Think you don’t have the spare hours needed to stay fit and healthy? Think again! With the help of our experts we’ve got plenty of quick and easy ways you can squeeze exercise into your everyday life. Ready, set, go…
Sometimes it really does feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. In between juggling work, making sure the kids have what they need and trying to keep the whole family well fed, there’s not usually much room for anything else – and that can include exercise.
But, when you say you don’t have time to stay active, what you’re actually saying is it’s not a priority for you. And while not all of us can be gym-loving bunnies, a certain degree of movement and fitness is essential for our wellbeing. David Wiener, training and nutrition specialist at fitness app Freeletics (freeletics.com), says there are lots of reasons why you should try to carve out some time for exercise in your day. “There are countless benefits to exercising regularly and making it a priority in your life,” he explains. “For starters, it can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50 percent and lower your risk of early death by 30 percent. Research also shows that exercising regularly can boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy levels.”
And for him, being time-strapped is not always a proper excuse. “You’re never too busy to exercise, and no matter how much is on your to-do list, regular exercise will make you feel better and give you more energy and focus,” he says. “Just 15 to 20 minutes a day can make a real difference, so whether you wake up a tiny bit earlier, or go to bed just a little bit later, you won’t regret it.”
So, how can we squeeze more movement and exercise into our day? David has the following tips…
Exercising at the start of the day is a good idea, because getting it out the way means you can’t make excuses later, and once it’s done, it’s done. You can get a good workout in just 15 minutes, so setting your alarm a little earlier and ensuring you stick to a schedule can really help. Try using an app such as Freeletics for exercise ideas – this features a six-week programme of 15-minute workouts, perfect for early mornings.
When you brush your teeth
While you’re brushing your teeth, incorporate a short circuit of squats and lunges to make the most of the time you’d usually stand still. Both are extremely beneficial for improving circulation, increasing strength in your knee joints, and activating and strengthening your core, in addition to toning your legs and bottom.
If you’re at work, make sure you take a lunch break, and in addition to eating your lunch, try to fit in some exercise. If the weather is nice, a brisk walk or jog will get your blood pumping, but if it’s raining, try walking up and down the office stairs a few times.
While you’re at work
If you’ve got a desk-based job, there are some great yoga stretches that you can do over the course of a working day which can increase your flexibility and help to combat aches and pains. A couple of good moves to try are a neck stretch and a seated twist.
When you’re cooking
Fitting in extra movement into your day is all about making use of dead time and there are some great exercises you can do while cooking. Try a short HIIT circuit of star jumps, burpees, a plank and heel raises while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil or the oven to warm up. You could also use the kitchen counter to do push ups or perform squats while you’re loading the dishwasher.
In front of the TV
There are lots of simple bodyweight exercises you can do while watching your favourite show on Netflix – think planks, squats, mountain climbers, lunges and triceps dips with the assistance of the sofa. You could also hold a squat position up against the wall, mimicking the action of sitting down, but working your body a whole lot harder.
Make the most of your time
Got a spare 10 minutes before you have to pick up the kids? Or five minutes while they’re playing outside? Whatever time you have, there’s always an exercise you can do. Personal trainer Kim Ngo from London-based fitness studio 1Rebel (1rebel.co.uk) reveals her favourites…
If you have 5 minutes… enjoy some stretching
Five minutes is all you need to do some mobility work. Many of us sit hunched over our desks every day, which can be very detrimental for our posture. Hold each of the following yoga poses for one to three seconds before moving on to the next: child’s pose, cat cow, world’s greatest stretch, pigeon pose and downward dog.
If you have 10 minutes… try a ladder workout
This is a good chunk of time to do a strength-based ladder. Complete 10 reps of the following exercises: push-ups, reverse lunges (on both legs) and froggers (where you start in plank position and then jump your feet forward so they are outside your hands and you land into a deep squat). Then complete nine reps of each and keep going until you get down to one.
If you have 15 minutes… push yourself with a HIIT workout
In 15 minutes you can do a great bodyweight strength-based HIIT workout. Do each of the following exercises for 30 seconds and then pause for a 30-second rest before moving on to the next one: squat jumps, shoulder taps, jumping lunges, mountain climbers and kick throughs. Complete three rounds.
If you have 20 minutes… go out for a run
Lace up, head outdoors, soak up some vitamin D and go for a run! To spice up your session, try using some fartlek techniques (which means ‘speed play’ in Swedish). All you need to do is set your eyes on a tree or traffic light ahead (it doesn’t matter how close or far it is) and run fast towards it. Once you get to it you can go into a light jog recovery until you set your next target.