Day 8. Exercise Creatively
The Science Behind Why Being Creative With Exercise Can Help You Lose Weight
What do you think about when you hear the word “exercise”? Someone sweating it out on a treadmill? Heavily muscled men lifting weights in a gym? Marathon runners spending months of their lives and hours of their day training for a single race?
These are all legitimate ways to exercise. But they’re not the only way. Why exercise just once a day when you can work it into your daily life? It’s time to rethink how you approach physical activity.
There are many instances where we end up with a few minutes with nothing to do. Standing in line at the bank. Waiting for the microwave to finish. Brushing our teeth. The more of that time you spend exercising, the faster you will lose weight and achieve your goals.
Why Creative Exercise Matters
When you think creatively about exercise, you...
• Exercise more throughout your day
• Burn more calories
• Eliminate barriers (and excuses) like time and money
• Strengthen your entire body
When you don’t think creatively about exercise, you...
• Are locked into a few types of activity
• Tend to only exercise at certain times and in certain places
• Burn fewer calories
• Don’t take time to think about if you’re enjoying what you’re doing
• Are likely to become bored by your routine
The Science Behind Creative Exercise
Think you have to spend at least a half hour in the gym to have your activity count as “exercise”? Think again. A study published in 2013, in the American Journal of Health Promotion, looked at whether the duration of a given exercise has an impact on its positive outcomes. In other words, do you get the same benefit from exercising in intervals of less than ten minutes as you do from exercising for one long stretch? The results found the association that shorter periods of exercise were similar to longer ones.1
Science is starting to challenge the idea that exercise is only effective when done for long periods. Now we’d like to challenge you to rethink how you approach exercise. By being resourceful with your surroundings and consistent in using your time well, you can burn calories, lose weight, and get healthy without any special equipment or large chunks of time.
Make it Happen
Are you ready to rethink how you look at exercise and choose to be resourceful with how you move?
Make a Change: For the next 21 days, make a point to exercise creatively 3 times a day in 3 different situations.
Challenge Yourself: For the next 21 days, make a point to exercise creatively 5 times a day in 4-5 different situations.
At first it might feel strange to exercise in the kitchen, in the office, or in line at the grocery store. But the more you do it, the more you’ll realize how naturally small amounts of movement can fit into your routine.
Your Next Steps
1. Turn Your Kitchen into a Fitness Center: Your kitchen is the perfect place for small bursts of exercise. Not only is there enough space, you also have many pockets of time to work with as you cook and clean. Here are some unconventional kitchen exercises to get you started:
• Counter Pushups: Place your hands on the edge of your kitchen counter. Walk back so your body is at an angle. Push yourself up and down in a controlled manner to strengthen your upper body.
• Coffee Stretches: Waiting for your coffee to brew? Loosen up while you wait. Stand with the counter to one side of you. Put your hand on the counter, then swing the opposite leg front and back ten times. Turn so your other side is facing the counter and repeat with the other leg.
• Squat: Stand with your hands on the countertop and your feet hip width apart. Squat down, staying controlled and keeping your back straight, then push back up. As you grow stronger, squat further and further down.
1. Cardinal, B. & Loprinzi, P. (2013). Association between Biologic Outcomes and Objectively Measured Physical Activity Accumulated in ≥ 10-Minute Bouts and < 10-Minute Bouts. American Journal of Health Promotion, 27 (3), 143-151. https://doi.org/10.4278/ajhp.110916-QUAN-348
2. Exercise in the Bathroom: Your bathroom is another place where you can find bits of extra time to exercise. Try these ideas the next time you have a moment:
• Take Brushing to the Next Level: As you brush your teeth, stand with your feet wide and your toes pointing out. Slowly raise yourself up and down, working your inner thighs. You can do the same while drying or styling your hair.
• Leg Lifts: Stand facing your sink. Hold onto the countertop and lift your leg straight out behind you. Hold it in position, then pulse it a few times before lowering it back down. Repeat ten times for each leg.
• Shower Reminder: If you’re having trouble remembering to include small bits of exercise into your day, use your shower as a reminder. Every time you turn the water on, that’s your cue to do something. Do squats, lunges, crunches, or push-ups as the water heats up.
3. Standing in Line: Standing in line is the perfect time to work on your balance. Simply stand straight, lift one foot slightly off the ground, and suck in your stomach. You don’t have to lift your foot up much - just enough so that you’re conscious of the way your core is supporting you. Count to ten, then do the same on the other side.
4. While You’re Pumping Gas: Don’t waste the time you wait for your tank to fill. Stand on one leg, do calf raises, or stretch out your calves while you pump.
5. Walk a Little Farther: Small amounts of steps can really add up. Look for ways to add more walking to your day. Park further back in the parking lot when you go shopping. Get off the bus a stop early and walk the rest of the way to work. Take your dog out for more walks. Walk over to your coworker’s cubicle instead of emailing or calling. Every step counts!
6. Make it a Family Affair: Teach your kids the importance of staying active by exercising as a family. A game of tag or going swimming together can get your heart pumping, plus it will help instill a lesson that can last a lifetime.
Think Long Term
Small bits of exercise are just as beneficial after your 21 Day Challenge is up. Keep these tips in mind as you move forward to keep reaping their benefits.
Ramp it up. As you continue to exercise, you’ll grow stronger. Look for ways to add more resistance to what you’ve been doing. Move from a countertop pushup to one on the floor. Add more weight to your squats. Stand on one foot for longer periods of time. Keep finding ways to challenge yourself.
Keep it interesting. Research and invent new ways to add more variety to your daily movements. Think about which exercises you enjoy the most and go from there
Don’t give up. Even if you’ve gone a few days (or a few weeks) without exercising, now is always a great time to start again. It won’t take long to get back on track, so don’t wait to get back to it.