Ten Top Hidden Fitness Tricks

1. Take the Stairs

It's not the first time you've heard it — but it really does works! Believe it or not, walking up 2 flights of stairs (approximately 3-5 minutes) can burn as many as 50 calories for someone who weighs 150lbs.

Plus, walking up the stairs works your thighs and hips, and tones your calves and buttocks. Keep your back straight with your neck and head aligned and your abdominals pulled in (be sure to breathe). Doing all this will help strengthen your abdominals and your lower back.

2. Work Your Abs in the Car

Many of us spend a great deal of time each day in our cars, or on public transportation. Take advantage of all that time spent sitting by working your abdominal muscles. Pulling in your abdominal muscles towards your back and sitting with a straight posture can strengthen your abs and your back.

Pull in your abdominal muscles, count to ten, and then slowly release. This is a simple exercise that doesn't take much concentration and is easy to do while sitting in traffic or at a red light. Remember to keep breathing. Your muscles need oxygen to perform.

3. Take Advantage of Commercials

Do some kind of exercise during TV commercials. The average 30 minute program has at least two breaks for commercials. Each break may last three minutes. That's 6 minutes of prime exercise time during one show. Get up and dance, do jumping jacks or just walk in place.

You may even find that exercising in front of the TV is such a wonderful distraction, and continue past the commercials and actually exercise when the TV returns to your show.

4. Park Far Away

Another simple trick for getting in some exercise each day is to park far from the entrance of any place you drive to. Two important things to remember are:

  • Only do this in safe places and/or not at night.
  • If your loved one is with you, keep in mind his or her mobility or health concerns before parking far away.

An extra 50 yards or so each way can really add up throughout your day. Parking a few rows back at the office parking lot, the grocery store, the local pharmacy, and even the post office can make a huge difference. Also keep in mind – do you really need that cart? If you have a few bags from a store, you can carry it all the way back to your car. Now you're getting in some weight training as well as cardiovascular exercise.

5. Stretch at your Desk

Stretching is exercise too. Stretching promotes flexibility which can help us perform daily activities with less risk of injury. Stretching can help keep our muscles toned and limber.

At work, stretching helps us take much-needed breaks every hour or so, and it also helps prevent stiffness in our upper backs, lower backs, and shoulders. Try a few shoulder raises or clasp your hands together with your palms facing your face, then stretching your arms as far as you can forward, then reverse your hands so that your palms face away from your body. You can perform a similar movement with your arms raised directly above your head.

You can also flex and point your feet while working. You can also try these chair exercises while waiting at an appointment or while you're at home relaxing.

6. Stand & Squeeze

Washing the dishes or stirring pasta in the pot both provide excellent opportunities to perform for what I call "the butt squeeze." While standing in front of the sink or stove, contract all those muscles in your butt, squeeze them, now squeeze some more, and hold for as long as you can. Repeat that process. You can even do this move while chatting on the phone. I recommend doing this in the privacy of your own home, although my trained fitness eye has seen the butt-squeeze in action at the movie theater line and waiting for the subway. If you're modest, however, do your butt-squeezing in private.

7. Lunge Around

Why walk when you can lunge? Lunging strengthens your thighs, butt, hips, abdominals, and back. The key to a good lunge is to slowly lift one knee up towards your chest, kick the foot and leg out, slowly lower your leg down into a bent position, and remain like this for a few seconds. Make sure your knees are parallel with your ankles and that the pressure is in your thighs and legs—not on the knee. Now, slowly lift up and raise the other leg to walk forward.

Lunging is a fantastic around-the-house activity. As few as 5 lunges per leg each day can make a difference in your strength and tone of each leg, your hips, and your buttocks

8. Walk Quickly

Walking quickly burns more calories than meandering, and it also helps you to work your arms (a pumping motion helps you gain spend). Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, because it is low-impact on your joints, but it is also weight-bearing (which helps prevent bone loss, and actually helps develop bone matter).

9. Clean the House

Cleaning the bathroom for an hour for someone 150lbs burns almost 250 calories! Taking care of a child (feeding and dressing) burns nearly that amount, and vacuuming or pushing a manual lawnmower burns up to 300 calories an hour.

10. Buy an Exercise Mat

Buying a durable exercise mat at your local pharmacy may be a good investment. Having a simple exercise mat nearby will encourage you to do simple stretching or floor-based exercises throughout the day. Remember, every minute counts.