If you struggle to find time to go to the gym or are too tired to exercise after work, consider these easy go-anywhere workouts to hit your daily fitness quota.
Instagram fitness influencers effortlessly cranking out hours of exercise. Twenty-four-hour gyms on every corner. Ads for bootcamps and 12-week programs. The bombardment of high-octane fitness programs can make it feel as though every self-respecting person is sweating it out for an hour before or after work (6am Spin class, anyone?). But while the popularity of formal fitness training and programs is positive in many respects, it can also fuel a sort of all-or-nothing idea that other physical activity is not valuable. Where some of us may once have thought fitting in a lunchtime walk was worthwhile, we may now figure that, unless we’re running on the treadmill for an hour or attending a vigorous Pump class, our exercise efforts are a waste. Which isn’t the case.
In fact, for those of us looking to maintain general health and fitness, there are many ways to meet our weekly activity needs, which according to the National Physical Activity Guidelines, are a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week (or about 30 minutes a day). What’s more, there are many creative ways to sneak some or all of this activity into your workday. And if you’re thinking that a lunchtime workout will disrupt your workflow, think again. Exercising during the workday may boost your productivity and satisfaction at the end of the day according to a UK study. Another study found that workers who completed a single bout of moderate exercise such as 15 minutes of moderately intense cycling on a stationary bike experienced immediate benefits in mental function.
So what are the best exercises or activities to make the most of bits of time during the day? Experts recommend a combination of heart-rate-raising cardio and muscle-strengthening work (ideally in addition to the 30-plus minutes of vigorous activity, on at least two days per week). The good news is that you don’t need to complete your minutes in one go. You might splice together a 20-minute power walk around the local area at lunchtime, 10 minutes of stair running during your afternoon break and a mini upper body workout in the boardroom between meetings. To get around the worry of sweat marks or odours, stash a small gym bag under your desk with your sneakers, sports socks, a small towel, deodorant and a t-shirt to change back into in the office bathroom.
Ready to make the most of your workday? Try these starter ideas.
Office workout 1 (upper body/arms)
What you'll need: a filled bottle of water.
Office workout 2 (lower body/legs)
Office workout 3 (cardio/stairs)
Tailor your stair climbing work to your level of fitness. If you’re unfit or starting out, begin by simply walking up and down one or more flights of stairs a number of times. You may progress by keeping a similar pace but skipping a step. For those with solid cardio fitness, consider running up and down one or more flights of stairs a number of times and set challenges for personal bests. You can step up the challenge with stair running skipping a step (taking bigger steps) and/or carrying weights. Here are a few ideas to utilise the office facilities.
If you’re new or returning to vigorous physical activity, consider consulting a physiotherapist, who can evaluate your current fitness and any previous or existing conditions or injuries and make personalised recommendations to help you to reach your goals and prevent pain and injury.
If you’re working and working out from home, you may be missing the equipment and guidance you get from your gym, coach or personal trainer. (Not to mention those amazing massages that make laptop-related muscle knots and post-workout muscle soreness so much better.) We asked SH physio Sandra for a DIY solution to tide you over. Her answer? A foam roller.
This simple, affordable, go-anywhere device can facilitate myofascial release and provide some of the benefits as a massage from a remedial massage therapist, myotherapist or physio as well as reducing post-workout pain and helping to improve flexibility. If you don’t have one, they’re widely available online.
If you have a lockdown fitness dilemma or question, our sports experts are here to help. Just ask us in comments and we promise to answer!
Kids still at home? Struggling to tear them away from screen time for physical activity?
We asked our children’s physio Sandra for simple ways to get kids moving during COVID-19 lockdown (it’s kind of like hiding veggies in lasagne).
1. For leg strengthening for children aged 6+, try activities involving hopping, jumping and skipping. To make it interesting, consider using hurdles and cones and getting kids to run around them as they would in sport drills. Stuck for items to use as obstacles? Try using food cans or baby formula cans!
2. For upper limb and arm strength and mobility, try playing throw and catch games. Vary between single-hand and two-hand activities to improve hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills. (Don’t worry if they use their body or chest to catch the ball at first. This is normal!)
3. For general fitness, consider using YouTube videos (e.g. dance videos) or game consoles to make exercise fun. Another option is making an obstacle course in the backyard or playing animal games where participants walk like a crab, jump like a kangaroo, stand on one leg like a flamingo, slither like a snake or flap their arms like a bird.
If you’re stuck for at-home activities to promote children’s physical strength and skills, our children’s physios and occupational therapists are here to help. Tell us your dilemma in comments! 😊#keepsoaring
If you’re returning to running and looking to match or beat your current performance, or you're taking up running as part of your summer fitness routine, it pays to take precautions to prevent running-related injuries and conditions. Heed these safe running tips from SH physio Sandra.
1. Invest in your dress. Wear good, supportive running shoes. As the load is greater with running than jogging or walking, a shoe with good foot and ankle support is an investment in prevention of pain and potential injuries (e.g. sprained ankle).
2. Warm up. Before your run, do 5 minutes of dynamic stretching and a 5 to 10-minute walk.
3. Ease into it. If you’re new to running, build up slowly. Start with incremental running (60 to 90 seconds running, 60 seconds walking) and gradually increase running periods to match your endurance.
4. Find a rhythm. To help with consistent pacing, focus on your breathing and find or create a running playlist.
5. Cool down. Don’t abruptly go from vigorous exercise to flopping on the couch. To aid recovery, end your run with a cool down walk and leg stretches.
You’ve heard of deskercise. Maybe you even entertained the idea before laughing it off? After all, what effective exercise can you really do in the confines of a cubicle or kitchen?
Enter the resistance band. This stretchy, go-anywhere apparatus is the perfect way to work muscles and joints even when time and/or space is limited. What’s more, it can help to offset the effects of desk life on your shoulders, back and posture. (Fight desk with desk!)
Here are 3 ideas to get started:
If you’re battling poor posture or back pain or don’t know which exercises to do for your health and fitness goals, a physio can help. Feel free to ask any questions in comments! 😊#keepsoaring