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11 real-world ways to find exercise time

The fact that exercise is good for your health is no secret. But in recent years, a growing body of research shows that your level of physical activity is directly linked to your risk for cancer, especially colon, breast, endometrial, prostate and lung cancers. Exercise helps ward off cancer by keeping weight in check, aiding digestion and altering hormone levels in ways that discourage cancer from developing in your cells.

Experts say to aim for an hour of moderate to vigorous activity a day. That may be well and good, but finding that extra hour is a challenge for many busy people. Remember, every little bit helps. Try some of these tips to squeeze exercise into your life without having to invent the 25-hour day:

  1. See the sunrise. Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier than usual and use the time to ride the stationary bike, take a walk, jog or work out to an exercise DVD.
  2. Schedule it. Mark your workout on your calendar as you would any appointment such as business meetings or dental cleanings. Sign up for a class or have a standing date with a workout buddy.
  3. Start a lunch club. Recruit co-workers to join you for lunchtime treks.
  4. Use your commute. Can you walk or bike to work? Why not park one mile away or get off the bus several stops earlier?
  5. Make family time active. Start a tradition of an after-dinner walk or a Saturday afternoon hike or bike ride.
  6. Walk and talk. Instead of meeting for coffee, drinks or lunch, ask friends you see regularly to take a walk with you–a healthier way to catch up.
  7. Take the less convenient path. You’ve heard these before, but do you do them? Take the stairs instead of the elevator (or jog up the escalator); in parking lots, park in the spot farthest from the door.
  8. Use commercial breaks. When you watch television, get in the habit of standing up during every commercial and doing some exercise–jog in place, do a few jumping jacks, calisthenics or stretching exercises.
  9. Turn chores into calorie-burners. Turn on some music and pick up the pace as you do housecleaning, yard work or other chores.
  10. Play with kids. Whether they’re your own or your neighbors’, it’s hard to find a kid who doesn’t love a good game of tag. Walk laps around the field while watching the grandkids’ soccer games.
  11. Pace with a pedometer. This inexpensive gadget tracks the number of steps you take while wearing it. Write down your total steps at bedtime and challenge yourself to increase your number each day.