Short on time but know you need to exercise? Adding small bouts of exercise — as little as one minute — into your day can make a big difference to your health and your well being. Here are eight workouts to get you moving and working on the five pillars of fitness: cardio, mobility, strength, flexibility, and balance.
Cardio keeps your heart and lungs healthy while circulating oxygen and energy throughout your body. You can get your cardio in at home, work or anywhere you have the time and space to perform a no-impact movement like marching in place or jumping jacks.
Marching: Stand tall with your core engaged. Lift your knees high while pumping your arms.
Repeat for 30-60 seconds.
Jumping jacks: Engaging your core, stay up on the balls of the feet. Reaching your arms overhead, jump your feet wide to shoulder width apart. Bring your hands together to clap while your legs and feet return together underneath you.
The ability to move your joints through a complete range of motion is essential to keep your joints healthy and to keep you moving well.
Joint rotations: Make 10 circular motions at each joint – wrists, ankles, hips, and neck- in each direction both clockwise and counter-clockwise. Breathe slowly and comfortably throughout the rotations. If you notice any restrictions, discomfort, or pain at any joint, stop and seek advice from a physical therapist.
Your muscles need resistance and repetitions to make them stronger. The best piece of equipment you have is your own body — it’s always with you and it’s free!
Push-up: Using a counter, desk surface, or a wall, step your feet to a hip’s width distance. Stay up on the balls of your feet. Keep your elbows by your sides and press your hands to a surface while bracing your core and engaging the glutes. Bend your elbows and lower your body toward the pressing surface. Exhale as you push-up and away from the surface.
Repeat 10-15 times, adding additional sets as you get stronger.
Squat: Brace your core and shift your weight back into your heels, bending your knees as though you are about to sit into an imaginary chair. Press your feet into the floor and return to standing.
Repeat 10–15 times.
Regular stretching — both with dynamic movement and holding a position — keeps your muscles long and pliable. Without stretching, your muscles may become short and tight, putting you at risk for pain, strain, and injury.
Cat/dog stretch (dynamic stretch):
Start in a neutral position, with your hands underneath the shoulders and knees below the hips. Exhale while you drop your chin to your chest and round your back. Stretch your upper and lower back simultaneously while contracting your abdominal muscles (mini-crunch). Inhale and stretch tall, arching into your low back while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Repeat this movement five-10 times.
You can also do the cat/dog stretch modified while sitting in your parked car with your hands placed on the steering wheel.
Side bend (static stretch): While seated, place your feet firmly on the floor to create stability. Inhale to lengthen the spine and raise both arms up overhead. Lower one hand to the seat of the chair beside your leg, reaching the other arm overhead as you start to bend sideways.
Keep your extended arm’s wrist and elbow loose as well as your neck. Hold this position for at least five deep breaths.
Good balance is necessary to perform daily activities like walking, going up and down stairs, lifting laundry, and carrying groceries. Simply standing on a single leg will strengthen the muscles of your foot, ankle, leg, and core — something you can do anywhere.
Stork stance: Brace your core and connect the four corners of your foot to the ground. Focusing your gaze on one item, shift your weight to a single leg and raise the opposite leg in front, to the side, or behind you. Breathe slowly and comfortably. Hold this position for three, five, or more deep breaths.
You can challenge your balance by increasing the amount of time (and breaths taken), tipping your head side to side or closing your eyes.