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5 Creative Ways To Squeeze Exercise Into Your Day, Especially When Busy

5 Creative Ways To Squeeze Exercise Into Your Day, Especially When Busy

I know it’s easy to blame your lack of physical activity on your busy life, but exercise doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Get fit on your schedule with these five creative ways to squeeze exercise into your day.

1. Start your day right with five minutes of movement as soon as you wake up.

Who says you have to train for an hour in the gym as soon as you start a new fitness plan? No one with half a brain. In order to create a new healthy habit that you can stick with, begin with a lifestyle change that is so small that you barely notice it. To illustrate, let’s say you have to be at work by 8 a.m., so you usually wake up around 6:30-7:00 a.m. (Note: I’m just using examples to make sure you get the idea, modify this to fit your own schedule). Simply wake up 10 or 15 minutes early and do the following workout*:

15-30 squats

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25-50 jumping jacks or run in place for 30 seconds (giving options here, because I notice most women hate jumping jacks, yes I know why, but I’m not saying it since that would be a little awkward)

10-25 push-ups (with your hands elevated on your wall or kitchen sink if needed)

25-50 jumping jacks or run in place for 30 seconds

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5 yoga poses/stretches of your choosing (make sure you take care of your upper *and* lower body)

*Note: I’m listing ranges of repetitions instead of a specific number, because I’m sure a wide range of folks with a variety of experience levels are reading this. If you’re not sure where to start, do this during your first training session: assuming a scale of 1-10 that describes how tired you feel, stop the exercise at #5. Write down how many repetitions you are able to perform and gradually add 2-5 more per workout to make it more difficult. Begin by performing a single set of every exercise listed for as many repetitions as you can safely, which should take about five minutes. When that becomes too easy, make it two sets. When that becomes too easy, make it three sets. You get the idea.

2. Get your gym gear together the night before.

Before you go to bed, lay out your gym and work clothes for the next day. It’s a lot easier to get organized while you’re still half-conscious than it is before you’ve had your coffee (and feeling like a zombie). For bonus points, put your gym shoes and socks next to the bed. If you workout in the evening, collect your training gear, put it in a bag, and toss it into your car.

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3. Treat exercise as if it is your job.

Exercise should be an enjoyable experience (if you’re doing it right), but there is no denying that you’re not always going to feel like working out. But since exercise is just as important for your physical health as going to work is for your fiscal health, why should it be treated any differently? Treat exercise as if it is a very important appointment by scheduling your training days on a calendar or planner. Aim to exercise on the same days, at the same times, every single week. If repeated consistently, this will train your brain to turn exercise into a consistent habit that doesn’t require much thought process.

4. Take a mid-day walk to relax and unwind.

Remember that early morning workout I gave you in point #1? If you’re interested in bonus points, here’s another easy way to squeeze exercise into your day. Sometime around the middle of your day (maybe at lunch time?), go for a 10-30 minute walk downtown or at a park. Breathe deeply and try to quiet your inner-chatter, enjoying the peace and silence, while you walk. You’ll come back to work re-charged and ready to make the most of the rest of your day (plus, you’ll burn extra calories too!).

5. Remember why exercising is important in the first place.

Never forget why pursuing health and fitness is so important in the first place. Do you want to be a positive example for your children? Could you use more energy to carry you gracefully throughout your days? Would you like to get fit so you can feel more confident in your body? Are you taking expensive pills with nasty side-effects, all of which could be avoided if you made a better effort to take care of yourself? Whatever the case may be, know your why.

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Questions for the Comments:

  • If you struggle to motivate yourself to exercise, why is that? No time or energy; overwhelmed or don’t know how to start; it’s too boring; lack of social support; (insert your thing here)?
  • If you plan to try out the “top o’ the morning” workout above, do you have any questions (and are you excited to crush it)?
  • If you know of any other ways to squeeze exercise into your day, please tell us in the comments so everybody can benefit!

Featured photo credit: Jogging with the kids/Ed Yourdon via flickr.com

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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