Don’t Wait in Line

Lines for tests. Lines for groceries. Lines for everything. While lines are possibly unavoidable, the waiting is totally avoidable. Here is how.

Don't Wait In Line

Every minute that you stand somewhere is an opportunity to exercise—and every exercise that doesn’t injure you helps you live a more active, fit life. Standing in a line is no different than standing at a ballet bar (minus the mirror), or a weight rack (minus the steel), or in the goalie net (minus the attacker). Let’s start with the toes and work our way up.

The small muscles of your feet between the bones tire out and produce achy feet when de-conditioned. To strengthen them, start with simple toe raises. See how many you can do before the line moves ahead one stop. These toe raises also benefit the calf muscles and improve your balance. Do them with both feet, then try single-leg toe raises. Shoot for 100 raises every day.

Standing near a wall? Push your straight leg out against the wall, and—keeping your leg straight—hold it there, with hard pressure, for ten seconds. If there’s no wall, push against your other foot. Do ten every time the line moves.

Mini squats. Simply bend both knees, keeping your stomach in and your shoulders back behind your hips. Go as low as you feel comfortable; even a short mini squat works well. Do ten squats each time—first using both legs, then squatting with one leg, with your opposite leg bent behind you, toe on the ground for stability. One hundred per day will keep the doctor away.

Do biceps curls using your pocketbook or shopping bag, your book or laptop, or even a nearby rock—anything to provide a little weight and resistance. If nothing is easily available, use one hand to push down on your other palm while curling your arm up. Do ten sets of ten, every time you find yourself in line.

All chest and shoulders muscles (with the Latin names Pectoralis, Subscapularis, Infraspinatus, Teres, and Deltoid) respond to simple resistance exercises while standing. Square your shoulders back and tighten your scapulae (the flat bones behind your shoulders). Rotate one arm toward your belly button while resisting the push with your other arm. Then rotate your arm outwards, with the other hand holding resistance at the forearm. Try sets of ten, holding the resistance as firmly as you can. 

Breathe deeply, thinking of your lungs in three areas. Inhale to fill the lower third, then inhale a little more to fill the area above your nipples. Finally, inhale with three short breaths to fill the area above your collarbones. Exhale slowly and completely.  

Think. Calm the mind when breathing, and free your thoughts. Imagine life in new ways. Never wait impatiently in line, when there is so much good that you can do all by, and for, yourself. 


Medically authored by
Kevin R. Stone, MD
Orthopaedic surgeon, clinician, scientist, inventor, and founder of multiple companies. Dr. Stone was trained at Harvard University in internal medicine and orthopaedic surgery and at Stanford University in general surgery.