Quick Cardio Ideas

How to Squeeze In Cardio During the Holidays

A busy schedule is no excuse to skip a workout — you just have to be a little creative. Try some of Self's ways to squeeze a little cardio into your day.

Skipping the 45-minute workout time of year? Understandable. Writing off exercise? Um, no. Instead, separate cardio into short segments for a workout on your busiest days.

"Sometimes separating your cardio into shorter segments allows you to work harder and burn more calories," says LA-based trainer Sara Haley. If you know you'll be foregoing your daily workout between now and the end of the year, challenge yourself to fit in a few of the following creative cardio strategies.

Move It in the Morning

"I always start my morning with a mini-workout to help my body wake up," says trainer Lisa Kinder, creator of the 10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training DVD. Do this five-minute circuit while the coffee's brewing: 20 jumping jacks, followed by 10 alternating lunges and 10 squats; 20 mountain climbers; 20 high knees; and 20 butt kicks.

Walk It Out

Whether it's to let your dog out, get to your car or grab your newspaper, let the first time you step outside for the day become more than just a step. Take a brisk, 3- to 5-minute power walk up the street in one direction, and then back in the other, recommends Kinder. This way, you'll feel like you got a burst of energy before you head back inside.

Watch the Clock

If you're aiming to get in a sculpting session, time yourself, rather than counting reps. Set your watch or phone for 60 seconds, and then see how many reps you can fit in within that time. "You'll find yourself moving quicker and breathing harder by the end of every set," says Haley. You should also try doing three to five exercises back to back, with no rest between each. "Follow these strategies," she says, "and your strength training workout will turn into cardio."

Get More Out of Your Chores

Your to-do list reads like this: Clean the bathroom, do laundry, vacuum, dust. Ugh. The good news? Each of these activities burns calories. The better news is that if you break your chores up smartly, you can burn even more. "I like to do a task in one room such as load the dishwasher, and then hustle to another room to do the next one," says Marc Santa Maria, national group fitness director at Crunch. Make your hustle count by doing a minute of jumping jacks for every five minutes you spend on chores.

Break a Social Media Sweat

Okay, @WhoHasTimeForCardio?!, if you're tweeting, pinning, "liking," and Instagramming up a storm, it's time to start moving. "Every minute that you spend on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest could be spent burning calories and getting your body in tip-top shape," says Haley. So the next time you pick up your phone, simultaneously do lunges, side planks, squats or front kicks. #MultitaskMaster

Read on for more ways to squeeze in cardio.

Shop 'Til You Drop

We usually have one goal when we go to the grocery store: To get in and out as fast as possible. In doing so, however, we're missing a prime cardio shop-portunity. "Take a lap (or three) around the perimeter of your store," says Kinder. "It's a great way to promote healthy food choices, save money by comparing prices and rack up some extra steps for the day. Besides, pushing a cart around for 30 minutes burns 100 to 155 calories." Cha-ching.

Cook Something Up

Sure, you shouldn't stray too far from the kitchen while something's on the stovetop, but that doesn't mean you can't get your heart rate up while you wait for the water to boil, says Haley. Do standing push-ups against your kitchen counter, walking lunges to your living room and back, or alternating side lunges right in front of your oven. You'll work up an appetite and burn anywhere from 20 to 45 calories in five minutes.

Make. It. Work.

On days when you feel like you're drowning at the office, don't leave cardio up to chance. "Set an alarm on your phone at the top of every hour, reminding you to get up and out of your chair for a few minutes," says Kinder. March in place, bringing knees up to hip-level in front of you, do arm circles, or perform a couple of wall sits: Stand with your back against the wall, bend your knees 90 degrees, and hold the position for up to 1 minute.

Take a Minute to Win It

"Make a game of adding as many different one-minute, high-intensity intervals into your strength training session as possible," says Santa Maria. "Before you know it, you'll have snuck in 10 to 20 minutes of quality cardio." Try adding one of the following explosive, plyometric exercises at the end of every set, moving as fast as possible throughout:

Spidey Jump / Jump Lunge / Rotating Squat Hop / Speed Skater

  • Spidey Jump: Stand with feet more than shoulder-width apart, and squat low, touching fingers to floor in front of you. Jump straight up, extending arms overhead, and then land softly, back in squat position. Repeat.
  • Jump Lunge: Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands on hips. Lunge right leg forward, bending both knees 90 degrees. Jump straight up, and switch legs mid-air so that you land with left leg in front; right leg back. Continue alternating sides.
  • Rotating Squat Hop: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, and squat. Hop forward, and then hop 180 degrees to face opposite direction. Hop back to starting position. Repeat for 30 seconds, and then switch direction of your 180-degree hops; repeat.
  • Speed Skater: Stand with feet together, arms by sides. Jump out to right, landing with right knee bent, left leg lifted behind you, and swing arms to left. Repeat to left. Continue alternating sides.

Have a Fit Trip

Sneaking in cardio when you travel is anything but easy, but that doesn't give you an excuse to give up on exercise every time you go somewhere. "Stuck in the airport because of a delayed flight? Don't make it a lazy layover; do terminal laps, but skip the moving sidewalks," says Kinder. You should also pack a resistance band in your carry-on bag, just in case you get a few minutes for side leg lifts, squats with biceps curls, or reverse lunges with triceps kickbacks.

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