How to Turn Doing Errands Into a Killer Workout

Cynthia Dermody

grocery shopping errandsYou're thinking about errands all wrong. Don't view them as drudgery, time-sucks, or tasks that ruin your weekend. Think of doing errands as a golden opportunity to 1) Get some alone time, unless you have to bring the kids along, then double-bummer; and 2) Get in shape.

Women are the masters at squeezing big things into little spaces -- toys in storage baskets, growing feet into shoes, juggling doctors appointments and teacher conferences in the middle of a workday. Exercise should be no different. Here are three ways to get a good workout while you're on the go:

1. Wear workout clothes

Presuming most of your errands will be on the weekends, this shouldn't be a problem. Wearing comfy clothes that will inspire you to move is the first step to being active. Black yoga pants or stretch Spandex capris look great anyway; now pair them with a nice stretch t-shirt under a zip-up jacket or a sweatshirt so you're ready to go when the opportunity presents itself. (And don't worry, everyone's too busy sorting through their coupons to notice you doing a couple of power laps around the perimeter of the grocery store.)

 2. Run while you wait

So much of errands is about waiting ... waiting for your kid to finish soccer practice, waiting for the takeout order, waiting to see the doctor. Sometimes you just can't just abandon your kids or leave your spot, but in those situations when you can, go for a brisk walk or run around the parking lot or field. Ask the receptionist how long the doctor will be and take advantage of that 10-minute wait outdoors -- doctors come in contact with far grosser things than a little sweat. But here's the best reason for dividing up your daily workout: A landmark study from 2004 found that three 10-minute runs throughout the day keep your metabolism elevated and lead to a higher total calorie burn than one single 30-minute run.

3. Tone while you stand

Those errands where you have to stay put I was just talking about? Take a cue from the airplane advice and do stretches, squeezes, and yoga moves. Tighten and release your glutes; do toe lifts to shape your calves, tone your abdominals by doing a pelvic tilt while sitting in a chair, and, um, you know there's always Kegels. Everyone could use a few of those on a regular basis.

Bet you never thought you'd actually be excited to go the dry cleaners again, right?


How do you sneak exercise into your day?

Image via David McKelvey/Flickr

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