23 Tips for a Truly Restorative, Stress-Free Weekend

Reclaim your weekend with these effortless tips that will keep you fit and happy on your days off.

Keep an activity log

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Write down everything you do this weekend and then review it Sunday night. You’ll probably find you spend more time on duties like cleaning, working, and running errands than you realized. Figure out what you can cut down on to make more time for activities that are fun and fulfilling.

Avoid sleeping in

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Snoozing until noon cuts into the time you thought you’d spend working out or making plans with loved ones. Plus, it throws off your body’s internal clock, meaning you won’t sleep as well during the week. Try sticking to the same schedule that you do during the week for more (refreshed, energetic) time. Here are smart tips on how to be a morning person.

Take a morning stroll

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Taking a walk as soon as you wake up—even before coffee and brunch—gets your workout out of the way. You’ll come back feeling energized and empowered to tackle the rest of your day. Here's how you can lose weight walking.

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Get up at least once an hour

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Sitting hours on end five days a week is bad enough—when you start bringing work home for the weekend, health problems from staying sedentary get even worse. If you need to spend time hunkered in front of your computer, spend 10 minutes every hour doing equipment-free exercises like lunges, push-ups, or jumping jacks. It won’t cut into too much work time, but could add up to more than an hour's worth of exercise by the end of the day. Here are more ways to recover from a day of sitting.

Commit one day to fun

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If you do need to do work or run errands, get all your tasks done in one day instead of spreading them throughout both Saturday and Sunday. Keep the other day free for a long hike, water park visit, or backyard game tournament.

Get more done during the week

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Instead of saving chores for your free time during the weekends, tackle those tasks midweek. During the time you’d normally spend vegging out on the couch after work, take a little time to run to the grocery store or do some vacuuming. When Saturday rolls around, you’ll have the freedom to pack in more fun.

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Get your work done early

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Sometimes you can’t get around bringing work home for the weekend. If you do have to tackle a project, get up an hour early and buckle down. Set an alarm for two or three hours and spend that time focused on your task. When the alarm goes off, turn your computer off and spend the rest of your weekend to yourself.

Don’t just watch sports—get in on the action

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For every hour you watch a sports game on TV, spend 30 minutes playing sports or exercising to keep from becoming a couch potato. As fun as it is to watch your favorite athlete score, you’ll feel even better if you’re the one hitting that home run or swishing a basketball through the net.

Tap into your inner child

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Instead of sending your kids outside while you spend the day cleaning or reading, join in the fun. Play tag, shoot hoops, or climb a tree to get active while laughing and bonding with your children.

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Plan ahead

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Every Thursday night, make a realistic list of how you’ll spend your weekend. Check the weather to decide if you’d rather go on a long bike ride or invite friends over for a wine night. Then mark down all the nonnegotiables, like dropping your kid off at a birthday party or attending a religious service. Then fill the rest of the time up with solid plans so you don’t resort to sitting in front of the TV or shopping online for clothes you don’t need.

Mix up your routine

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Start by making a list of weekend fitness activities you enjoy, then pick one to do every weekend. You’ll stay active and won’t get bored if you’re alternating between canoeing, cycling, hiking, and more.

Sign up for a race

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Training for a run, bike ride, or walk will motivate you to lace up on the weekends and keep exercise a priority. Take a tip from serious athletes and aim for longer, harder workouts on the weekends, when you don’t need to rush to the office.

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Keep sports items in the car

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If you’ve always got a soccer ball, baseball and glove, or volleyball—plus a good pair of sneakers—in the car, you’ll always have the option to pull over for a game if you find yourself with a bit of downtime. On the other hand, here are items you should never leave in the car.

Spend time outdoors

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Studies have shown that taking a stroll in a natural space can boost your mood more than walking near traffic. Take a family walk through a park or a forest to lift your spirits and raise your heart rate. Here's why one cardiologist loves the practice of "forest bathing."

Do some yard work

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Mowing the lawn, raking leaves, and weeding a garden can burn calories and build upper-body strength. One study deemed gardening the best physical activity to prevent osteoporosis. Make the labor as physical as possible by using a push mower instead of a self-propelled one, or grabbing a rake rather than a leaf blower. You’ll burn more calories and reduce air pollution.

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Reward your physical work

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Give yourself something to look forward to after putting in some active labor. Taking the time to clean your yard will prepare you to relax with a barbecue later that night. Or if you take your family on a hike, pack a picnic with your favorite sandwiches for a tasty indulgence when you get back to the car.

Go for a long bike ride

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Squeezing in a short ride during the week is great, but when the weekend rolls around, you have the freedom to spend as much time on your bike as you want. Ride around your neighborhood, or load your bike into your car and find a more scenic route. Pack plenty of food so you can stay out half the day or more if you want, but make sure you’ve got cash, too, in case you need a pit stop at a coffee shop.

Get involved with your kid’s team

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Instead of dropping your child off at practice, sign up to coach their sports team. If you don’t feel cut out for that, see if you can help assist the team by keeping the score or handing out nourishing snacks. You’ll get out of the car and fit in some exercise while supporting your kid.

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Store a Frisbee in your car

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You can play Frisbee gold practically anywhere. Pick out 18 telephone poles, trees or other targets, and see who can hit them all with the least number of throws.

Go on a camping trip

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A family camping trip is the perfect way to create happy memories while spending the weekend with active outdoor fun. Splash around in a lake, take a canoe for a ride, or explore the woods with a nature hike. The hassle of pitching a tent and building a fire will be worth it—promise.

Join a club

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Many outdoors organizations hold group excursions for bikers, joggers, or bird-watchers on Saturdays and Sundays. A guide will lead you on an outing that lasts half or all of the day. If you don’t know where to look for local groups, check out what’s available from your fitness center or park.

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Power walk through the mall

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If your spouse or kids has to go shopping but you don’t, take some laps around the mall while they buy what they need. Go your separate ways and agree to meet at a certain time and place. You’ll burn more calories than you would slowly browsing racks of clothes.

Hire a cleaning service

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Letting someone else do your cleaning for you will save you hours you’d normally spend scrubbing. If you don’t have the funds for it, try cutting down on little extras to help you save up. Pack lunch and cook dinner instead of going out, or color your own hair instead of heading to the salon. The sacrifice will be worth the relief you’ll feel when you see and smell how clean your home is.

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