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Hoffmann’s Hacks – Make exercise a part of your daily routine

5 minutes to read
Kim Hoffmann

Kim Hoffmann

NASM CES (Corrective Exercise Specialist) and Certified Personal Trainer

Note — The article was checked and updated December 2023.

Most of us are so incredibly busy with our jobs, families and chores, which means that we often forget to move. Especially now, going through this pandemic, people are sitting more than ever. 

We eat more, we move less, and we repeat this almost daily. Then, (most of us) once a week go out for a walk and we think that we rectified all (not so good) things that we did the week before.

Perhaps we should start thinking differently – if we have a cheat meal, why not have a cheat exercise?

It’s time to start (again)

The negative effects of sitting are endless and will only get worse if we don’t change something. Research says that even if we exercise for 30 minutes every day, this can be “undone” if we spend the rest of the day (15.5 hours) seated.[1]

We are meant to move, not sit still for hours on end

Some risks of a sedentary lifestyle are chronic conditions, such as:

  • sarcopenia (loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength)
  • obesity, which brings its own health risks with it, such as type 2 diabetes
  • different types of cancers
  • osteoporosis
  • stroke
  • coronary heart disease.

Other common possible conditions as a result of a sedentary lifestyle[2]:  

  • Accelerated biological ageing/premature death 
  • low cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2max) 
  • metabolic syndrome 
  • insulin resistance 
  • pre-diabetes 
  • non-alcoholic fatty liver disease 
  • peripheral artery disease 
  • hypertension 
  • congestive heart failure 
  • endothelial dysfunction 
  • arterial dyslipidemia (LDL cholesterol)
  • hemostasis
  • deep vein thrombosis 
  • cognitive dysfunction 
  • depression and anxiety 
  • osteoarthritis 
  • bone fractures 
  • rheumatoid arthritis 
  • gestational diabetes
  • preeclampsia 
  • polycystic ovary syndrome 
  • erectile dysfunction 
  • pain 
  • constipation
  • gallbladder disease

Hoffmann’s Hacks

The first law of Hoffmann’s Hacks says:

Not every attraction is good - if you don't move you will attract unwanted kilograms

So, what are some ways to sneak in a bit of exercise without dedicating a whole block of time to it?

1. Ask yourself ‘WHY’

Understanding why you want to exercise more or eat healthier or change anything will help you prioritise this over other activities.

2. Set an alarm

We plan meetings for work, appointments for the doctor or physio. So why not make an appointment for exercise or movement

This doesn’t need to be an entire hour. Just getting up and out of your chair is enough. Do a few stretches and then continue your work. If you want to do a bit more exercise than that, do a 5 minute high intensity workout.

3. Fidget

When you fidget in your chair, you’re actually increasing your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) which is part of your metabolism. The more you fidget and move, the more calories you burn and the more you can increase your metabolism. 

4. Extra movement

Walk around the house when you take a phone call; get a standing desk if you can; use a glass of water instead of a bottle, so you need to get up more often to fill it. 

5. Play with your children

Playing with your children, in whichever form, gets you moving. Whether it’s kicking a ball or taking them to the park, swinging them in the air or playing with legos, you’ll be moving. And your kids will be having fun too. 

6. Wash your car

Washing your car implies moving around, reaching overhead to get to those spots on the roof, squatting down to clean the wheels. 

7. Reorganise your home/office

This one may not happen very often and thus may not sound like a useful tip, but it could be a useful way to get in the right mindset for work. My partner changed jobs recently while in lockdown and with that came a rearrangement of furniture in our office. 

It’s a great way to practise your lifting technique (using your legs, not your back) and just generally moving around.

8. Clean your home

Don’t wait to do it all at once, though. Do it bit by bit. Vacuum cleaning the house burns roughly 80 calories in a 20-minute clean

Every type of chore burns calories, so next time it’s your turn to do the dishes, opt for hand washing them instead of putting them in the dishwasher. 

If you’ve got a bit of a gap between meetings or just want a break, you could fit in a 20-minute dusting session. Or if you have the luxury of planning your day, include a 10-minute washing session.

