Does life get in the way of your daily run? If you have a hectic lifestyle, chances are the run gets squeezed out sometimes, and that can be very frustrating when you’re trying to keep fit and healthy. But fortunately, according to trainer Walter Keating Jr., there are alternatives to running that take up less time, as you’ll see below. They may not be your ideal choices, but they’ll be handy as standbys, and like running, they’re all cost-free.

#1. Skipping

Skipping with a rope

Skipping with a rope is a strenuous activity, and the more you speed up, the harder you’ll work your heart, lungs, and limbs. If you don’t have a fitness skipping rope, it may be worth investing in one. There’s a wide price range, from about four dollars to twenty-five or more, but you’ll find plenty of quality ropes at around the halfway mark. Alternatively, you could make one from a washing line cord or other long, robust rope. One of the great bonuses of skipping is that you can start and stop at a moment’s notice, fitting the exercise around your other commitments. With short bouts at a time, you’ll have no need to change in and out of your workout gear, saving you extra time.

#2. Climbing stairs

If you have access to a flight of stairs or even a single step, why not use this as your fitness vehicle as a stopgap? It may not be as fun or refreshing as running, but a step or staircase can prove very handy for intense, whole-body exercise at times. As with skipping, short sessions are unlikely to get you too sweaty, so you can avoid the time-consuming business of changing out of your day clothes, showering, and changing back again. You might run up and down the stairs, ten times every hour, for instance, staying fresh enough to carry on with your other activities in between.

#3. Doing floor exercises between tasks

Place a gym mat or other spongy floor covering in a convenient place for quick exercise sessions. You can tuck it away out of sight when not in use, then put it to use again in an instant. If you enjoy gymnastics, you’ll probably choose headstands, cartwheels, and other acrobatic feats for your exercise schedule. Otherwise, press-ups, sit-ups, and jumps will provide all the exercise you need if you do them to your best ability.

#4. Walking or cycling to work

cycling to work

If you know in advance that you’ll have no time for your evening run, change your routine around and do a morning one instead. If that’s not feasible either, cut your use of transport for that day, walking or cycling to your destinations where possible if you have to drive to work, for instance, park at a distance from the premises and walk or jog the last stretch. You’ll need to do the same in reverse at the end of the day. This type of arrangement could prove a good compromise, taking up a little time but not too much.

#5. Keeping on your toes through the day

For another occasional alternative to running, try staying on your feet all day. If you work at a desk, build a pile of books or box files on it, up to a suitable level for standing at. If possible, remain on your feet at social events and work meetings. You can even watch television comfortably on your feet if you stand a few paces back. You’ll naturally feel inclined to move around and stretch your legs when standing for long periods, so make the most of this restlessness. Extend your fidgets into brisk walks whenever possible, even if just around the room. With constant pottering all day, you’ll be well exercised by nightfall.

#6. Keep an eye out for extras.

These simple suggestions may inspire others for you, relevant to your particular circumstances. For instance, if you have a tree, low wall, or gate available to climb, you can tone up your muscles that way. Perhaps you have access to a trampoline or other workout equipment and can use it for short sessions during the day. Alternatively, cancel all exercise on your busiest days, then do two runs, morning and evening, the day after.

With all these alternative options, you can enjoy your bustling life to the fullest without worrying about fitting in your daily run. Keep up the routine when you can do so comfortably, but resort to alternatives when the need arises. Stress management is as important as exercise, and with this arrangement, you can keep a grip on both.

About Walter Keating Jr.

Walter Keating Jr. is a Toronto-based fitness coach specializing in triathlon coaching and corrective exercise training. He graduated from the Fitness and Lifestyle Management Program at George Brown College and immediately started his professional career. Mr. Keating has worked as an endurance coach, personal trainer, spinning instructor, and corrective exercise trainer.