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Easy Ways to Exercise at Home or Work

Can fitting extra movement into your day really help you get fit?

Exercise: Every Little Bit Helps continued...

Another idea for getting some easy exercise at home? Instead of fast-forwarding through commercials while watching your favorite shows on TIVO, "do jumping jacks or march in place during the commercial break. This type of activity really starts to add up," she says.

Still, when possible, it's best to keep moving for at least 10 minutes at a time.

"The guidelines state that we should aim for 30 minutes of moderately intense activity on five or more days of the week or vigorous activity for at least 20 minutes on three or more days of the week," says Ruth Ann Carpenter, MS, RD, LD, director of dissemination at The Cooper Institute in Dallas and author of Active Living Every Day. This can be done in 10 minute bouts, she adds.

"That's not to say a five-minute walk in the parking lot isn't going to help, but research suggests that a sustained 10-minute bout is needed," she says.

Pumping Kitty Litter Instead of Iron?

It may be a bit more challenging to work full-body strength training activities into your daily routine, says Carpenter.

"You are going to improve the strength of your lower body by taking the stairs compared with walking on level land," she says. But "there are not a lot of daily activities that involve upper body besides carrying the groceries and picking up kids."

Indeed, moms have no excuse not to strength train, Coopersmith says. "When you pick up your kid, you can use it as an opportunity to do a squat," she says. "Pick up your kid by bending down at your legs and then driving up from your knees and hips."

Stuhr agrees: "We always say that babies are the perfect progression in a strength training program because as they get heavier, you get stronger."

But even if you don't have children or groceries to lift, you can fit in some easy strength-training exercises by lifting everyday items at home.

"Whether it's your cat's litter or a huge thing of laundry detergent, try to fire off 10-12 bicep curls," Coopersmith suggests. "Pause. Recover and do it three times, and get some strength training."

You can even sneak in some strength training at work, says Carpenter. "You can do push-ups against the photocopy machine while you are waiting for your documents, or wear a headset instead of holding the phone so you can use dumbbells while at your desk," she says.

And don't forget your flexibility exercises, says Carpenter: "You can do neck rolls, shoulder rolls, and stretch your quadriceps or hamstrings while standing at your desk."

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