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Most of us think big when it comes to exercise (hello circuit training, cardio sweat sessions and long jogs). But thinking small, or going for mini bursts of movement throughout the day, can also help you max your metabolism. “When people seize every opportunity to move between workouts, they enjoy substantial fitness gains and burn more kilojoules, even when sleeping,” says Michelle Bridges. So get creative and tone up with out even raising a big sweat:

Wall sit while moisturising

With your back against the wall and legs bent in a squat, you can do simple tasks like buttoning a shirt, reading the morning news or brushing your hair. “I like to wall squat when I brush my teeth morning and night,” Bridges says. “It’s a great way to work out the muscles in my core, glutes in my butt and quadriceps in my thighs.” 

Star jump while  stirring dinner

Waiting for the broccoli to steam or kettle to boil? Squeeze in something active. While you heat food in the microwave, do bench presses and while you unpack the dishwasher, add a lunge or squat every time you remove a plate or cup. “When you’re slicing and dicing food, repeatedly clench the muscles in your butt and hold them for as long as you can,” says Bridges. “Do this every night and your bottom will look more trim and toned.”

Polish after car washing

“Car washing is a fantastic workout because it involves squatting, stretching and toning your triceps and biceps while using your back and core muscles,” Bridges explains. Burn extra kilojoules by wiping down the duco then giving your car a thorough polish as well. 

Squat to smell the roses

“Gardening is a great fitness booster because you’re constantly getting up and down, stretching your torso and arms and engaging in weight-bearing exercise such as lifting a bag of fertiliser or pushing a wheelbarrow,” Bridges explains. “Set yourself the added challenge of not putting your knees down and weeding or planting in a squat for a set period, whether for 10 minutes or more.”

Activate during ad breaks

Those pesky ads on TV are actually your cue to get off the couch. “During each break engage in a different activity such as tricep dips, squats, push-ups, jumping on the spot or fast skipping,” Bridges suggests. Binging on a Netflix series? Then set your own activity breaks using an alarm on your watch or phone.

Treat your desk as a mini-gym

Sitting for work is no excuse for skimping on incidental activity. And you don’t  even have to leave your chair! Bridges suggests you push back from your desk and repeat the following 10 times:
• Lift up one bent knee then the other
• Lift one straight leg out in front of you then the other
• Lift up both legs together in front of you and lower
• Pull in your ab muscles for a count of 10
• Facing your desk, hold onto the edge and rotate from side to side. “This simple move is great for toning your waist and thighs,” Bridges explains.  

© Prevention Australia