Quick Fit List: 5 Hacks To Squeeze Exercise into Everyday Life

As a physician, you already know fitness is a critical component of total health that also has a major impact on reducing disease and other health risks. And you know exercise plays a key role in improving mental health. But knowing isn’t the same as doing.

Are physicians and PAs focusing on fitness?

Like patients, physicians and PAs struggle to find time to fit fitness into lives crammed with professional demands, personal responsibilities, and ever-growing to-do lists. In your practice, you have undoubtedly shared fitness advice — like taking the stairs, or parking farther away from the store or office — with your patients to help them get more exercise in their day. Are you following your own advice?

In recognition of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, we’ve put together a Quick Fit List, 5 “hacks” to squeeze exercise into everyday life. Use the list to help you — and your patients — find more ways to make time for exercise, without making major changes that may just be unrealistic right now.

Quick Fit List: Hacks to Squeeze Exercise into Everyday Life

When it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing, right? As far as a rigorous exercise regimen is concerned, it’s just not possible for everyone — so “imperfect” is also better than “perfect.” As you know, the keys to fitness success are consistency and effort. Our Quick Fit List features 5 quick and easy ways to make exercise part of everyday life and is a great place to start making the effort and being more consistent about focusing on fitness.

  1. TRY 4 SECONDS. If you sit most of the day, breaking up sitting with short bursts of intense exercise several times a day can undo some of the adverse effects of being sedentary. Just 4 seconds of intense exercise multiple times a day can help. So, every time you stand up to stretch, get coffee, see a patient, or go to a meeting, try adding a quick burst of exercise. Jumping jacks are a good option. Too easy? Try plank jacks. Read the study here.
  2. FIND 3 MINUTES. What if you extend your 4-second burst into a 1-minute burst? It will also add up. Just a 1-minute burst of movement three times a day has been shown to make a meaningful health difference. And it doesn’t even have to be “exercise.” So don’t just walk up the stairs to your office, run up them. Sprint to your car in that farthest-away parking spot. Or carry your groceries to the car instead of using a cart. Read the study here.
  3. LAUNCH A NEW TINY HABIT. In his book “Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything,” author BJ Fogg, PhD recommends tying new habits to existing habits, or “anchor moments,” to give the new habit a better chance of sticking. The hack here: Connect exercise to something you already do. Like counter pushups while you wait for your Keurig to brew. Or holding a deep squat while you brush your teeth. Or balancing on one foot while you supervise the kids in the tub. Here’s another idea: Try a few minutes of chair yoga or other seated exercises from your comfy couch for the first few minutes every time you sit down to watch TV for the night.
  4. UP-LEVEL YOUR WALK. If you’re already walking, good for you! Take it up a notch. Add a weighted vest to boost intensity, which doesn’t strain ankles and shoulders like hand or ankle weights can. Increase your speed for the duration of your walk. Or add bursts of increased speed or even short intervals of running to your walk. If you walk outside, seek some hills. If you walk on a treadmill, increase your incline.
  5. MAKE IT SOCIAL. Most of us prefer spending time with friends and family over getting a workout in. And many of us make time for getting together — but not for exercise. You can do both! Get moving with your people. Add movement to the time you already spend together. Instead of a date night dinner out, do something active like dancing. Instead of meeting friends for drinks to catch up, meet up and go for a hike. The same can work for your monthly book club, try kicking it off with a 10-minute walk. Got kids? Replace some screen time with a couple of minutes of yoga during their weekend morning routine — and yours. The card deck Yoga Pretzels is a fun place to find ideas.

When it comes to finding time for fitness, it’s OK to start small. Just start!