Can't wake up early enough to get in a workout at the gym before work? Always have too much on your plate to be on your mat for a full hour? It is deceptively easy to find reasons to skip exercise when you can't commit to all that time in your day. Sounds all too familiar? It turns out that you can reap the benefits of working out by getting in a few minutes of exercise through the day, which, most pros say, should amount to be about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week.
“Even a quick five-minute push-up or a burpee session can get your heart racing. Plus, dedicated small bursts of even just five minutes is enough to help you form a habit,” says Delhi-based fitness expert Sumaya Dalmia. Known as fitness snacks, research backs the claim that these short bursts of intense exercises can have a positive effect on your basal metabolic rate, and also help release stress-busting hormones through the day. A better mental and physical state means that exercise snacking will help you ward off chronic diseases.
“If done with the right kind of intensity, the post-workout effect, known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) is said to be higher, which means fat burning is on overdrive even after the workout is done,” adds celebrity fitness coach Shivoham. According to a 2019 study, even three such small bites of exercise through the day will improve cardiovascular health and increase aerobic fitness. Here are six ways to add movement to your day.1) Climb the stairs
The elevator may be more convenient and faster, but taking the stairs can have an impact on your overall health. “Skip the lift, and take the stairs whenever you can,” says Dalmia. It helps strengthen the lower body, works on your glutes and improves cardiovascular health as well as it pumps fresh air into your lungs. If you find yourself out of breath after climbing a couple of floors, it’s because it gets your heart pumping and requires 8-9 times more energy than merely sitting.2) Use your breaks well
Sitting for long periods can lead to lower back pain, reduced mobility of the hips and can cause an increase in muscular tension. Stretching is important to reduce the viscosity of the synovial fluid which surrounds our joints and lubricates them. “When you are constantly sitting, you will suffer from postural tightness, which can be avoided with mobility exercises,” says Dalmia. Start by clasping your hands on the back and stretch your chest out to improve your spine’s movement. “Now alternate between toe touches, spin rotations, forward bends and neck rotations to target all the spots that suffer from lack of movement and blood supply when you are glued to your workstation,” says Dalmia. If you're standing in a line or waiting for something, calf raises can help you warm up your muscles in the easiest manner too.3) Try adding a workout in between meetings
“Stand up every two hours and move,” says Dalmia. “If you're working from home, you can create a workout routine by doing 15-20 desk pushups, desk tricep dips, squats and lunges. Do 15 reps per exercise and combined with mini stretching routines which last two to three minutes, you will clock in 20 minutes of exercise a day,” says Dalmia. Don't have the space? Jumping jacks, star jumps or jogging on the spot can get your heart rate up, very quickly.
“Choose five of your favourite movements and perform them at a high intensity without taking much rest. These exercises should cover your upper body, lower body and cardio exercises for the core,” says Shivoham. So you could start with pushups, move to lunges, do a backbend, then do mountain climbers and finish with a minute of spot jogging. Consistently doing these five-minute exercises through the day will increase your metabolic rate.4) Pick a chore
Household chores such as ironing and doing the dishes can help you work up a sweat and get your muscles moving. Cleaning and organising your home or workspace will not only get you moving but will also help lower stress by the way of decluttering.5) Walk, as often as you can
“Look for excuses to get more steps in your day," she confirms, whether it is going to the water cooler farthest from you in the office, or walking up and down the stairs while chatting on the phone. Walking helps to ward off heart disease, brings up the heart rate, lowers blood pressure and strengthens the heart. If you're chatting on the phone or discussing something with a coworker, making it a walking meeting might be more beneficial than just sitting through one.6) Make your leisure time active too
If you're watching TV, don't just settle down with a bowl of ice cream. Instead, take breaks between episodes, adding push-ups or jumping jacks while the credits roll. Even while watching, you can add exercises like squats and still pay attention to the show. “A little is better than nothing and it's all about building the habit,” says Shivoham.Also read:
5 five-minute workout routines that really work
5 important things to consider before you pick an online workout video
How to create a workout plan for yourself if you’ve never worked out before