How a Little Exercise Can Go a Long Way
So you’ve been out of the proverbial exercise loop the last few weeks, months, years… lifetime? Why? If you are like the majority of us out there, your go-to excuse isn’t that you don’t have a great playlist to “pump you up” or that you just can’t seem to find the right workout partner. No, my guess is that you haven’t gotten into the groove of exercise simply because you don’t have enough time, right? We all are pinched for time everyday so who can possibly find 60 minutes each day to sweat your butt off?
What We Think
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Most of us think that we need at least 45 minutes to justify actually going to the gym or exercising at home. Anything less isn’t worth the time, right? “How can 15 minutes of exercise improve my health?”
When you combine this mentality with our hectic schedule it leads to an inactive lifestyle. In fact, at least 36% of U.S. adults admit that they are physically inactive during their leisure time! No, we aren’t talking about lifting or running a mile, it simply means that 36% of us barely leave the couch when we aren’t at work… seriously… But does it even matter? Does it affect our actual health?
Physical inactivity has been shown to lead to at least a 20% population-wide increase in heart disease and colon cancer, 18% increase in bone fractures and a 12% increase in diabetes! Plus, it can take away years of our independence! Not only that, but it’s been found that leisure time physical activity can add as many as 4.5 years to your life! So it might be worth getting back to being active, right?
A Little Exercise Goes a Long Way
Not only does exercise go a long way in decreasing your risk of disease and improve your life expectancy, it also helps improve your strength, muscle mass, basal metabolic rate, cardiovascular health, bone health and your overall quality of life! But if it takes at least 45 minutes each day many of us still won’t do it!
What if it only took 20 minutes? Researchers have found that a daily 20 minute brisk walk (taking you from inactive to moderately active) can reduce your risk of early death. Only 20 minutes! In fact, it has been found that briskly walking for just 20 minutes a day can reduce your risk of heart attack by up to 40%. Plus, walking helps offset the negative effects of sitting behind a desk and can help you lose weight.
You can exercise anywhere, for however little time you have. Even at the office, try this:
No matter how pinched for time you are, it seems that we do have time to improve our health! All you have to do is use a few free minutes a day to get up and get active – even if it just means walking around the block! If you want to kick it up a notch you can perform quick, at-home circuits to help ramp up your heart rate and help you start to build calorie burning muscle! These strength-training circuits have been found to be the most effective way to boost your post-workout metabolism compared to normal weight training.
Effective At-Home Circuit
We can now put some of this into action by performing quick, effective at-home (or at the gym) workouts! One way to set up an efficient circuit is to create a routine composed of 6-8 exercises that alternate between cardio and strength training which works your entire body. We will want to perform these in a timed fashion (30 seconds each exercise), doing as many reps as possible for each exercise. [Note: Have proper clearance from your physician before beginning an exercise program.] You will want to move from exercise to exercise with little to no rest between the sets in order to keep your heart rate elevated the entire time!
Here’s an example workout you can employ at a high-intensity to get you moving:
- Mountain Climbers
- Walking Lunges
- Jumping Jacks
- Squat with Upright Row
- Bicycles Crunches
- Bicep Curl
Go in order through these 7 moves, performing each for 30 seconds. Then take a 1-2 minute break between sets and get at it again for 3 total sets. By maintaining a high-intensity you can easily get this done in around 15 minutes!
As you probably have guessed these quick workouts aren’t intended to help you build massive biceps or squat 400 pounds. Instead, they are intended to help you burn calories, build muscle, improve your heart health and get you active! Isn’t that better than skipping exercise altogether?
Josh (M.S., PT) is the founder and editor of Always Active Athletics: “DIY Fitness, Food and Lifestyle – No Gym Needed!” He strives to combine the latest science with fitness to help everyone exercise smarter from the comforts of their own homes!