutes of moderate exercise a week (or 20 to 40 minutes per day) can translate to lowered cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, reduced medications, improved sleep and more. While some people, like Maganti, prefer the gym, exercising does not require a membership card. Maganti shared with us these tips on how to fit even small amounts of exercise into a busy schedule.

Choose the far lot

Driving to work or to the store? Park as far away as you can. You’ll get extra steps in, and, since exercise is cumulative, those steps add up. The experts recommend you take 10,000 steps a day.

Step it up

When choosing between an escalator, elevator and the stairs, choose the stairs. Even if it’s just one or two flights, you’ll get your heart pumping, and the extra steps will add to your daily recommended goal of 10,000.

Walk this way

Walk whenever and wherever you can. Ditch the car and walk to work or to the store. Cut your lunch short and take a brisk walk. Talking on the phone? Multi-task and do it while walking.

Beware of the chair

Office jobs don’t have to be sedentary. Many workers are discovering the perks of the Swedish ball (a.k.a. stability ball). There’s no slouching when sitting on this inflatable sphere, which means it helps with posture and building your core.

Pedal power

Pedal while you work with an under-the-desk pedal exerciser. These inexpensive pedal devices fit discreetly under your desk and are surprisingly quiet. They’re great for women with desk jobs who are searching for a way to sneak in some calorie burning.

Lunging around

Take breaks throughout the day to do strengthening exercises, such as squats, lunges or lift light weights. Or take a quick break and run (or walk) up and down the stairs a few times. Strength training has a number of aerobic benefits, plus it protects you from osteoporosis and keeps your joints limber. It will do you more good in the long run than hitting the snack machine.

Trade movie night for something more active

Dancing and bowling are two fun, social activities that also count as a workout. Rather than sitting for hours in silence, as you do in a movie, choose an activity you enjoy and invite your friend or partner to join in.

Keep moving

The basic rule of thumb is moving is better than sitting. Even common chores, like cleaning and mowing the lawn, burn calories, so get up and get going. Walk around the mall, garden, ride your bike, play tennis or other sports. Know that by doing it, you’re doing something good for yourself.

Learn more about how to work out at work with equipment you can use at your desk on Go Red.