Many recipes have downtime in them, so use your time wisely and sneak in a few quick and easy exercises to get in shape in the kitchen while you cook.
Disclaimer: I’m not a fitness expert, please consult with your physician before starting any new workout routine. This is just what works for me.
Two things that I always dread doing, realize it isn’t too bad as I’m doing it, then feel glad I took the time once it’s done: working out and cleaning the house. While there isn’t a lot of house cleaning that can be done in the shorts bursts of time that you have when cooking a meal, there are quite a few quick exercises you can sneak in to try to get in shape while cooking.
There are a lot of recipes that have downtime in them, such as waiting for the water to boil, or the butter to melt, or the oil to heat, or the meal to bake. So instead of just standing around and watching (you know a watched pot never boils, right?) or wasting time playing on your phone, use the time to get in shape.
These seven workouts can be done in basically any kitchen and don’t require any specialized equipment. You can do them all in short bursts using just your body weight as resistance.
Originally Published On: March 13, 2018
Last Updated On: April 17, 2020
Running in Place
Start off with a bit of cardio to get your heart pumping, and your body warmed up. No, we aren’t doing any strenuous exercises, but it’s always good for your muscles to have the time to warm up, so you don’t injure yourself. Anytime you workout to get in shape, you need to do a warmup.
Stand in a good spot in the kitchen where you have a bit of room, and start running in place. The higher you lift your legs, the better the workout it will be. But anything is better than just standing there without moving.
You could also try to do some knee-highs or kick your legs back enough that your feet almost hit your buttocks (maybe a fitness person could tell me what that’s called). No matter what you do, just get yourself moving and get your heart pumping for a bit of extra cardio in the kitchen.
When you are reaching for something on a shelf or in an upper cabinet, do it on one leg while leaning over. Make sure you alternate legs, so you aren’t working one side more than the other. This will help you with your balance and agility as well as tone some of those leg muscles.
Of course, be careful when you are handling heavy or glass objects. If you don’t feel balanced enough to start with, only do this when reaching for the lighter or non-breakable objects. Work your way up to the bigger ones and set it as a goal for yourself.
Don’t forget to do some arm workouts as well! While you have a bit of time, try doing some counter pushups. This is a similar concept to wall pushups only you are using the counter. Place your hands firmly on the edge of the counter with your feet away from the counter. Put your feet as far as you comfortably can, and gradually move your feet further away to increase the difficulty. Once you are ready, lower your upper body towards the counter until you are almost touching, then raise back up and repeat.
Microwave Calf Raises
You can do this exercise anytime, but I always think of it when I have something in the microwave because our microwave is above the stove, so it’s up high. When something is in the microwave, I do a few calf raises while I check on the food in there.
Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and flat on the ground. Slowly lift yourself up to your tiptoes and hold for a few seconds, then lower back down. If you are unsteady on your feet at first, place a hand lightly on the counter to help balance yourself.
Unless your oven is built into the wall, chances are it is down low. So when you have something baking, use it as an opportunity to do a few squats to get in shape while checking on the food. It’s fun to watch the food bake sometimes and see your meal come together.
Stand in front of the oven with your feet about shoulder-width apart or slightly wider and your head and chest upright. Slowly lower down so that your legs are bent to a 90-degree angle (or as low as you can) as if you are sitting in an invisible chair. Make sure to keep your back, chest, and head straight. Then raise back up to a standing position. Again, if you are unstable, start by holding onto a counter and/or not lowering as far, to begin with.
I have two different instances when I do some clean-up lunges. No, I am not cleaning up my method for lunges, although they could probably use some work, I am lunging while I clean. A regular lunge when something spills on the floor, or a side lunge as I clean my work surfaces.
If you need to clean up the floor, grab a rag (or whatever you use to clean) and go into a lunge position to clean. Make sure you follow up with a lunge on the other side to keep things even as well.
When cleaning your work surfaces, instead of moving your arms over the counter use your legs to move your body while keeping your arm still. Go into a side lunge as you are wiping everything down and switch from one side to the other as you clean.
Counter Tricep Dips
Unless you have incredibly tall counters, you should be able to do a bit of a tricep dip at the edge. This is similar to the counter pushups, only facing the opposite direction. Start with your back to the counter and place your hands on the side with fingers facing the same as your head. Place your feet a little ways from the counter (the further they are the more difficult the dip will be) and slowly use your arms to lower your body towards the ground until your arms are at a 90-degree angle. Keep your legs straight through the entire movement.
By following these moves, you can sneak in a bit of exercise while you are cooking meals to try to get in shape. It’s a much better use of the downtime that so many recipes seem to have. Do you do any of these already? What else would you add?