Outdoor chores: 

  • Shoveling snow: 400-600 calories per hour
  • Heavy yard work (landscaping, moving rocks, hauling dirt): 400-600 calories per hour
  • Raking and bagging leaves: 350-450 calories per hour
  • Gardening: pulling weeds, planting flowers, etc.: 200-400 calories per hour
  • Mowing the lawn: 250-350 calories per hour

Household chores: 

  • Major cleaning (turning mattresses, washing windows, washing the car): 175-250 calories per hour.
  • Moderate house cleaning (laundry loads, mopping and sweeping, vacuuming): 150-200 calories per hour
  • Light house cleaning (dusting, straightening up, taking out the trash): 120-170 calories per hour.
  • Child care: 300-600 calories per hour (depending on how old the kids are and how active they are)

Note: Amount of calories burnt will depend on the weight of the person.

9. Treat yourself to a fitness watch

Or use it as a reward after a workout. Gadgets can help people get and stay motivated by being able to beat the last session or comparing themselves against other people. 

On Strava, for example, you can join a “club” and see how other people did on that same or similar segment of the route. 

10. Start small!

You will get discouraged very quickly if you jump into a 10k run without experience which will leave your body so sore that you won’t be able to walk the next day. Be gentle on your body.

11. Using everyday objects as weights

If you don’t have any weight or bands or things that the exercise videos/workout plans tell you to use, you can always resort to food cans, jugs of milk, bags of flour, or books. 

There are many ways to get creative. You may need to adjust your position a bit or carry the weights differently. But there is no reason as to why you can’t make the workouts harder.

12. Use everyday tasks as a means to exercise

Doing chores can be very mundane and time-consuming. You could hit two birds with one stone by doing a bit of exercise at the same time. Some examples are: 

  • While doing laundry you can do squats or overhead presses with the basket (empty or full) 
  • Wash the dishes instead of filling the dishwasher 
  • Squat while brushing your teeth

Since you already spend a good chunk of your day on the computer or phone, why not make use of the thousands of apps and programs you can do online? 

Some people can’t wait to get off the computer, but if you’re not one of them and you’d like to increase your physical activity, then you could find workouts on Youtube or pay for apps to send you workouts. 

Strava, for example, is free for basic features. You can track how you run, ride or walk and also compare yourself to others. There is also Christ Hemworth’s app, Centr, with a lot of workouts and meal ideas for your specific goals. This one is paid, but they do have a 7-day trial.

14. Exercise while watching TV

Stand up from the couch (squat), do yoga or stretch while you watch your favourite TV show. With all these streaming services, you won’t have commercial ads, but if you watch TV, get some movement in during the break, even if it’s just to get a new drink. 

Or if you have a treadmill or a stationary bike, get on it while watching TV.

15. Find a buddy

Having a friend to do exercise with, go for a walk or do yoga will make it a lot more fun and more difficult to cancel, because you won’t only let yourself down, but them too. 

16. Make it enjoyable for the whole family

Blast some music throughout the house as you get your family involved in chores. Dance your way through the chores together. Or find (seasonal) activities to do as a family, like walking, cycling, swimming, or ice-skating. 

17. Pair exercise with a treat

Listen to your favourite podcast or audiobook while going for a jog. Listen to music while cycling. It’ll make it much more enjoyable! 

18. Do exercise before your day starts

Exercising before your busy day starts means that you don’t need to think about it later on and you may even feel energised about the day ahead. 

The kids may still be asleep, the meetings haven’t started yet, and the best part is that you can forget about one extra thing for the rest of the day!

Kim Hoffmann is a certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist based in Auckland. She also specialises in women’s health and fitness by taking into consideration the menstrual cycle and hormones and implementing them in different workout plans. The workout methods and routines include free weights, suspension straps and boxing, as well as strength training and high intensity.

Kim’s passion is helping people move better and improve their quality of life. She helps men and women of all ages achieve their goals and also offers online classes and consultations. You can see more of Kim at Snatch Fitness.


(1) Hamilton, M.T., Healy, G. N., Dunstan, D. W., Zderic,T.W., and Owen, H. (2008). Too Little Exercise and Too Much Sitting: Inactivity Physiology and the Need for New Recommendations on Sedentary Behavior. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3419586/

(2) Booth, F. W., Roberts, C. K., and Laye, M. J. (2012). Lack of exercise is a major cause of chronic diseases. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23798298/

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