9 easy ways to sneak in more exercise

CorbisCorbisBy Tina Haupert

Over the weekend, my husband and I participated in a 5K road race with our pug, Murphy. Yep, you read that right-our little pug finished 3.1 miles! He's one buff dog!

I enjoyed the event so much, I couldn't help but think about other ways to incorporate fun, easy fitness into my life. I know exercise is essential to maintaining my weight and improving my overall health, but with my busy schedule, it's tough to fit in fitness. Sometimes hitting the gym feels like an impossible task!

I don't want to skip out on my weight loss and fitness goals altogether, so I found a number of easy ways to fit fitness into my everyday life.

Speed walk your errands
Instead of eating lunch at my desk, I lace up my sneakers and do my daily errands on foot during my lunch break. I use my to-do list to map out a walking route, grab my wallet and iPod, and head outside for an hour of heart-pumping activity.

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Sometimes I need to drive to a shopping area first, but then I cruise around on foot checking items off my list. I love that getting my errands and workout out of the way frees up my evening for some serious relaxation!

Play in the park
Instead of meeting friends for Happy Hour after work, we head to the park for a couple of hours of play. We bring a Frisbee or bocce set and play a few rounds together. This way, I can incorporate some activity into my social life-and avoid those cocktail calories!

Stand and flex
When waiting in line at the grocery store or bank (or any other establishment), I flex my abs for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.

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It helps make the time pass, and it's a quick and easy way to work your core without anyone noticing.

Go the long way
You've probably heard this one before, but it really works: Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Find a parking spot far away from your building so you get a little extra walking. If you ride the bus or subway to work, get off a stop before your office and walk the extra distance.

It might take you a little more time to get to your destination, but all of those extra steps really add up!

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Email and call less
When I worked in an office, instead of calling or emailing a coworker, I got up from my desk and walked over to chat with them. Usually, we got a lot more accomplished in a quick in-person meeting, and I burned a few calories walking to their desk.

It might not seem like a lot of activity, but all of those small steps can equal big gains when they're continued all day long.

Nix the shopping cart
If I don't have a huge shopping list, I nix the cart and use two reusable bags to carry my groceries. I throw a bag over each shoulder and walk around the grocery store collecting items. Carrying two heavy bags is a great workout, and, at the same time, I get my grocery shopping done for the week.

Wake up and give me 50
Before I get into the shower in the morning, I do 50 crunches and push-ups on the floor of my bedroom. It takes me only about five minutes to complete, but it sets the tone for my day.

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Plus, if I can't fit in a full workout for the day, at least I did something!

Add 15 minutes to Fido's walk
I walk my dog every morning before work. On the days when I know it'll be tough to fit in a workout, I add an extra 15 minutes to our walk, and I make sure that I get the most bang for my buck by power walking or running those extra steps. And, of course, Murphy loves the extra exercise too!

Be a weekend warrior
It's easier to fit in a workout on the weekend, but not when your household tasks take over most of your free time. Instead of missing out on a workout, I turn these tasks into exercise.

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For instance, I wash the car by hand rather than taking it to the car wash and I mow the lawn with a push mower instead of asking my husband to do it. These tasks sometimes take me more than an hour to complete, but I know I've gotten in some exercise for the day!