Too busy, too tired, too stressed...these are all common excuses when it comes to blowing off a workout. Unfortunately, these justifications mean nothing for our health. You don't need to run a marathon to benefit from physical activity—with these ten-minute workouts, you can maximize your free time without even breaking a sweat.
Lack of time and money are two of the greatest perceived barriers to exercising. Everyone is just too busy and too stressed to put aside time to focus on their health. The reality is that if you have 10 minutes and a little outdoor space, you have no excuses.
Time for fitness
Family demands and everyday responsibilities can make it extremely difficult to fit in a workout at the gym before or after work. You may have to get the kids ready for school in the morning, or your attention is consumed by walking the dog, making dinner, and updating your Twitter account in the evenings (selfie!).
Lunch is the one block of time out of your day that’s just for you—it’s the ticket to keeping you healthy and active. Whether your lunch break is 30 minutes or 60 minutes, you can fit in a 10-minute workout without having to change your clothes!
A walk in the park
Walking is better than sitting, and it’s been proven to reduce anxiety and depression and boost mental health in otherwise sedentary individuals. While walking on a treadmill is better than sitting, walking outdoors is even better!
If you’re looking for a little more bang for your buck, take 10 minutes to do five exercises that will strengthen and lengthen your muscle, without breaking a sweat. Before dismissing this idea, note that these exercises are based on isometric contractions of muscle, that is, engaging your muscles without lengthening or shortening them.
Research has shown that isometric contractions not only increase strength within muscles, but may also lower blood pressure. Of course, if you aren’t eating a healthy lunch, a good workout routine will only take you so far. Consult a holistic nutritionist for advice on what to eat to support your fitness.
Sweat-free isometric workout
If you’re crunched for time, there are two methods of training that will maximize your efficiency: super-setting and circuit training. For our isometric workout, we’ll employ the method of super-setting: we’ll alternate a 30-second positional hold with a 30-second stretch twice, before moving on to the next pairing. You may want to bring a mat that you can put on the ground, so you don’t get dirty.
To add an element of flexibility, these five exercises will be alternated with dynamic stretches to contribute to optimal posture.
Saturday, June 6 is Canada’s first National Health and Fitness Day!
Contact your local member of Parliament at parl.gc.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members for information on local activities, or better yet, create your own!
Pairing 1: Lunge Hold and Rag Doll Stretch
Muscles worked: gluteals, hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus medius
Begin by stepping your left foot forward, so there’s 3 to 4 ft (1 to 1.2 m) between the heel of your front foot and the toe of your back foot.
Shift your weight to your front heel, allowing the heel of your right foot to come off the ground.
For balance, extend your arms out to the sides as you lower your back knee to a height of 3 or 4 in (7.5 to 10 cm) off the ground. Your body should remain upright and still.
Set a goal of holding this position for 20 to 30 seconds (30 seconds being the maximum).
Upon completion, rise back up by straightening your legs, and then step your right foot forward.
In set two, you’ll repeat these steps, but with the other leg forward.
Rag Doll Stretch
Muscles stretched: hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, lower back
Begin in standing position with feet roughly hip width apart.
Keeping your limbs mostly straight (but allowing for a slight bend during movement), push your hips back as you allow your body to bend forward at the waist, relaxing into the stretch so that you feel a light pull in the back of your legs.
Relax into this stretch for about 5 seconds, and then rise back up.
Upon achieving full standing position, allow yourself to relax back into the stretch.
Repeat for 30 seconds.
Getting up to 15 minutes of sun exposure a day (without sunscreen) is recommended for fair-skinned people to produce an adequate daily amount of vitamin D within the body. A longer exposure time may be required for people with darker skin.
Pairing 2: High Push-up Hold and Chest Stretch
High Push-up Hold
Muscles worked: chest, triceps, shoulders, core
Depending on your current fitness level, you can either do this on the ground or with hands elevated on a bench or a wall; the higher your hands are above your feet, the lower the level of difficulty.
Begin on your hands and knees, with your hands flat on the ground underneath your shoulders and shoulder width apart.
Keeping your eyes toward the ground and your elbows at roughly a 45-degree angle from your body, allow your upper body to lower 3 to 5 in (7.5 to 12.5 cm) toward the ground.
Focus on squeezing your abdominals by drawing your stomach muscles in toward your spine and squeezing them for as long as you can hold this position. If you feel your abdominals release, the exercise is over.
When your time is up, come back up to standing position.
If you want to make this exercise more difficult, you can either sink lower to the ground or perform from your toes, instead of your knees.