If You Don't Want to Exercise Today, Do This Instead
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Health & Fitness

5 Ways to Get Fit Without Exercise

Your guide to staying in shape while skipping the gym

Man at work sitting on fitness ball
Getty Images

As a personal trainer, I see a lot of clients who simply don’t want to exercise. They hate moving around. Others are repulsed by sweating. The thought of moisture on their skin causes them great discomfort. Yet they still want to look and feel great. I ask them, “As you get older, how do you expect to be in a sound physical condition without exercise?” Many have responded, “That’s why I’m here to see you.”

Of course, our bodies need exercise. But on days when you absolutely can’t — or, more likely, just don’t want to — hit the gym, here are my top five things to do to stay strong and limber without breaking a sweat.  

Vacuum your belly

Instead of doing crunches to build abdominal power, simply suck in your belly, something called “stomach vacuuming.” You don’t have to lay down on the floor and get dirty because this is an exercise you can do on your feet. Simply stand straight, exhale, suck your belly in and hold for 20 to 30 seconds (or as long as you can.) Do this in reps of 3 to 5. Feel as though you’re trying to press your belly button back to your spine. Some people like to hold their breath while doing it, which is fine if you don’t feel dizzy. This exercise works your transverse abdominis — the muscles that keep your belly flat — in a way that crunches do not.   

Clench those glutes

Instead of doing squats and aggravating any knee or hip issues you may have, you can build a stronger, less saggy butt by clenching those butt cheeks. Clenching works the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus — a twerking trifecta. Stand, clench as tight as possible and hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Start with reps of 3 to 5, gradually adding to that over time. As you’re working your glutes, clench your abs also. By doing so you will also strengthen your lower back because your glutes and abs help pull your pelvis into a powerful position.

Circle your arms

If shoulder power is your goal, you don’t need to press weights to develop it. Extend your arms out to the side and make 10 small forward circles with them. Then make 10 small backward circles. You will probably feel a slight muscle burn after that small amount, but try doing three to five sets forward and backward. This will work your deltoids and rotator cuff muscles. Add in larger circles to increase your range of motion.

Take the stairs

If you live or work in a building with a staircase, take advantage of it. You may not feel like hiking or jogging, but your quads still need to be worked. It’s amazing how walking just a couple flights of stairs can quickly change your perspective about whether you need to exercise your legs. This will help you to develop power and stamina over the long run.

Sit straight up in a chair

In the gym, there are all types of exercises to help promote good posture, like dead lifts, but simply sitting straight up in a chair would help tremendously. If you work sitting all day, odds are you’re slumping over. That puts your spine in an awkward position and leads to back and neck problems. Focus on sitting upright or, if you are able, sit on a stability ball during the day. That will help to keep your back straight up and correct postural problems.

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