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10 low cost, low effort ways to fit exercise into your work life balance

My biggest excuse for not exercising is time. Some days, I tell myself I'm too busy to exercise -- the old work life balance excuse.  Muscle Milk Light trainer Jennifer Cohen, author of No Gym Required, says there are ways to fit fitness into your life without it being a big deal. So I asked her to share them with you and me, especially during the holidays when our calorie intake is bound to be higher.


Here are Jennifer's low-cost ideas to integrate fitness in your every day life:

  • Jump rope. Doing it for 15 minutes burns about 170 calories. To get the most out of jumping rope try alternating the tempo, jumping on one foot, or skipping while jumping rope, and/or adding in multiple spins of the rope between jumps.
  • Head to the park: Just being there (with your cell phone turned off) is refreshing. Tons of things you can do in the park from push-ups, planks, jogging, and chin-ups on the monkey bars. Swings can give you a fun core workout if you focus on propelling yourself using your center of mass. My personal favorite is doing steps or explosive jumps using park benches. A few minutes of these high steps and you'll definitely feel your legs burn! Plus you  burn an extra 130 calories for every 10 minutes!
  • Exercise at work. Try walking to someone's desk instead of calling and avoiding the elevator.Stairs can burn between 150-250 calories for every 15 minutes
  • Exercise on the go. At the airport, walk around instead of resting while waiting for a flight. Walking lunges, squats, push-ups against the wall or a chair are all great exercises. A good 10 minute stretch may only burn 30-50 calories but it will make you feel refreshed as well as keep you limber and less prone to cramping from extended periods of inactivity.
  • Exercise in line. On line in a grocery or retail store, stand on one leg then change legs. It really works your core. Standing on your  tip-toes is a great workout for your calves. Do that for 5 minutes and burn another 30 calories: Use the carry basket instead of the push cart. That way you are toning  arms, using your core, and getting a little workout.
  • Use TV time.  Doing crunches during the commercials will burn about 5-8 calories per minute. Do incline push ups off your coffee table and double that calorie burn.
  • Don't skip meals. Eating regularly is very important. Best thing to do is alternate days on watching your food. So, if you're really busy and can't eat well one day, make sure you make up for it by eating well the next day. Research has shown this is just as effective as dieting every day!
  • Do a little exercise every day: Do something! Whether it is taking a 15 minute walk or doing 15 minutes of exercise at home, 10 - 15 minutes is better than nothing. Try the classics such as push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, planks, and leg raises. The great part of these is that you can do them anywhere and that they're really effective. 
  • Consider Interval training. Interval training is key for the busy person. Use burst training and alternate between high impact and low impact to get much more out of a short time. Hitting 80-85% of maximum heart rate on and off can turn a 15 minute workout into the equivalent of 1 hour of working out.
  •  Drink smart: Staying hydrated is really key to get health. Helps you're body flush toxins and is a great opportunity to reward the body. Try to avoid too much pop, coffee, or anything artificially sweetened. Water is the best but tea is also great.
Do you think you can squeeze some exercise into your day? I'm going to try it today.