Good news for people like me who know you need to move it or lose it but don’t want to spend an hour or even a half hour exercising every day. Studies are racking up that show even short sessions a day can add up to better health. And even better news – we found a bunch of short routines that work, you can do indoors our out, and that don’t cost you a dime. A little time and no money? That works for me (and you)!
Climb five flights of stairs at a time twice a day. Or do all 10 in one shot if you can take it. If you have to start smaller just do it! Add a flight when you’re no longer out of breath.
Set a schedule based on what you do – after each meal at home, during baby nap time, before and after work – and stick to it. Besides the cardiovascular benefits, it’s a good way to work your lower body, build bone density and even increase good cholesterol.
If you haven’t been diagnosed with osteoporosis, at least twice a day stand up and jump! March 50 steps in between each jump working up to 10 sets of jump/march sequences. Jump as high as you can each time (but don’t overdo it!), barefooted on a rug or uncovered floor. You’ll give your bones a workout that prevents bone density loss and can actually build it.
Want a simple way to tighten your abs and strengthen your core? Contract your abdominal muscles. You should feel like you’re belly button is moving toward your back and notice your chest inflate. Continue breathing as normal and hold for a few seconds then repeat for as long as you can.
Some people pick a trigger moment – like at every red light when driving, during commercials or for one minute on the hour at work – to do this. And it really works. You’re using your own muscle build force/resistance (isometrics) and in turn, making them stronger.
Stretching is good but don’t you always forget what you have to do for what body part? Keep things simple by rotating each of the major joints – neck, knees, shoulders, wrists, elbows, ankles, torso/waist and hips – three times in each direction. Do these a few times a day to relax and work out the kinds. You’ll also gain increased flexibility and range of motion over time.
Mix it Up with Intervals
Walk in place at a normal pace for 30 seconds. For the next 20 seconds, increase the pace to a jog and in the final 10 seconds, run. Repeat that pattern 5 times. If you have time, take a minute to rest then do it all over again because that’s the routine that showed the same health benefits gained from a brisk 30 minute walk. But whether it’s 3 minutes here, 5 minutes there, this pattern of mixing the intensity gives you more bang for the buck than if you worked at the same pace for the same amount of time.
Hold That Pose
Take a tip from yoga and hold a position that contracts a muscle or group for 10 – 15 seconds. Stand up and press your palms into a wall. Hold still in a squat or lunge position. Get on the floor and do a plank (the position you’re in when you’re doing a push up). “Sit” against a wall. You get the idea.
To avoid imbalances – like overdeveloping the front or your thighs and not the back – choose opposing muscle groups to work. While you’re not putting your muscles through their full range of motion, you should notice some firmness and better balance over time.