15 Ways to Improve Your Fitness

Don’t let exercise be the first thing to fall off your busy schedule. Learn how to work in a workout―and make it really effective.

Photo by Kate Powers

1. Exercise in quick spurts. A new study has found that people who did just four to six 30-second sprints reaped the same heart-health benefits as those who logged a moderate 40- to 60-minute workout. Two ways to get your heart racing: Jump rope for three minutes, or sprint to and from the mailbox three times (ignore the neighbors’ curious looks). If you live in an urban area, sprint blocks sporadically (just pretend you’re running for the bus).

2. Make your home a fitter place. To help you flex your muscles more often, leave a set of dumbbells near your microwave and do curls while heating up dinner. Put a yoga mat next to the bed so you can do downward dogs when you get up or at bedtime. Hang a resistance band on the bathroom doorknob and strength-train while the tub fills up. Or use a stability ball as a desk chair to engage your core when paying bills.

3. Inconvenience yourself. Instead of always doing things the easy or fast way (standing on escalators, using valet parking), rethink the services that curb your activity level. Even tiny changes can make a difference. So don’t have someone else run upstairs to grab your sweater, for example; fetch it yourself.

4. Reinvent date night. If your usual evening out consists of dinner and a movie (read: sedentary), consider bonding in a more active way, like dinner and dancing or taking in a museum exhibition.

5. Or make a date with Michael Scott. You wouldn’t dare miss your favorite office-set comedy. So schedule regular workouts at your gym during your must-see TV shows and you’ll work up a sweat and watch the time fly. If you have equipment at home, slide it into TV-viewing position―a workout in itself.

6. Deskercise. To squeeze in a few moves at work, download Break Pal, a program that pops up on your monitor every 30 minutes with a three-minute routine ($20, breakpal.com). When the phone rings, take the call standing up to burn 10 percent more calories than you would chatting in a chair.