12 ways to strengthen your body without working out
More important and more successful than adding elements to your workout routine is the process of integrating posture, mobility, and strength work into your everyday life. You can work on many of these skills all day, every day.
Most of the stretches and exercises can be integrated into your everyday life outside of your regular workouts. Here are a few suggestions.
Balance on one foot when brushing your teeth
One of the most common suggestions seems almost too easy. This time is already scheduled and you likely don’t need the mind space to focus on the act of brushing.
Balance on one foot while putting on your socks and shoes
Don’t sit. Stand and balance on one leg while you reach for and pull on your sock, then your shoe. Stay balanced while you tie the laces. Then switch feet and repeat. Alternate which foot you start with, so that each day you’re balancing barefoot on a different side.
Do glute exercises as part of your morning coffee or tea routine
When I bought a hand-crank coffee grinder a few years ago, I started doing air squats during the time it took me to grind the beans. Now I can finish 15 to 20 squats while cranking enough for an espresso. It was the first time I was ever that consistent, and it made a huge difference in my glute strength and activation. Now I can’t grind without doing squats. It’s part of the same action in my mind. Sit tall while driving Even though you are driving, you can work on posture by sitting as tall as you can: Bring your chest and shoulders up, tighten your abs, and reduce the curve of your spine. Pull your head back and high. Set your rearview mirror for this height — every time you slouch, it will remind you by being out of line.
Pull your shoulders back and raise your head high when you see a certain colour or walk through a doorway
Athletes as excellent as world-champion marathoner Mark Plaatjes and Olympic medalist Deena Kastor use such mnemonic devices. Do ab contractions while driving When you get bored on a long drive, try contracting your TA muscle (the inner abdominal one between your hip bones) and holding it tight as long as you can, timing it with the dashboard clock.
Play with your balance and hip proprioception while standing in line at the coffee shop
Or when you are waiting for the subway, standing in line to board a plane, or waiting to order a sandwich. Essentially, any time you are standing, think about rotating your hips so they aren’t spilling out the front and getting your balance over your feet, not locked back on the heel. Do it during the national anthem at your kid’s Little League or basketball game. While you’re at it, stay standing during the game if you can find an unobtrusive place, keeping good posture for as long as you can.
Cue your glute activation when walking the dog
Any time you’re walking you can consciously activate your glutes. Get tall and clench your butt on each side with each stride, pushing each leg back with a slightly exaggerated motion and landing beneath you, not reaching out in front.
Do hip extension stretches while working on your computer
Just push the chair to the side and kneel on one knee in front of your desk. Get your hip rotated and hold it while you check email. Five minutes per side goes quickly during the workday. You can do it 2 or 3 times: in the morning, after lunch, and during your final few, last-check minutes of the day.
Do a standing hip stretch while on a conference call
Lift one leg onto your chair, make yourself tall, and push forward on the supporting hip. No one can see you, and it doesn’t require heavy breathing. Or balance on alternating legs — just make sure you don’t lose your balance, fall, and make a crash.
Do stretches, bridges, or foot strengthening while watching TV or reading in the evening
It’s private, it’s downtime physically — you can do just about anything you want — just get your butt off the couch. Squat whenever you’d usually bend Rather than bending down from the waist, stick your butt out and lower into a squat when you’re weeding the garden or petting your dog. Be careful to maintain good form, with your knees never extending in front of your toes. Your knees should not hurt and you should not force a squat.
Any time you’re walking, you can consciously activate your glutes.