The great grocery store workout

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, is a Certified Health Coach and a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center.

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

In the midst of a busy day, filled with meetings, schedules and camp carpool, it’s often challenging to carve out time in the day to peruse the grocery store.  Sometimes, this has the unfortunate side effect of ending up with fast food for dinner, or grabbing the first thing closest to the door and checkout aisle at the supermarket.

Recently a research panel polled some of the top fitness trainers from around the country, seeking the answer to this burning question: When is the best time of day to shop while not sabotaging your health?

As it turns out, one trainer revealed that she does her grocery shopping immediately after the gym (following the protein shake, of course). She claims it is too tempting to shop when she is very hungry, because that is when less than ideal choices are selected. However, after working hard in the gym and doing something to benefit her body, she finds herself much more inclined to purchase very healthy foods such as lean proteins, fresh fruits and lots of vegetables.

This is a brilliant strategy. As long as you have set aside a specific time of day to exercise, consider tagging an extra 45 minutes to that time commitment and cool down at the grocery.


If this extra time just won’t work on a certain day, fear not. Simply cut the gym time down, and finish the workout as you shop, following these handy creative tips:

• Work your quads while reaching for something on a lower shelf (prices are usually better down here, anyway). Instead of bending over, save your back and bend with your knees, holding a squat for 30 seconds while reading the label of food item on the lower shelf. When rising, force your heels into the floor.

• Perform some calf raises while selecting your produce. As you search for the perfect apple or stalks of broccoli, stand on your tiptoes. Remain there while finding the prized produce, then return back to flat feet. Repeat this at every fruit/vegetable display, aiming for at least five different locations within the store.

• Do leg lifts while waiting in line. Work your legs and backside while standing still. Point your toe in front of you and lift your leg as high as possible, without kicking the shopper ahead of you. Try keeping your knee straight. Lower to the floor and repeat. Follow by pointing your toe behind you and lifting your leg as high as possible behind you, taking two to three seconds for a good glute squeeze. Continue, alternating legs, until you hear the words, “Hi! Do you have any coupons today?”

• Improve your posture. Rolling your shoulders forward and backward to loosen up the muscles in your neck can easily and subtly be accomplished while walking through the grocery store. Not only can it relieve tension, it will also enable you to focus on your posture.

• Tone your arms while carrying your groceries to the car. While holding a bag in each hand, bring your elbows close to your sides. Perform some bicep curls by bending at the elbow and bringing your hands and the bags closer to your shoulders. Release slowly with resistance, and repeat until your trunk is filled with healthy goodness. (You may want to request that the bagger not put all of the canned goods in the same bag!)

Hopefully this plan will enable you to get the most out of your busy day. Combining exercise with prudent food choices has always been the best path towards good health; now, they can both be done in one convenient location.  Shop happy!