5 fun ways to sneak in some exercise when you’re short on time

Doing desk exercises is a great way to move your body while working. Supplied image

Doing desk exercises is a great way to move your body while working. Supplied image

Published Feb 20, 2024


Scores of people across the globe lead busy lives and have to juggle many things.

From work to family, social and private lives and other commitments, many feel there are simply not enough hours in a day to do it all.

Healthcare provider Affinity Health shares these sentiments and added that while exercise is vital for a healthy lifestyle, many people often don’t have enough time to adequately move their bodies.

“In our busy lives, finding time for exercise can often feel impossible,” CEO Murray Hewlett believes.

“Maintaining an active lifestyle is essential for our physical and mental well-being.”

But Hewlett believes that you don’t have to spend hours at the gym to achieve this, and that there are plenty of other activities and habits that can contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

1. Desk exercises

For those who spend long hours at a desk, moving your body while working – also known as “deskercise” – is one of the ways to stay active, without leaving your workspace.

He suggested incorporating simple exercises into your day.

This includes seated leg lifts, desk push-ups, or chair squats.

“These exercises can help improve circulation, boost energy levels, and prevent stiffness from sitting for extended periods.”

2. Walking meetings

Hewlett suggests that people consider hosting their meetings outside, as this incorporates a walking element.

“Walking meetings can be a fantastic way to blend work with physical activity.”

He added that not only does it allow you to enjoy the outdoors, but it also promotes exercise while engaging in business discussions.

“It’s a refreshing alternative to traditional conference room meetings and can positively impact productivity and well-being.”

Here are some of Hewlett’s tips to make your walking meetings more productive and enjoyable:

Plan the route:

Before the meeting, decide on a suitable route that aligns with the expected duration and the participants’ comfort level. Hewlett added that to minimise distractions, you should ensure it’s a safe and quiet path.

Dress appropriately:

Wear comfortable shoes and weather-appropriate clothing so that the focus remains on the discussion, rather than discomfort.

Stay organised:

Hewlett recommended bringing necessary materials such as notebooks, digital devices, or recording tools.

Mind your pace:

Maintain a pace that allows easy conversation while walking.

“Avoid walking too fast, which might make it challenging to communicate effectively,” Hewlett said.

Take notes:

Assign someone to jot down key points or record the conversation, if needed.

The Affinity Health CEO believes that this ensures that important ideas and decisions aren’t lost during the meeting.

Researchers have shown that a few minutes of stair climbing can improve cardiovascular health. Picture: Instagram

3. Stair climbing

For quick exercise, take advantage of the stairs if your workplace has them.

Hewlett said that rather than using the lift, opt for the stairs whenever possible. “Climbing stairs can provide an effective lower-body workout and help improve cardiovascular fitness.”

He added that you can also challenge yourself by increasing your pace or taking two steps at a time.

High-intensity interval training has a transformative effect on the body. File image

4. Short workouts

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are an excellent option for those with limited time, Hewlett believes.

“HIIT workouts involve short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief rest periods.”

There are a variety of HIIT workouts online and many of them require minimal to no equipment, making them perfect for squeezing in exercise during a busy day.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi is doing his part when it comes to equal opportunities in household chores. Picture: Instagram

5. Household chores

Hewlett noted that mundane household chores that are done daily can contribute to fitness goals. He said that these include:

Cleaning your home through sweeping or vacuuming

This typically involves repetitive movements that engage your upper body and core muscles. “These activities can help you burn calories, with the potential to burn up to 200 calories per hour, depending on the size of your home.

“It’s a productive way to keep your living space tidy and get some exercise in,” he said.


This is not only therapeutic, but also an excellent way to stay active.

“Planting, weeding and raking can burn around 300 calories per hour.”

Cleaning windows

While this might seem like a hassle, it can be a great arm workout.

“The scrubbing and wiping motion engages your biceps and triceps, helping you burn about 200 calories per hour.”

Sorting, loading and unloading the laundry

This household chore can keep you on your feet and moving around.

“This constant activity can help you burn up to 70 calories in 30 minutes,” Hewlett said.