A girl in workout wear sitting on the couch drinking soda, eating snacks and watching TV.

Cardio for the Couch Potato

Simple ways to add cardio into your life

Some people like working out at an intensity where it feels as though their heart may pound out of their chest - others don’t. If you’re in the camp that decidedly doesn’t like high-intensity cardio, don’t fret! There are surprisingly simple ways to work it into your everyday routine, and it’s important that you do. If you’re looking for a defined body (think six-pack) you can do all the crunches you want but you’re never going to get cut abs with fat covering those muscles, no matter how much you build them up. You must add cardio to your strength training!

TV Workout
Next time there’s a commercial break, do a circuit where you do 15-30 seconds of jumping jacks, mountain climbers, pushups (on your knees if need be), and jump squats - taking as little rest between each exercise as possible.

Try using the stairs more often instead of going for the elevator. Even taking a few extra trips up and down when doing laundry or other household chores is a great addition to your cardio routine.

Get Your Little Ones Involved
Really, anything that raises your heart rate counts as cardio. Try getting your kids or your dog involved with a game of catch to get your heart going.

Jump Rope
Always keep a jump rope close by - even when you travel. If you feel out of breath on the first go, try shortening your rounds until your body gets used to the workout.

Wear a Pedometer
On a lot of cellphones, you can download an app to turn it into a pedometer - if your phone doesn’t already have it preinstalled. If that doesn’t work, pick one up at your local sporting goods store. Watching the number of steps you take might really motivate you. (If you go upstairs, some apps even give you bonus points!)

Conference Call Workout
Anytime you have a conference call scheduled at work that doesn’t require note taking, try taking the call on the run (or power walk) with a wireless headset.

Park the Car
Try parking your car in the driveway and walking to work. If that’s too far, get a bike. If that’s too far, drive halfway and use your bike for the second half. On the way home from work, ride your bike halfway and then drive the second half.

Plank Challenge
Enter a plank challenge on any social media site to build a stronger core. There aren’t a lot of things easier than moving from the couch to the floor, so wait for that commercial break and get started.

Set a Timer
If you’re stuck in an office or at home all day, typing away on your computer, try setting a timer to remind you to get up and move every 50 minutes or so. You can sneak in some chair exercises like tricep dips and leg lifts too, if you’re working with a stable chair.

Intramural Sports
Not everyone likes going to gyms or fitness classes. If you happen to dislike them, try joining a causal sports team or even starting one of your own with some friends to get yourselves moving. If you exercise with your friends, you can make it an event you might actually look forward to.

If you’re just too busy to join a sports team or go to the gym, try making exercise a part of your daily routine. Do some squats in the bathroom stall or ab crunches while waiting for your toe nails to dry.

Do Isometrics
Just bringing circulation to an area may help. Low level, prolonged muscle contraction may bring energy to an area and wake it up.

Any time you have a few minutes to spare, do a two-step. Two steps forward, squat down, two steps back, squat again. See how many you can do until you get tired. Aim to do more and more every time - just be careful not to overexert yourself.