Thinking about how you can fit in exercise—on top of everything else—can be daunting.
With busy home lives, professional lives and family lives, it’s hard to find both the time and energy needed to exercise.
But there’s a solution.
Studies have found that short bursts of exercise can be just as beneficial as workouts that are continuous. Tamilee Webb, creator of Buns & Abs of Steel, shares, “The key isn’t really how long the duration or short. It’s the intensity and the consistency.”
In other words, squeezing the right exercises into your busy day can be just as effective as a long workout at the gym.
And while you may not be able to exercise every day or every week, any amount of physical movement provides for a better, healthier, more energetic life. It will also help prevent disease and health issues.
Self Magazine agrees saying that, “Even one workout—yes a single workout—can make a difference in your long-term health.”
So if you don’t have time to hit the gym or take long runs, here are 7 exercises you can do at home—in the midst of a busy day—without any equipment at all.
The move: Keeping your shoulders back and your eyes looking forward. Step your right leg forward. Lower your hips, creating a 90-degree angle bend in both of your knees.
Your front knee should be directly above your ankle and neither knee should touch the floor. Bring your hips back up to return to the starting position. Put your other foot forward and repeat.
Be sure to engage your core as you complete each lunge.
When to squeeze it in: You can complete this exercise in the middle of cooking dinner (stationary lunges) or making a trip to the waste basket, mailbox or street corner (moving lunges).
If you want, you can add weight to the exercise by holding your baby, heavy cans of soup or bags of groceries.
2. Arm curls
The move: Hold onto an object, such as a bag of groceries or full water bottle, and drop your arm down to your side. Make sure your palm is facing forward holding the item.
Use your bicep muscle to pull the object upward toward your shoulder. Slowly bring your hand and the object back down. Complete a set of 5 or 10 on each side.
When to squeeze it in: Perfect for bringing groceries to the car or in the midst of cooking, you can tone your arms while completing other chores. Just pull something out of your cupboard to act as arm weights.
3. Side leg raise
The move: Lay down on your right side, with your legs extended and your right arm holding your head. Raise your left leg to the ceiling—about 1 meter from the ground. Hold your leg there for 3 seconds and bring it back down. Complete a set of 10 lifts on each side.
If you prefer a crunch, try this oblique crunch.
When to squeeze it in: When your kids are playing on the floor, curl up next to them and do this exercise. It’s so easy: you can keep the focus entirely on them!
The move: Stand upright and move your feet to be shoulder width apart. Begin sitting backward, keeping your knees from sliding forward. Continue downward until you are unable, or when you are in a nearly 90-degree angle position. Keep your back straight during the exercise.
When to squeeze it in: Complete a set of 5 or 10 squats whenever you have a break between work meetings, playing with your child or putting in a load of laundry. You can even do a few squats with your baby in arms or while picking up toys.
5. Running or jumping in place
The move: Without having to run a marathon or even around the block, you can pack in some intense cardio while staying in the same spot. Run in place by bringing your knees up to your chest one at a time.
Release each foot back to the floor, creating a running or climbing stairs motion.
You can also simply jump in place, doing tiny hops from side to side or large movements bringing both knees up toward your chest at the same time.
If you continue running or jumping in place for 1 minute or more at a time, you should be able to increase your heart rate for a good cardio exercise.
When to squeeze it in: Consider running or jumping in place in your office or home, between writing emails or bopping around the living room with your child. Every chance you have to move is an opportunity to burn some calories and increase your heart rate.
The move: Consider stretching any part of your body, especially those that don’t get a lot of movement during the day. You can stretch your arms, chest and back by sweeping your arms up over your head while taking in a large breath.
Grab your wrist with the opposite hand and slightly bend to one side. Hold there for 5 breaths while opening up your chest and breathing deeply. Be sure to alternate to the other side to balance it out.
For your legs, many stretches will do the trick. You can use a wall for stability while extending your leg backward and pressing your heel to the ground. Play with the spacing of your legs in order to get a maximum stretch, but one that doesn’t cause any pain or over extension.
When to squeeze it in: No matter if you’re working in the office or at home, you can squeeze in small stretch breaks between tasks.
At a minimum, take time every couple of hours to stretch your arms, back and legs.
Shape Magazine shared in a recent article that, “Stretching can lead to better posture, fewer aches and pains, greater confidence, and a cheerier outlook on life.” Stretching also increases blood flow and circulation.
7. Tricep dips
The move: Find a piece of furniture like a chair or couch. Firmly plant your feet on the ground about shoulder width apart with your back to the piece of furniture. Hold yourself up using your hands on the furniture.
Walk your feet out so that your legs are nearly straight. Begin dipping your hips toward the ground, creating a bend in your arms.
You should feel a flex of your tricep muscles. Push yourself back up slowly using your tricep muscles. Continue for a set of 10 tricep dips.
When to squeeze it in: During a TV show or break from cleaning the house, complete a set of dips. This move will help tone your arms and gain added muscle strength.
By adding in exercises into the small moments of your day, you can maintain a healthy, active lifestyle without needing to go to the gym or take time away from your family.
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