Seven (Plus!) Quick Physical Activity Ideas You Can Do Right Now

Even though I know it makes me feel good, and even though I have an entire degree in the subject, exercise is still one of those things that I struggle to integrate into my actual, legitimate, everyday life—like one does brushing their teeth. I just sat down to finish inventorying my “exercise streaks” (which aren’t very streaky) for the last 22 days on this chart, and while in some ways I’ve done better than I thought in the last 3 weeks, in others, I’ve fallen short.
Case in point: the 6-day streak I cannot identify ANY purposeful physical activity. I know I was working a lot then, but come on, self!

Let’s be honest. It’s not that hard to get 5 or 10 minutes in. Often, it even leads to more. And, the science is with us here: 10-minute bursts of physical activity are all it takes to accrue the health benefits of exercise (even if not the fitness benefits). Today it’s raining outside and—if only to keep my streak alive—I went up and down our two sets of stairs for 5 minutes. (Also, my goodness, that is not easy.)

No equipment, no problem.

When brainstorming physical activity you can do right now, my thought process was just that right now. No equipment, no pressure, no problem.

  1. Stairs. Come on, you know I was going to start here! A no-frills workout that gets your heart pumping and is pretty quick at burning calories if you’re into that sort of thing. (Seriously, I popped this into Fitbit, and 5 minutes of walking up stairs burned about 42 calories; about the same as I burned doing 15 minutes of archery yesterday!)
  2. A quick walk. Whether you’ve got some cubicles to do a few laps around, or hit the streets, it’s rarely difficult to find somewhere to walk for a few minutes!
  3. Dance. Got time to listen to your favorite song? Then you have time to get grooving and get active at the same time. Though, let’s be honest, this one’s not quite as easy to do in a traditional workplace!
  4. Use the floor. All those classic calisthenics can be done without equipment: push-ups, planks (my favorite!), sit-ups/curl-ups, jumping jacks, and of course, yoga (to name just a few!) can all be done with only your body and the floor.
  5. Use the wall. In grade 12 math, if you were late, you got sent to “sit on the wall”—the duration of wall sitting, or sitting in an "invisible chair," increased as each month ticked by! Other options using the wall: push-ups, glute bridges, and handstands if you’re fancy. (More here.)
  6. Park farther away or get off the bus earlier. If you’re looking to sneak in 5 or 10 extra minutes of activity, get off the bus a few stops earlier, or park farther away from your destination.
  7. Minimal equipment exercises. Okay, so a chair is barely “equipment”, and I presume you’re sitting or lying down somewhere reading this! If you’ve got a chair, googling “chair exercises” will find you a plethora of exercises you can do seated.

Some other equipment-dependent ideas: hop on your stationary bike, elliptical, or stair-climber; jump rope, use resistance bands or a yoga ball.

For all of these, you don’t have to spend a lot of time at it—just 10ish minutes (or more or less—it’s all good!) will help you gain the health benefits of exercise 1, such as lower blood pressure, better-managed blood glucose, decreased risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers 2

It can be tough some days with asthma to get exercise in—if the weather isn’t conducive to good breathing, if it’s too hot or cold outside, or if it's generally just not a great asthma day. However, I often feel better (or at least not worse!) if I do even just a little something. Know your limits and don’t push it when you really shouldn’t be doing too much, but, if you’re just being lazy (like I often am!) well, that’s the ideal time to push yourself and clock in even just a few minutes of activity!

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