Long before fast food, mobile phones and corporate America, our primitive ancestors farmed, hunted, gathered, and walked sometimes 10 miles EACH day!

Fast forward to modern times, where we walk to and from our car, to and from the refrigerator, and “lift” our cell phones to our ears.

According to the American Health Association, it is killing us, literally:

“As many as 250,000 deaths per year in the United States are attributable to a lack of regular physical activity.”

In fact, this study published in the Wall Street Journal even found a correlation between simple sitting for more than three hours a day and a decreased life expectancy of two years (even if physically active!).

Okay, so we don’t have to ditch today’s culture and become hunting savages to reap the health benefits of moving. The point is that we are genetically adapted to move, though; our health depends on it!

Enter in the excuses: we are busy, overworked, underslept (how’s that for a new word!?), have children, and travel a lot.

I’ve been there.

Flying throughout the U.S. and overseas, driving, and taking trains for business, I still found a way to fit in exercise, albeit in unconventional ways.

Here’s the deal.

1) As time consuming as we think it is, exercise is an answer to many of our problems. It is known to relieve stress, aid in sleep, and boost endorphins and mood!

2) Forget the all-or-nothing attitude when it comes to exercise. This isn’t possible with our crazy schedules! Besides, it’s the continued, moderate exercise that we do daily and weekly that benefits us the most overall.

Yes, the good news is that you don’t have to run a marathon to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits of exercise! In fact, steady-state, moderate intensity cardio stimulates our appetites to eat more, causes high calorie cravings, and doesn’t actually burn that many more calories than at a sedentary state.

3) Remember, exercise is not an antidote for bad eating (see previous post here). With the majority of our health affected by our eating (which we can control), adding intermittent exercise when possible will only optimize our health further.

Thus, below are a few baby step ideas to implement SMALL ways to add in a continuous, total movement during your week.

Just think, you can leave work with over 30 minutes of accumulated exercise, giving you more time to spend how you desire!

Before Your Work Day

  • Join a gym near your office (unless your office has one!), and get a 20-30 minute workout in on the way to work.
  • Or, stay at home and pop in a workout DVD (Jillian Michaels has a 20-minute DVD!), go for a 15 minute brisk walk, or do a fast circuit in your living room! (i.e. 5 rounds of 10 pushups, 15 jumping jacks, 20 squats, 20 lunges.)
  • Park in the furthest (most reasonable) parking spot for extra walking to the office. Even if it’s ONE extra minute, that’s one extra minute of moving!
  • Take the stairs to your office.

During Your Work Day

  • Stand up (and pace or walk) while you chat! If you have an office with a closed door, no one will notice. If you have a cubicle, walk over to a more private area of the office. If the phone isn’t mobile, put the phone on speaker in your office (or if you’re in a cubicle, you can still stand up while talking and straighten up your desk.) Or, ask your boss for a standing work station. 
  • Find an excuse to move every 1 – 2 hours to prevent being sedentary in the office. Go to the bathroom. Grab a coffee. Take the stairs twice. Meet your co-worker in a different area of the office. If you’re hunkering down on a project and don’t want to distract your focus, set an alarm every 1 – 2 hours and simply stand up, do some jumping jacks or stretches, and then get back to work.
  • Use your lunch hour!!! If you have a 15-minute or 30-minute lunch hour, go for a walk. After all, studies show that exercise at work boosts productivity and decreases sick days! You can bring a co-worker along with you to socialize, and eat your lunch at your desk afterwards.
  • If you have a full hour break, head to a gym nearby and bust out a 20-minute circuit or interval workout! For the ladies out there, shower quickly and save time by not washing your hair (it’s good not to wash it every day!). Use baby powder to soak up the grease and a blow dryer, if needed.

After Your Work Day

  • Hit an exercise class, take a relaxing walk for 3o minutes, or go play your favorite sport directly after work. Or, join a friend or an intramural team to hold you accountable! For the local GR folk, try 8th Day Gym for a fast, effective, FUN workout under an hour!
  • De-stress with 10 MINUTES of movement/exercise. When you’re exhausted from a long work day, need to get home to the kids, and don’t feel like doing anything, find 10 minutes to do SOMETHING. I guarantee that 1) You’ll feel better and less stressed afterwards, and 2) the 10 minutes may turn into 15, or 20, or 3o minutes (but it’s okay if it doesn’t, too!). Giving yourself permission to do the bare minimum is sometimes the key to kickstarting motivation.
  • Make it a family affair! Start a family tradition of taking a post-dinner walk, or throw a football around. If it’s cold, play a Nintendo Wii game (tennis?) or put on some music and dance.
  • Fit it in when the kids go to bed. Take a short, relaxing stroll after the kids go to bed, but just make sure it’s 2 hours before you head to bed, as it can inhibit sleep.

During Your Travels

  • If there’s time before heading to the airport, hit the gym before or bust out that 20-minute circuit in your living room that I mentioned earlier.
  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator. Yes, I am that girl who hauls my carry-on and backpack up the long flight of stairs while the masses sit on the escalator!
  • If you’re near your gate and have time to kill, power walk through the terminal. Sometimes, I’ve gotten in 45 minutes of walking prior to flying, which I especially appreciate before international flights. Or, if you have a tight connection, don’t hesitate to sprint; fellow travelers will understand.
  • If it is a long flight, move every 30 minutes to an hour whether flexing your arms and legs in your seat, or standing in the aisle (great for blood clot prevention, too!).
  • Airplane bathroom = gym! Yes, I am again that girl who has probably made you wait longer than normal for the bathroom, because I’m busting out airplane bathroom squats. Shoot for 30 – 50 in a row, and you’ll finish right before you start to break a sweat.
  • Book a hotel with a gym, and use when possible before, during, or after meetings. If there is no gym available, walk or jog outside, find a gym nearby, or run the hotel stairs!
  • If your hotel has a TV/DVD player, bring along a workout DVD and a jumprope, and get after it in your hotel room.

What other tips and tricks do you have for the busy, overworked, and/or traveling person!? Share below!!


Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms. Mayo Clinic. <>.

Exercise at Work Boosts Productivity, Swedish Researchers Find. 8 September 2011. <>.

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep. Kansas State University. 1997. <>.

Kresser, Chris. 9 Steps to Perfect Health – #7: Move Like Your Ancestors. 10 March 2011. <>.

Myers, Jonathan. Cardiology Prevention Page. <>.

Seidman, Andrew. Sitting for More Than Three Hours a Day Cuts Life Expectancy. 10 July 2012. <>.