There are a lot of things you need to do today. That means that your favorite workout may be on the back burner. Even if you only have a few minutes to spare, even a couple of exercises can bring benefits. These “exercise snacks”, which can be broken up by sitting for long periods of time, increase energy and even improve your long-term health, may also help to boost your mood.
Emmanuel Stamatakis PhD is a professor of physical activity and lifestyle at the University of Sydney, Australia.
He says that most adults will reap the benefits of exercising at any time. It all adds up and improves overall fitness as well as heart health and lung function.
In Applied Physiology and Nutrition , a study was done to determine the effects of “exercise snack” or other short-duration, high intensity activities. They asked young adults, who all had reported a low level of activity, to climb a flight of stairs three times per day for six weeks. The researchers found that this level of exercise improved cardiorespiratory fitness.
Here are the recommendations of four fitness professionals.
1. Around-the-World Lunges
Moving is important, especially if you have been sitting a lot lately. However, it is also vital to move, according to Rocky Snyder, a personal coach. He says, “Your body adapts to whatever environment you place it in.” Sitting causes the muscles around your hips and lower backs to contract, as well as causing other muscles overwork and inflammation. He suggests the “lunge matrix”, sometimes called “around-the world lunges”, as a method to improve your breathing.
Snyder says these multidirectional lunges increase range of motion and lengthen the hip, lower back and hip muscles.
How to do
- Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart.
- With your left foot, take a big step forward. Keep your knees bent at 90 degrees. Your front knee should rest directly on your ankle. This is your front lunge. Move your left foot to the center.
- Place your left foot on the left side, and then bend your left knee. (Kneecap facing forward). Straighten your right leg. That’s your side lunge. Move your left foot to the center.
- Now, place your left foot behind your right foot so that your right leg is in front. Now, extend your rear leg. Restore your left leg to the starting position.
- You can now repeat the same sequence using your right leg. Right foot steps back into an incline in the rear, then to a side lunge to the right and then to a forward lunge to the front.
Snyder suggests doing one set of these lunges for a time limit. If you have more time, you can do more.
You have plenty of time to do some bodyweight squats, whether you are waiting for your coffee to finish brewing or brushing your teeth.
Kila Duncan, a certified personal trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), says that the squat is an essential, compound movement that trainers all over the world use. She is based in Spring Texas. She says that the squat is not only highly effective in building lower-body strength, although it can do so, but it also gives you greater mobility in daily life.
She adds, “You can either sit down or stand up and do a squat.” The squat is essential for functional movement inside and outside the gym.
How to do
- Stand with your feet approximately hip-distance apart.
- As you engage your core muscles, press your hips back like you’re about for a chair.
- Keep your shoulders back and your back straight.
- Keep your knees aligned with your toes.
- To straighten, press your feet into your feet. (The glutes and other leg muscles should be engaged.
Ten squats are a good choice if you have a short time. Duncan suggests that you can do five squats slowly and with control if your goal is to improve your form.
You might find five minutes too short to get the benefits of exercise. Try holding a plank for as long as you can.
Planks can be considered another foundational exercise. They are just holding the position at the top of a pushup. You can also modify them to do burpees, mountain climbers or side planks .
“Plank pose is also great to strengthen the back,” says Carol Mack DPT, CSCS. She’s a physical therapist and trainer at Cle Sports PT & Performance, based in Cleveland. It activates the stabilizing muscles of the core, which supports the spine.
How to do
- Start at the top of a pushup position. Make sure your shoulders are higher than your wrists.
- Engage your leg muscles by pushing your heels back and engaging your core muscles.
- Keep your shoulders straight and ensure your back is not sagging. The goal is to keep your back straight as possible.
The harder a plank is, the longer you hold it. Begin with 15 to 20 seconds, and then work your way up until you can hold the position for longer.
4. Bear Crawls
Do you want to change up your routine? Get on the floor. According to Boulder-based Mike, a NASM certified personal trainer and creator Animal Flow, a program that uses bodyweight to move, doing movements such as bear crawls taps into your childlike need to play.
He says that adults tend to move in the same direction, even when exercising. But if you look at children playing, you’ll see that they are all over the place with crawling, crawling and twisting. We love the variety.
Fitch says that moving in new ways, similar to trying out different activities, can fire up the brain just as much as the body. If you only have a few minutes to spare and need to get your mind-body connected, go wild.
How to do
- Place your hands on the tabletop and place your knees on the ground. Make sure your shoulders are not below your wrists.
- Place your hands on your knees and press your fingers into your chest.
- One foot should be moved forward and the other must be moved back an equal distance (12 to 16 inches). The rest of your body should remain low to the ground in the same tabletop position.
- Do the same thing, but this time with your opposite foot and hand moving forward.
- Keep your back straight and keep your eyes on the ground to align your neck with your spine.
- Alternate sides to “crawl” forward. You can reverse this movement to crawl backwards.
Fitch states that you can use this move to either speed up or slow down. If you only have a few minutes, crawl down the hall of your house and turn around.
This post was written by Darryl Johnson, Co-Owner of Apex performance. At Apex performance we are a community of highly trained experts looking to provide performance enhancement and a permanent lifestyle change for our clients in a fun and interactive environment. Members can take advantage of youth sports performance training near me, one-on-one training, small group classes and specialized courses for a wide variety of athletics, sports training and body goals!