20 ways to stay active with a busy schedule

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If you're working a 9-to-5 job or have kids and family members to look after, exercising may not be a top priority. Trying to schedule some time when you can hit the gym and get in those squats can seem exhausting itself. But there are simple ways to turn your basic day-to-day tasks into some exercise time. Here are some tips you can use to stay active with a busy schedule.

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Do a yoga routine while watching TV

Instead of sitting on your couch while watching Netflix, use that time to keep your body active. Try doing a yoga routine for the duration of your show. Just a 60-minute session can help you burn at least 180 calories.

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Clean

It may not seem like much, but your regular chores like washing the dishes or mopping the floor are a bit of exercise, too. You have to use different muscles in your arms and legs while cleaning the dirtiest places in your home, so sometimes you may not notice that you're burning calories and even breaking a sweat. It's possible to burn 50 or more calories from washing the dishes for 30 minutes, depending on your weight.

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Take the stairs instead of the elevator

If you want to be more active throughout the day, try avoiding elevators. Walking up and down the stairs is a great form of cardio that helps strengthen and tone leg muscles while allowing better blood flow in your legs. If you notice you're falling asleep at your desk, climbing stairs may help keep you awake and increase your heart rate.

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Walk or cycle to destinations

Instead of hopping in the car, try biking or walking from place to place, especially if it's a short distance. Biking is a great form of cardio that will allow you to make it to your destination while still being active.

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Get off a stop early

If you take public transportation to work, get off a stop before your final station. This will allow you to get in some quick cardio before you sit in your chair all day.

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Park your car a few streets away

If you drive, instead of parking in front of your destination, find a parking space a few streets away to get in some extra steps.

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Stand instead of sitting

If you have a job where you sit most of the day, it's easy to forget about keeping good posture or moving once in a while. Stand up and do a little stretch at least once an hour. Many offices offer standing desks as well.

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Take short walks throughout the day

Whether you're working in an office or at home, going for a short walk will keep your body active and is also a great way to avoid the scary effects of stress. Taking walks can give you a chance to get fresh air into your lungs and allow you to clear your mind. If it's too cold to go outside, a simple lap around the office will work.

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Set an alarm to take a break

If you're looking at a computer screen all day, it's best to take a few breaks throughout the day. Set a few alarms for yourself that will alert you to get up, take your eyes off your screen and move around, even if just for a few minutes.

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Walk to coworkers' desks instead of sending an email

Help your body stay awake and active by walking to a coworker's desk to talk with them. Not only are you being active, but you're being social, too - an added bonus.

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Stand up while talking on the phone

If you receive a call on your cell phone, move around and take a short walk while you're chatting. This will also help to elevate your voice because you have better posture standing than when you're sitting down.

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Go out for lunch

Too many times someone can get caught up in work and forget to take breaks or even eat. Schedule a specific lunchtime and find a place away from your desk to eat your meal, whether in a nearby park or your office's cafeteria.

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Walk to the grocery store

If you have a grocery store nearby, leave the car at home and walk to and from the market. Your grocery bags will be like weights as you carry your purchases home. Switch the bags from arm to arm to help strengthen your forearms while you're also getting exercise from walking.

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Do simple exercises while cooking or waiting for food

Sure, stirring uses your arm muscles and you may have to stretch to reach for a bowl in your highest cabinet. But you can also do leg lunges, stretches and squats as your pasta is boiling to keep your body active.

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Stretch once in a while

Simple arm raises, hip twists or leg stretches from your desk chair can keep your body active without making a dent in your schedule.

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Have walk-and-talk meetings

Sometimes sitting in a room and listening to a meeting can be boring and even sleep-inducing. But if it's an informal meeting, try taking your meeting on the go.

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Make a pit stop at the park or mall

Exhaustion from a long day of work can make you want to just fall back into bed and sleep. But on your way home, try making a pit stop at a park or a shopping mall to walk around and get some exercise. You won't have to waste money on a gym membership to get some easy cardio in. Plus, you can get distracted by window shopping or the scenery and forget that you're exercising.

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Track your steps

Whether you have a fitness watch or an app on your phone, making a step goal and trying to achieve it can encourage you to be more active.

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Keep small hand weights or resistance bands at your desk

During a break, you can use hand weights or resistance bands to strengthen your muscles while sitting at your desk.

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Get others involved

It's easy to discourage or self-sabotage when you're exercising by yourself. But if you get your co-workers or friends involved, you can keep each other accountable. You can start a walking club or offer a prize for the person who gets in the most steps for the month. It can spark some friendly competition to push each other to stay active while at work, which may help to prevent health issues in the future. Here are some other daily habits that might keep you from getting sick.

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