In a new twist on multitasking, John Muir Health physical therapist Jeannie Peterson offers several workable ideas for getting exercise while you’re going about your daily routine.
Here’s an exercise you might not think of, but it will build flexibility (and safeguard your smile): doing calf stretches by putting one foot in front of the other and bending the front leg until you feel the stretch in the back leg—while brushing your teeth. “My patients are all doing calf stretches while they’re brushing,” says Jeannie Peterson, who teaches osteoporosis exercise and education classes at John Muir Women’s Health Center. “The only gear you need,” she adds with a chuckle, “is a toothbrush.”
Peterson’s bathroom exercises—which also include a “push-up” in which you place your hands on the edge of the vanity, stand 1 to 3 feet away, and lower and raise your body bending only your arms—are designed to get women to stretch and strengthen their muscles.
The long-range key to reaping the benefits of exercise—which include decreased stress, improved immunity and stronger bones—is finding simple ways to move more. Peterson suggests turning sedentary activities into active ones, like exercising while watching TV. Hand weights and stretching are good TV-time options. Using a treadmill, or any aerobic activity, is even better because it optimizes your breathing and circulatory function.
Another secret to regular exercise? Enlist others with that same goal. Find a partner to go walking or jogging with. By socializing on the go, you'll encourage each other to stay active.
One likely exception to this move-with-company rule is your morning bathroom routine. After you’re done with the push-ups and stretches, stand on one foot while grasping the doorway and do heel raises. Lift up onto the toes of your standing foot, slowly lowering to strengthen your muscles and improve your balance. And who knows? With practice, you might simultaneously brush your hair.
Expecting a baby? – Take the stairs to go from one floor to the next. Play music that makes you move while you do household chores.
Got kids? – Enroll in mommy groups that take walks and motivate each other. Or play tag, dance, tow your kids in a bike trailer, hike around the perimeter of the field during kids’ soccer games.
At work? – Bring your walking shoes and head out during lunchtime. Stand whenever possible. Don’t phone or e-mail co-workers; walk over and visit. Get into and out of chairs without using your arms.
Retired? – Walk daily, slowly adding hills or arm-strengthening exercises with bands, weights or water bottles.