No matter how motivated I wish I was, every so often, I'll have a day when I just don't have the energy or the time to go to the gym for an intense weightlifting session, or head outside for a long run. Between work, self-care, and spending time with the people you love, it's almost impossible to set aside time to regularly work out. But fitness doesn't have to be that extreme for you to notice some serious benefits, according to experts. If you have no idea how to find time to work out on a regular basis, get ready to learn about a much more sustainable kind of exercise.
Move over, HIIT — aka high-intensity interval training — because the key to making more time for exercise lies in a little something called HIIPA, or high-intensity incidental physical activity. According to a new study that's been published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the 2018 U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are no longer strictly based on the idea that a single period physical activity has to last for at least 10 minutes to be beneficial to your health, thus opening up the definition of fitness to be something more conducive to an everyday, busy schedule.
Enter HIIPA, which, according to the new research, refers to common activities you already do throughout the day that can be beneficial for your physical health, such as washing your car, or carrying your full laundry hamper up and down the stairs in your apartment building. These short bursts of activity might seem like just another part of your average day, but according to the study's findings, they can actually lead to "remarkably consistent health and fitness benefits."
In other words, you don't necessarily need to be sweating your butt off for an hour straight in order to notice significant health improvements. "In terms of physical health, [everyday] activities can reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes," certified personal trainer, Emma Green, PhD (c), MSc, BSc, tells Elite Daily in an email. "This is because any type of activity improves your heart’s ability to function properly and your blood sugar control." Adding a couple of extra movements to your daily routine — think using the stairs whenever you can, even dancing around in your apartment to your favorite song when you're getting ready to go out — could also help you sleep better, give you more energy, and even help to strengthen your bones, according to Green.
If the concept of HIIPA has piqued your interest, your first priority should be to do things that you actually like to do, says Carol Michaels, MBA, ACE, ACSM, a personal trainer based in New Jersey. "Think about the activities or sports that you enjoy and do them," she suggests. Physical activity needs to become something you like to do if you truly want to make it part of your life. "You may know that it is necessary to exercise," she tells Elite Daily, "but unless you find an exercise that you enjoy, there is a good chance that you will not continue."
Again, though, "exercise" can truly mean so many different things. "When you wake up, you can sit and stretch, do a quick yoga routine, or meditate in your bed," says Rachel Reddish, director of fitness education at EoS Fitness. "You don't even have to get out of your warm comfy place! This is a great way to start or wrap up your day and to get blood flowing and your mind working as well."
A few tiny tweaks to your morning commute can also help you find more time for movement. For example, Joanna Stahl, fitness expert and CEO/founder of the fitness directory Go2Practice, suggests riding your bike or walking a few more blocks than usual on your way to work, taking the stairs up the subway, and/or taking the stairs in your office building. You can also grab your co-workers for a coffee-break walk in the middle of the day, she adds.
When you think about it, the sky is the limit when it comes to these everyday forms of movement. You could even turn your everyday chores into an opportunity for exercise by turning on some high-energy music, suggests Jill Belland, fitness expert and co-founder of Barre Belle. "Sweeping, vacuuming, shoveling are also great activities to get the heart pumping," she tells Elite Daily. If you play songs with a quick beat, she adds, you're even more likely to pick up the pace a little bit to get your body working.
Even shopping can be a form of exercise if you love to literally shop 'til you drop. "Instead of dealing with the hassle of finding a parking space close to the shopping center, you could park farther away and walk," Reddish suggests. "If the shopping center has an escalator and stairs, choose the stairs for an extra activity boost. Not only can this give you a little down 'you' time by getting to take an extra stroll," she explains, "but holding [shopping bags] is great for grip strength, endurance, and overall core strength as well."
For a super simple challenge for your muscles, try standing on one leg while you do everyday tasks, suggests Liz Harvey, regional director for fitness studios F45 Ashburn and F45 Tysons. "[Try] activities like putting on pants, reaching for the top shelf, walking up the stairs, she explains, "[any] functional movements that require muscle control and stability." Or hey, you could even brush your teeth while standing on one leg. If nothing else, it'll make that part of your routine a little less boring, right?