Monday, August 13, 2001

Fitness around the clock

Tips for turning daily activities into fitness opportunities

By Llee Sivitz
Enquirer contributor

        Most of us know what to do. We just have a hard time doing it.

        The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services publication “Healthy People 2010” says that 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily, 20 minutes of vigorous physical exercise three times per week, and regular activity which fosters muscle strength, endurance and flexibility are the minimum physical requirements for disease prevention and health.

        In 1996, the U.S. surgeon general reported that a sedentary person can attain “health” fitness when incorporating this amount of physical activity into their lifestyle. Attaining “physical” fitness requires a more intense activity level.

        If you are among the 85 percent of U.S. adults who, according to a National Health Interview Survey, do not meet even the basic health fitness standards for physical activity, you might want to consider these ways to squeeze fitness into your day. The calorie count below is a ball-park figure based on 160 pounds body weight and calculated from

        6:30 a.m. The alarm rings. Your first impulse is to roll over and go back to sleep. Fitness Approach: Remain in bed, but rather than sleep, use the support of your mattress to do some simple stretches to limber up. Total Time: 5 minutes. Calories used: 24. Plan B: Use your mattress as a trampoline and do several bounces (reserve pikes and flips for the weekend.)

        6:45 a.m. You usually stumble outside in your pajamas to get the morning paper. Fitness Approach: Pull on some sweats and sneakers and take a brisk walk around the block before reading the newspaper. Total Time: 5 minutes. Calories used: 24. Plan B: Jump on your bicycle and help the paperboy finish his route.

  • The calorie use of other activities you might not think of (based on 160 pounds body weight, calculated from
  • Sleeping, 8 hours, 521 calories
  • Standing (quietly, as in a line), 10 minutes, 14 calories
  • Running after your children, 30 minutes, 144 calories
  • Typing on the computer, 2 hours, 217 calories
  • Walking the dog, 20 minutes, 84 calories
  • Sitting, light office work, 8 hours, 868 calories
  • Food shopping with a cart, 30 minutes, 126 calories
  • Ironing, 15 minutes, 41 calories
        7 a.m. You normally grab a prepackaged breakfast. Fitness Approach: Scramble up some eggs or make French toast from scratch. Chop up some fruit and make yourself a quick brown bag lunch. Total Time: 15 minutes. Calories used: (for cooking) 45. Plan B: Eat a breakfast bar while running uphill on the treadmill.

        7:30 a.m. Driving to your job, you typically try to catch a few extra winks during stoplights and traffic jams. Fitness Approach: Take along some light hand weights. Do a few pumps at each red light or in stand-still traffic. Total Time: 10 minutes total. Calories used: 36. Plan B: Relive your adolescence and do some fire drills. (Jump out of your car, run around to the other side and jump back in) when traffic is stopped. Works best with a carpool.

        8 a.m. Time to enter your workplace. It's your daily routine to wait for the elevator while leaning against a wall for support. Fitness Approach: You know this one — take the stairs. Work on the 14th floor? Start by taking the elevator to the 12th floor and then walk up. Each week take the elevator one floor less. Total Time: 2 minutes for two flights. Calories used: 16. Plan B: Already walking the stairs? Yell “fire” to yourself and do it again.

        10 a.m. Coffee break. On a typical day you ask a co-worker to bring you a cup while you “finish up some paperwork.” Then you put your feet on your desk and catch a power nap. Fitness Approach: Get UP! Do a few toe touches, arm swings, neck turns, waist twists, leg or knee lifts, ankle circles. Go outside, breathe the open air, jump up and down or run in place for one minute to get your circulation moving. Remember to take the stairs on the way back! Total Time: 15 minutes. Calories used: 68. Plan B: Drink at least five cups of coffee. You won't be able to sit still the rest of the morning, plus you get the benefit of all those restroom breaks.

        Noon. Lunch time usually means lounging at the local feeding trough for 30 minutes. Fitness Approach: Remember that brown bag lunch? Take it with you and go for a brisk 5-minute walk. Before you sit down to eat, stretch again. Return to work in the same manner. Ask a co-worker to join you and support each other in this healthy routine. Total Time: 13 minutes. Calories used: 62. Plan B: Find a gym nearby and run in (literally) for a quick one-mile swim. Eat your lunch on the exercise bike. You can call this your “lunch triathlon.”

        1 p.m. Back to work. Predictably, after-lunch lethargy sets in. Fitness Approach: Stand up when you take a phone call or when talking with a co-worker. Take a walk to the water cooler (drinking water is important for a health fitness routine.) Instead of phoning co-workers, go see them (and take the stairs). Watch your posture. Keeping correct posture is a great workout for abdominal muscles. Total Time: 2 hours. Calories used: 232. Plan B: Take a well-deserve a break (or maybe a counseling session).

        3 p.m. Afternoon snack break. Like clockwork, the snack machines are calling you. Fitness Approach: Avoid an unhealthy snack attack by having a piece of fruit instead. Inquire about a wellness program at your workplace. Ask co-workers to help you request an exercise room in the building or possibly sharing facilities with another company. Think about your dinner plans and making healthy food choices. Find hallways where you can gather up speed while you walk, or take your walk outside. Finish with some simple stretches at your desk. Total Time: 15 minutes. Calories used: 48. Plan B: Gear up for the evening by running down hallways at top speed (watch out for those walkers!).

        5 p.m. Quitting time. Back in the car for that long snooze home. Fitness Approach: Put some peppy music on the car radio and shake your booty! Total Time: 30 minutes. Calories used: 54. Plan B: Run along side your car (be sure and steer with both hands!).

        5:30 p.m. Ahh. the modern conveniences of home. Remote controls for the TV, portable phones, automatic garage door openers, answering machines, even the light switches are on a timer. You don't have to lift a finger! Fitness Approach: Grab a light carbohydrate snack such as rice crackers or popcorn and then get some exercise. Don't have time? Pick a physical activity from your “to do” list such as gardening, washing the car, grocery shopping, mowing the lawn, cleaning house, cooking dinner. Total Time: 30 minutes. Calories used: 150 (average). Plan B: Burn, Baby, burn! Get that 20-mile (four- or five-mile?) run under your belt before dinner.

        7:30 p.m. Your evening calendar is full of places to go (most of them probably require sitting). Fitness Approach: Choose your evening activities carefully. Pick ones that require you to be at least moderately active. If you must watch TV, grab some weights and exercise during the commercials. Find more physically active ways to spend time with friends and family. Try something new. Total Time: 2 hours. Calories used: 108-350 (average). Plan B: Got a little more energy left? Time to max out that personal gym in the basement.

        10 p.m. Having difficulty falling asleep. Fitness Approach: Cuddling with your sweetie can burn some bonus calories. Total Time: 20 minutes. Calories used: 31. Fitness Approach: 14 minutes of stretching; 10-40 minutes of muscle increasing activity; 24 minutes of aerobic exercise; and 90 minutes of moderate physical activity. Calories used: 1,248. Plan B: Who needs a Plan B?

        Congratulations, and sleep well!
Videos to help you squeeze in fitness


Distracted drivers honk readers off
Ask a Stupid Question
Get to It
Insult helps woman to see her own prejudices
- Fitness around the clock
Correct form important for those with osteoporosis
Storm can't cut 'Girls Night Out' short
R. Kelly does his thing - and the ladies love it
Wade, Schuur don't let night cool down
'Junkyard' builds a reputation