Here’s a dirty little secret that luxury gym chains and big-name personal trainers don’t want you to know: If you eat the right foods, you don’t have to sign up for an ultramarathon training program or fork out $300 per-month on tailor-made fitness instruction in order to get stronger, leaner, and feel better. In fact, you can simply move more, walk more, and make tiny little decisions throughout the course of every day that can actually add up to make a real difference to your body, your mood, and your sense of wellbeing.
Curious to know what these savvy little get-fit strategies are? Read on, because we reached out to several top trainers and health experts for their advice on lazy ways to get fit that you can start immediately. And for more great get-fit advice you can put into action, read up on the 100 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet to Avoid.
Turn your phone calls into walks.
“There simply is no reason why you can’t multitask like this while you’re catching up with your parents, friends, or others on the phone,” says Ashlee Van Burskirk, a personal trainer, former bodybuilder, and current owner of the fitness and nutrition company, Whole Intent. “Walking can be a mindless activity and your conversation will give you something to focus on. This way, you can stay in touch with your friends and family while also squeezing in some easy exercise, even if you’re just pacing back and forth in your apartment.”
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Stretch while you watch TV.
“While stretching doesn’t burn a ton of calories, it creates more space in the body and mind that encourages a state of relaxation,” says Clara Roberts-Oss, a 500-hour Yoga Teacher Trainer. “When we feel relaxed and at ease within ourselves, we’re less likely to stress-eat, consume alcohol, or indulge in the sweets and processed foods that negatively impact our bodies.”
“Stretching releases the feel-good hormones that counter the release of cortisol, the stress hormone that keeps us reaching for sugary snacks and booze.” Simply perform a few stretches while you’re watching TV to feel its effects.
Leave your fitness equipment lying in plain sight.
“A lazy way to get fit is to design your environment in favor of making more movement habits doable,” says Dorian “Gambit” Johnson, a trainer and wedding-specific weight loss coach who goes by the name The Bridal Architect. “Leave a kettlebell, bands, or dumbbells lying around on the floor. Pick one up when you pass it.” While you may not like the clutter, it will help remind you to use this equipment more often.
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Start habit stacking.
Habit stacking refers to the process of grouping together small but meaningful changes into your existing routine. In fact, habit stacking could be your new weight-loss ally, according to Saara Haapanen, BSc, MSc, a Ph.D. candidate, personal trainer, and performance consultant for the Colorado Governor’s Council for Active and Healthy Lifestyles. “Do 15 squats after you brush your teeth,” she says.
The key to habit stacking is to treat the cluster of tasks as one. So, if you do 15 squats after you brush your teeth, don’t view that as two tasks. It’s simply what you do every time you clean your teeth, bundled together as a single task. Over time, you’ll find that you’ve added hundreds of squats to your day and you’re burning more calories than you were before. And remember: Science has shown repeatedly that forming new habits is crucially important to sustaining your weight loss.
Brush your teeth right after you eat.
If you’re someone who is likely to over-snack—especially in the evenings—Lisa Kiersky Schreiber, a wellness coach and weight-loss author, has a handy tip that can help you eschew those unwanted calories and gain better control over your decision making. “Brush your teeth right after dinner,” she says. “This could prevent you from eating hundreds of extra calories because it’s unlikely you’ll want to have to brush your teeth again.”
Put all your water on the table.
“By the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated,” says Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS, of Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales, PA. “One of the biggest overlooked aspects of a weight-loss program is hydration. When your body becomes dehydrated, it slows down your metabolism. Keeping the body fully hydrated is essential for normal organ function, and your body needs water through the foods that you eat, as well as through eight-plus glasses of water per day.”
“I advise people to figure out many [glasses] of water they need for the day and place them on the counter,” says Conrad. “By the end of the day, if the counter is empty, you have reached your daily quota. Keeping track of your daily water intake will help with weight loss, increased digestion, and better skin.”
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Repeat after us: “I will walk more.”
“One of the easiest ways to get fit is to start adding in more walking to your day,” says Robert Herbst, a personal trainer, weight-loss expert, and 19-time world champion powerlifter who supervised the drug testing at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and will have a similar role in Tokyo this year. “Walking is great exercise because it builds muscle, raises your metabolism, improves cardiovascular and aerobic capacity, and creates new neural connections in the brain. Adding more walking is easy, even in a pandemic world. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther from your destination, and refuse Zoom calls and talk on the phone so you can pace. All that total movement adds up.”
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Make time for squats.
“Work 10 squats into your day 3 times a day,” advises Jill Rubin, PT. “Squatting works the core, glutes, and calves to promote posture and decrease back pain. Squat to your desk chair, a low bench, or even the stairs.”
Dance whenever you can.
“Here is a fitness tip for those who don’t have time or energy,” says Milana Perepyolkina, the bestselling author of Gypsy Energy Secrets: Turning a Bad Day into a Good Day No Matter What Life Throws at You. “Turn on your favorite music and wiggle your body. Dance as silly as you can. Move those hips, shake those shoulders. Instead of walking from the living room to the kitchen, dance your way there. In fact, start dancing instead of walking. The release of endorphins (feel-good chemicals) will bring a smile to your face each time.”
And for more great fitness advice, read up on The Super-Quick Workout That Is Scientifically Proven to Work, Say Experts!