10 easy ways to squeeze in Kegel exercises

Shhh. She's doing them right now.Shhh. She's doing them right now.At this point, most of us know we should be doing Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor, that hammock of muscles inside our bodies that cradle the pelvic organs. Strengthening the pelvic floor helps prevent bladder leaks, can make childbirth easier, helps guard against vaginal and uterine prolapse in menopause, and may even give your sex life a boost.

Even though all those benefits sound great or even necessary, it doesn't mean we are putting those muscles to work. Here are ten ways to tone up down there without anyone ever knowing you're getting in an important workout.

It's simple to get started: Of course, you will want to consult with your doctor about the best Kegel plan for your body and health. Kegel exercises may be challenging if you've never or rarely done them, but the premise is simple. Squeeze the pelvic muscles for a slow count of three. Then relax the muscles for another count of three. Try to do eight repetitions, working your way up to 10 or 15 in a row. You can also do an "elevator" method or mini-set (check out instructions here).

1. When you're on a conference call. Sitting for long periods of time -- whether at your desk, on your couch, or in your car -- has been shown to pose a serious health risk. Researchers suggest that we fight back against the danger of being seated all those hours a day by utilizing our muscles more often. Sure, that can mean walking around the block or doing squats. But it can include using the time you have to stay planted in your chair to do Kegels. Plus, think how much more entertaining those long, boring, or eye-rolling conference calls could be if you're secretly doing a little squeezing the whole time.

2. On your commute. Putting the phone down and shifting your focus away from all of the irritating drivers on the road will serve you (and the other people in your car and on the streets) well. Putting on some music and Kegel-ing to the beat will make all that time in car productive, too. Make it a routine to do a quick set or two at every stop light to and from work or school pick-up and drop-off every day.

3. While you're paying your bills online. If you're already doing a daily pelvic floor-strengthening routine, it's time for you to move on to graduate-level Kegel practice you can do in just five minutes a week. Add a few sets whenever you make online purchases or pay bills online. If that seems like a stretch, just consider that you are making an investment in your financial well-being at the same time you are investing in your health.

4. During your kid's karate class. Of course, your eyes are glued on your little one while they practice martial arts, learn how to dribble a soccer ball, or impersonate Picasso in an after-school or weekend kiddie activity. Still, that hour can go by very slowly. Do rounds of Kegels while you're on the sidelines, stuck in a studio, or waiting outside in your minivan. No one will suspect just how constructively you will be while you're quietlysitting there.

5. While you're standing in line at the grocery store. Waiting for the lady in front of you who is taking forever to write a check while a small child screams from the cart behind you and candy bars call from the stands next to you can make checking out of a grocery store one of the worst of the necessary evils. Tune it all out by grabbing an awful/fabulous celebrity gossip magazine and doing a set of Kegels every time you flip a page, spot the word "cellulite", or see a $7,000 blouse in the "Styles for Less" section.

6. When you're peeing. If you have a full bladder, it's the perfect opportunity to put your potty time to use with some Kegel exercises. Use the "faucet" technique by releasing some urine then assertively ceasing the flow. Do this stop-and-start method for several repetitions or as a check-in to see how much control you have over the muscles in play.

7. While you're having sex (alone or with a partner). Kegels are said to have the phenomenal benefit of heightening your awareness of your body, increasing blood flow and arousal, and making for more intense orgasms during sex. Sex is also a terrific opportunity to clench your muscles, which will give your partner an opportunity to whisper some biofeedback. Don't have a partner? Worry not. You can still practice Kegels when you practice solo.

8. In the shower. Incorporating pelvic floor exercises into something you do every day or nearly every day is a great way to turn something you know is a good idea into a habit. Make a new rule for yourself -- that you will do Kegels while you shampoo, rinse, and repeat or that you will do reps whenever you're brushing and flossing your teeth.

9. During commercial breaks. How many times have you dug into a big bag of something so not healthy while you've been watching "The Biggest Loser" or have mindlessly zoned out during a commercial marathon in the middle of "The City"? Break that cycle by using the two minute breaks to do your Kegels. And if you can walk and scoop ice cream while you're exercising your pelvic muscles, you really deserve to eat the snack.

10. While you're doing plank pose. In an effort to increase my core strength and recover from a running injury, I've been doing a sequence of planks. My sports doc recommended that I take it up a notch by doing Kegels for the 30 seconds I hold each pose. I feel like I'm doubling my workout effort in activating all those muscles and it also helps take my mind off of how challenging the last few are.

I fully expect that you've already gotten started with your Kegels while you've been reading. But are there other places you can think of to sneak in a quick set?

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