For exercise novices wary of jumping into a full-blown fitness program, here are some easy ways to turn your daily down-time into mini-workouts.

Instead Of...

Do This...

Sitting at your desk staring at the screen saver...

Pump iron, or at least an exercise band, while seated. Keep one in your desk drawer, and when your eyes need a computer break, work your muscles.

Standing on the sidelines at your kid's soccer game...

Lace up your sneakers and walk briskly around the field. You'll get a workout, plus you'll get to see the game from all angles. Bonus tip: Wear a pedometer to count how many steps you've taken. Your goal should be 10,000 steps a day (roughly five miles), which is close to the amount of daily physical activity recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Watching television curled up on the couch...

Pick a different exercise for each commercial break and perform it until your show returns. For example, do crunches, then push-ups, then lunges. You could work all your body parts during one episode of The West Wing.

Chatting with co-workers at your desk...

Catch up on the latest scoop while walking around your building. Ask your office buddies to keep pairs of sneakers in their desks, and when you begin to gab, head outside for some exercise.

Reading your favorite magazine or the latest novel on your back porch...

Head to the gym and hop on a stair climber or a stationary bike. Most come equipped with racks that hold reading materials, so you'll be multitasking.

Keeping an eye on your children at the playground...

Join in on the fun. Round up a game of tag or kickball and be sure to participate. You'll have fun burning some calories, and your kids will think you're the coolest parent at the park.

Sitting in traffic during rush hour after a long day at the office...

Join a health club near your workplace and take an aerobics class until traffic cools down. Be sure to keep your gym bag in your car so you never have an excuse to forgo the workout.


­K.R.