When it comes to going to the gym, finding the motivation can be difficult. Between busy schedules, crazy workloads and becoming a girl boss, working out doesn’t always make the cut. Plus, as emerging professionals, there’s a pressure to do it all. Whether it’s excelling at work, killing it at the gym or slaying it in fashion, there is always a constant stress to be a “yes woman,” but staying active and healthy is equally as important as being a kick ass collegiette. So we consulted with the experts to see what you can do to stay in shape, without trekking to the gym.
1. Get moving
When you wake up on a cold and rainy day, the last thing you want to do is work out. Staying tucked into bed seems much more ideal than heading off to a spin class, but there are ways to trick yourself into staying active without even stepping foot into a gym. “Working out doesn’t have to be a chore, and it’s definitely not punishment,” says writer and personal trainer, Nia Shanks. Enjoyment is an important part of fitness, so find things that get you excited. Or, if you want to get stronger and discover the incredible things your body can do, you can perform bodyweight exercises.”
Everyone’s motivation to go to the gym varies. For some of us, hitting the treadmill is a great way to stay active, but for those that break out into hives at the mention of the word “gym,” going on a hike with friends might be a better way to get in a great workout while also having fun.
In fact, Peggy Hall, a health and wellness expert, recommends exactly that: have fun. “Do what you enjoy,” she says. “Your own natural personality will draw you to something that will work for you.” She tells us that you should never feel like you’re required to hit the gym to stay fit, and that sometimes it’s actually counterproductive because it deters you from athletic activities in general. If you simply do things you enjoy, like swimming, rock-climbing or playing a pick-up game, then you really aren’t working out. You know what they say, “Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” (okay, this is technically meant for actual work, but it totally applies here too).
2. “Work out” at work
Mini workouts are a great way to stay physically moving without putting on gym clothes. Obviously, you are going to be working on your career and learning, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fit in a few healthy habits along the way. Shanks recommends simple alterations to your lifestyle, like taking the stairs, walking rather than driving or biking to stay active in sedentary work environments. By getting up from your seat every once in a while, you’re at least moving a little bit, which helps to get your blood flowing.
Plus, even the way you sit at work can help you to stay healthy. Hall says that it’s super tempting to slump over your computer all day, but sitting up straight and breathing deeply are actually really helpful ways to keep your blood flowing and improve core strength.
3. Hit a set benchmark
Don’t just ‘like’ tweets or Instagram photos that define #goals; create your own goals. Self-motivation is a great way to set and surpass those goals. Plus, creating a fitness benchmark will ensure you’re always achieving a healthy lifestyle.
Shanks tells us that “Maintaining a fitness level requires less work than building it in the first place.” Basically, finding what makes you feel healthy and active is different for every person, but once you are reaching a healthy level of fitness, you have a goal that you can keep reaching for. Set a benchmark to reach, like 10,000 steps a day, which you can do with the help of a step counter app, or try to get your heart rate up for ten-minute intervals. Hall actually recommends splitting the recommended 30 minutes of exercise into three segments. “Three ten minute [exercises] are better than the 30 minutes all at once because you get benefits for the next couple hours, [like] improved blood flow, improved oxygen, decreased stress and feeling stronger and more clear in your mind,” says Hall.
Regardless of the benchmarks you choose to set—since it varies from person to person—setting goals that you can literally check off will make you that much more motivated to reach them.
4. Get your beauty sleep
This is probably the best news ever—you’re welcome. Sleeping is a great way to burn calories, believe it or not. So even though you might roll your eyes every time someone mentions the words “beauty sleep,” they’re actually on to something. In the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, by Spiegel and colleagues, it was reported that the hormone, leptin, which is responsible for suppressing hunger, was 19% lower for those who are sleep deprived and actually made subjects crave sweet and salty, high-carb foods. Basically, less sleep = more eating.
So how long should you be snoozing to stay healthy? Alanna McGinn, the founder of Good Night Sleep Site, tells us that adults should be getting between seven and eight hours of sleep a night. “The reason why is [because] this allows us to go through the right amount of cycles to get the proper restorative sleep needed,” she says. “We have at least five to six of those sleep cycles a night. The amount of deep sleep that we get restores our body, restores our energy [and] that helps consolidate memories gets longer and longer each cycle.” She also tells us that without sleep, our metabolism slows down, which makes it harder to digest food. Plus, staying up later means snacking more too. So to stay looking fab and fight the flab, snooze away.
5. Netflix and
Snuggling up with Netflix can be the most relaxing way to unwind, but sprawling out in bed with a side of Doritos doesn’t quite translate to a workout. Instead, make your Netflix binges productive by adding an easy and impactful “baby-workout.”
Nia suggests simple bodyweight exercises to stay active like, “squats, lunges, push-ups, [and] inverted rows.” These workouts allow you to use your own body to get an efficient workout without the use of weights. You have no excuse because all you need is yourself to get a great workout! Or, if you want a more structured workout to follow, try a Pinterest workout that combines your fav shows with some exercise moves. So instead of watching Grey’s and swooning when Derek says “it’s a beautiful day to save lives,” you do 15 squats (and still swoon, obviously).
6. Boost that metabolism
Okay. So this is kind of the “cheat” way to stay active because it involves NO exercise whatsoever. The first step your body right with plenty of sleep and water and make conscious food choices. These are the basics, but they work as long as you do them consistently.” Hall also tells us that drinking water is an especially important tip because without staying hydrated you’re body can’t burn fat as effectively. Plus, it can actually help you to eat less. “Don’t drink it right before or after you eat something because you’re going to dilute your taste buds, and it actually makes you hungrier because you rinsed off your taste buds you’re not tasting your food as well,” she says.
Hall also says that many people think that energy drinks like Gatorade are a good replacement for water, but in reality, they’re just adding unnecessary sugar. Instead, she recommends creating your own energy drink by filling a mason jar with water and fruits like lemons, oranges, berries or cucumbers, and letting it sit overnight. The next morning, you have boosted water that’s flavored with the right amount of sweetness and tons of nutrients.
7. Get active for 10-minutes or less
Avoid the crowded gyms and create your own at-home workouts. Shanks’s recommendation for a workout that will have you sweating is easy enough to do in your dorm:
She recommends doing as many reps of these exercises as possible under 10 minutes:
- Reverse lunges – 10-12 each leg
- Push-ups – 10
- Bodyweight squat – 20
- Inverted row – 10
- Plank – 20-30 seconds
Stop making getting active so terrifying, and incorporate it in ways that are fun. Tweaking your daily routine can lead to some great exercises and habits that will keep you way more fit than any treadmill can promise. Find what activities you love, keep on moving and get fit—minus the gym.