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Healthy Outlook: Life hacked — How to work in a workout

Take on 2 to-dos at once and feel the power

Time: that elusive, tricky devil seems to slip away from us at every turn. How could we ever find the time to squeeze in exercise?

Here’s the trick to making it happen: Turn anything into a workout.

No kidding. Take a look at your to-do list. At least a couple of those tasks are surely pliable enough to be aerobic-ized.

You make the rules here — it’s not a set routine, a class at the gym or a strict half-hour on the treadmill. You decide what you need to accomplish and how you can make it happen in a more active way.

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I do feel a need to point out that logic ought to prevail in this, as well — please, no running with scissors; this is not a good way to reorganize your china cabinet; and you should ensure that you won’t be endangering any small children or other creatures that could step into your path.

Also, fair warning: your family members, roommates and whoever else is hanging around your home might laugh at you. You should just laugh right back at them — who’s getting fit like a boss, and who’s just lounging on the couch? Yeah, that’s right.

Here are just a few examples of ways to turn some often boring or inconvenient but necessary tasks into a more physical grind.

• My favorite homemade workout is doing the laundry. Bear with me: this sounds silly, but it can be an excellent endurance exercise.

Sorting: As you separate your clothes for the wash by color, delicacy, bedazzlement, etc., put the baskets at one end of a room or hallway and the piles at the opposite end. Jog back and forth grabbing one item at a time, or a few if you’re in a hurry. Take it up a notch or two by adding squat jumps as you’re grabbing laundry out of the basket. Prolong the challenge by running the sorted clothes back into separate baskets.

Folding: Find a countertop at the right height to serve as a folding table, run in place as you fold clothes one article at a time, then run them to their destination dressers and closets. If you hang your clothes instead, grab a stack of hangers, fluff and hang in one room and run them one at a time to their home closets.

Decluttering. What quicker way to put everything back in its place than by running it there? Tidy up your home in a jiffy. This is an excellent workout for days when you’re expecting your mother-in-law.

Inbox zero. This is perhaps the silliest of my suggestions, but I will admit with almost no embarrassment that I’ve done it. Set a laptop or tablet on a counter where you can see it clearly enough while you’re jogging. For every, say, five emails you clear from your inbox (depending on how deep you’re buried, of course), run a lap around your home.

Going to the grocery store. Although running through the store is generally frowned upon (those killjoys), you can still make a trip more active. Park far away from the door, push your cart through the aisles at a brisk pace and, if you have time to spare, intentionally change up your route through the store so you’re getting in a lot more distance. For instance, dairy to produce to frozen foods to the deli counter — at most stores, that’s quite a bit of walking.

Fulfilling your family TV-watching duties. When the time comes to watch that show you DVR to watch together but you don’t want to drop your goal of working out, that’s fine — you can do both at once. If you have dumbbells handy, grab them and get busy; if not, there are plenty of bodyweight workouts, such as pushups, planks, lunges, squats, tricep dips and many more, that require no equipment.

So, why bother? Why not just skip a workout that day and get other stuff done? Well, it’s a pretty awesome feeling to know you’re crossing items off your agenda as you’re pushing yourself toward better health. Just make some tweaks to make it happen.

Moving into a new apartment recently, I spent a good couple of hours one day lugging boxes from one side of the parking lot to their destination, then sprinting back to grab another box. That was a great combination of cardio and strength training, and it actually made for a fun challenge. It was an insanely busy week and there’s no way I would’ve been able to take the time to go to the gym, so I worked with what I had.

When you find a way to make time work for you, it’s doubly empowering.

About Healthy Outlook

Healthy Outlook is a column written by Journal-World reporter and Health section editor Mackenzie Clark, in hopes of helping readers make their lives a little bit happier, healthier and more active.

Have questions about the world of health and wellness in Lawrence, or a health story idea? Contact Mackenzie:
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