Skip to main content

No time to work out? Try these easy ways to fit movement into your day.

Many of us know that we should do 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day, as recommended for our health. But that can seem overwhelming for someone who hates to work out, or who is swamped with work or family commitments.

The good news is, any and all movement you do during your day makes a difference. If you are aiming for a half-hour or hour of daily exercise, it doesn’t have to be done all at once. You can break it up into smaller chunks throughout your day. A few minutes here and there adds up.

And even if a few minutes is all you do, know that any amount of exercise is better than none. Studies show that even small amounts of exercise benefit you physically and mentally.

Here are some simple, doable ways you can fit in small bits of exercise throughout your day.

Move before you get out of bed

Your cat knows that your bed is a great place to wake up with a nice stretch. So why not start your morning that way, too? Stretch your back and legs while you are still in bed.

You could even do some strengthening exercises in bed. A few to try are glute bridges (lie on your back with knees bent, and lift and lower your hips while you tighten your buttocks) and isometric ab contractions (tighten and release your stomach muscles).

Stretch in the shower

Why not? It feels great to stretch in warm water. Try our 5 neck and shoulder exercises in the shower. Then stretch your back with the cat-cow exercise (hands on knees, knees slightly bent; inhale as you arch your back and look up; then exhale as you round your back and tuck your chin). These exercises are wonderful if you tend to have neck, shoulder and back stiffness.

Tone up while you brush your teeth

Do calf raises (come up on your toes, and down) or squats while brushing your teeth.

Look for opportunities to walk

There are so many great reasons to walk. Walking helps prevent or improve type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. It makes your bones, muscles and joints stronger. It’s great for our brain health too. It helps improve memory and thinking, reduces the risk for Alzheimer’s, and helps prevent or improve depression. It also increases your energy and stamina.

  • Walk the dog. This is a great exercise that benefits you both! Many people make it a habit to walk their dog in the morning before work, and in the evening after dinner.
  • Walk while on the phone. Walking meetings and phone conferences are a lot more interesting than just sitting in a chair. Plus, walking even helps improve your creativity.
  • Walk during your lunch break. Take (or make) the time to get away from the computer and go outdoors for a breath of fresh air and sunshine. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you.

Get up and stretch during your workday

Sitting for long periods of time is hard on your body. It can lead to back problems and stiffness in your legs, shoulders and neck.

  • Set a reminder on your phone or fitness tracker to get up and move for a few minutes each hour.
  • Try these nine amazing stretches you can do in your workspace, whether at home or at the office. They will help you instantly feel better.
  • If possible, get an adjustable sit-stand desk so that you can periodically change your position throughout the day.
  • Work in a building or use a parking garage? Take the stairs instead of elevator. Venture the long way to go talk to a co-worker. If at home, walk up and down the stairs to strengthen your legs and glutes.

Work it while you wait

If you’re waiting in line to buy your groceries or grab lunch, make the most of it! Try calf raises, glute squeezes (tighten and release buttocks), or isometric ab contractions. All of these are small but effective movements. No one else will notice that you’re actually exercising.

Running errands

Park farther away. Take the stairs instead of escalator. Shopping at the mall provides a good opportunity to get in some beneficial walking.

Do push-ups against the kitchen counter

You can exercise while lunch or dinner is in the microwave. In fact, you can even do more exercises while you’re there. Here’s a quick cardio and strength kitchen workout you can do.

Take advantage of your TV time

You don’t have to choose between catching your favorite program and exercising. You can do both at the same time! Be active for a few minutes instead of sitting on the couch the entire time.

  • In fact, with this sofa workout you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your couch. Work your arms, abs, legs and glutes with this simple, no-equipment routine.
  • Put a stationary bike or treadmill in front of the TV. The time will fly by while you are exercising.
  • Do squats and lunges during commercials.

Chores around the house count, too

Housework and yard work can be a workout. Washing the car, pulling weeds, raking leaves, and mowing the lawn are vigorous activities. Indoor activities such as vacuuming, picking up toys, and cleaning the house also count as exercise.

Play with kids

When exercise is fun, it’s a lot easier to get motivated to do it. Playing with your children or grandchildren benefits all of you physically and emotionally. Plus, you’re making happy memories to cherish. For ideas, check out our list of 100 ways to keep kids active this summer.

See? It’s not that hard to sneak exercise into your day. To get started, pick one or more of these activities to try. 

authors photo

Michelle Rogers

Michelle Rogers

Certified Personal Trainer

Michelle Rogers is a certified personal trainer who specializes in healthy living for adults over 40. She leads classes and workshops online at Reachable Fitness, her virtual exercise studio. Find out more at and connect on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @MRhealthyliving.

Browse related articles

Wellness journaling for physical and mental health

Journaling for physical and mental health can support you in your journey. And you don’t have to be a great writer for it to work.

Join our 5-day walking challenge

Walk 10 minutes a day to reap the benefits.

Caring for mind, body after pregnancy

Becoming a parent is wonderful and exciting but also challenging, both physically and mentally.