Add more activity to your day without changing your routine

by Kaiser Permanente |
Person sitting on living room floor stretching

This may come as no surprise, but staying active can help both your physical and mental health. It can improve your heart health, strengthen muscles and bones, boost your mood, and reduce stress. Based on current guidelines, you should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day, or 150 minutes of exercise a week. But finding time to fit workouts into your daily routine can be difficult.

Simple at-home exercises

One creative way to stay active throughout the day is by adding exercises to your household tasks.

Recent studies have found that short bursts of moderate to vigorous exercise can have the same benefits as longer workouts. And even moderate exercise has been shown to give similar effects as more intense activity. A study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that 30 minutes a day of even gentle activity — including light household chores — helped lower the risk of death in older women by 12%.*

Here are 5 simple exercises you can combine with everyday tasks. Not only will you build strength and burn calories, but you’ll be also ticking off a household task at the same time.

Note: There’s no need to wear workout clothes but be sure to wear nonslip shoes.

When you wash dishes, do calf raises.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Slowly lift your heels and rise onto your tiptoes, then slowly lower back down.
  • Repeat 12 to 15 times.
  • Work up to 3 sets.

Benefit: Builds lower leg strength and increases ankle flexibility.

As you empty the dishwasher, do squats.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Sit back and down like you’re sitting in an imaginary chair.
  • Keep your knees over your ankles and your weight in your heels.
  • Lower yourself down until your thighs are as parallel to the floor as possible.
  • Keep your stomach pulled in as you push through your heels to straighten back up.
  • Start with 3 sets of 10.

Benefit: Builds leg and core strength and promotes better balance.

Put a lunge into your vacuum routine.

  • Stand straight with a vacuum (or even a mop) in front of you.
  • As you push the vacuum, step forward with one leg until it reaches a 90-degree angle, bending at the knee.
  • At the same time, bring your thigh parallel to the ground.
  • When you pull the vacuum back, tighten your abs and torso as you return to a standing position.
  • Repeat, alternating legs, for 5 to 8 reps.

Benefit: Strengthens your lower body, elevates heart rate, and builds abdominal muscles.

Do counter pushups while wiping the counter.

  • Face the countertop and place your hands on the edge, about shoulder-width apart.
  • Step your feet back about 2 steps and slightly lift your heels, so your body forms a plank at an angle to the counter.
  • Lower your chest toward the counter while keeping your elbows in.
  • Press your body back to your starting position.
  • Do sets of 3 to 5 reps, building up to sets of 8 to 12 reps, and resting in between sets.

Benefit: Strengthens the chest, shoulders, and abdominal muscles.

Briskly sweep the floor for a cardio burst.

  • Grab a broom and put it to work, as quickly as you can, for 1 minute.
  • Sweep at a normal pace for the next 2 minutes.
  • Repeat the 3-minute combination 5 times.

Benefit: Short, intense intervals of cardiovascular exercise help burn calories and increase aerobic capacity.

Stay healthy with our wellness resources

Check out our broad range of mental, social, and physical wellness guides to help you reach your health goals.

Learn more

* Nicholas Bakalar, "Even Light Activity May Increase Your Chances of Living Longer," New York Times, November 16, 2017.