What is an exercise hack and can it really make a difference
A hack can be described as any trick or shortcut that increases the efficiency or effectiveness of something in your life. I like to think of exercise hacks in terms of food. It can be thought of as a snack versus a regular meal.
There are so many opportunities to get small snacks of exercise throughout your day, more than you might imagine. You might ask, why would I want to do that?
Just imagine that you always put off getting gas in your car and now it’s just about empty. You get a call from a friend who needs your help NOW and you barely have any gas in your car to get there and oh yes, it’s late at night.
Your heart rate is racing because you have to get there NOW, but now you have to stop and get gas in your car and waste precious time getting to your friend. This may be a little melodramatic, but just think how much easier it would have been to get to your friend without that added stress of stopping for gas. That is one reason I hate letting my gas tank go below 1/2 tank.
No, I can do this, I have been practicing!
Here’s another great reason that exercise and movement is important. This is from my fitness client, Pam and her story about why exercise is important.
Another illustration of the value of your fitness classes. I was dog sitting for my sister in law’s 80 lb Australian Shepard (thankfully not the 120 lb Bernedoodle Queenie), and he lurched after another dog. Pulled me off my feet and I did a modified 3 point landing on asphalt. Nothing broken, some bumps and bruises, but I got up on my own and walked home once I got my composure. A neighbor who was standing there asked if I needed help getting up, and I told him “No, I can do this, I have been practicing! So thank you for emphasizing these valuable skills!
No time for that “real workout” – Hack It!
What can you do to stay as fit as possible and maintain the regular activities in your life without stressing about going to the gym. If you make a little time (add a hack) now to do a few extra movements, a quick exercise or strength move, you might avoid problems later.
A hack is not a magic bullet, but….
This is not a magic bullet, but another way to add just a little bit more to your day, or another tool for your toolkit. It’s like the penny jar, add a few pennies each day and pretty soon it’s real money.
I like to think of fitness in terms of a chair and its legs. If we want to sit in the chair, we really need all four legs, or the chair loses it stability and we can fall. I believe that these 4 legs or pillars can be thought of as strength, balance, flexibility and endurance.
My favorite hacks
Of course, my two favorites are in my Better Balance and Strength FREE download (I have placed the link below or you can find it under the Free Resources tab). They are:
- One leg standing balance while teeth brushing
- Counter top pushups (great when you are getting your morning coffee)
These two simple hacks provide two of those pillars – strength and balance.
So many opportunities to do squats during the day
I also like doing squats while placing or removing my laundry from the washer and dryer. I have a front end loading washer and dryer, so that helps. I always do a few extra deep squats EVERYTIME I put in a take out laundry. That’s what enables me to climb into my vegetable bed to weed and pick out lettuce from under the winter plastic protector.
I get some extra squat time when I feed the dogs. Instead of reaching over and down, I squat to take out their food and then sit on the floor with them while they eat. Sitting on the floor is great because it makes me get back OFF the floor, which is often challenging for us as we age and a skill we need if we fall. Think of Pam’s story above. That checks the boxes for me for strength and flexibility.
Not to be gross, but you can also do squats getting on and off the toilet – just saying.
Endurance and your chair
Endurance can be improved doing chair sit to stands every time you sit at the kitchen, dining or desk chair. Doing 30 seconds of these as fast as you can will definitely increase your heart rate, not to mention build strong quads and glutes. Another hack is to hover above your chair before you sit down. Just think of it as not wanting to sit on that wet seat.
Arm hacks during TV commercials
Another great hacks is arm work during TV commercials. Use that several minute break to do arm circles, bicep curls (with our without any weight), ankle circles, wrist circles or just plain old isometric work, like squeezing your palms together and hold for the duration of one commercial. Those underarm bat wings will thank you as summer rolls around.
Add a little each day
There are so many things you can do during the day to just give you a little bit more. Think of the chair (strength, balance, flexibility and endurance). What hacks can you introduce in your day. Be sure to follow me on instagram @sandifeaster if you want to see some of my hacks.
A few minutes really do add up
Remember, each of those minutes add up to real time.