You work hard to give your clients the best possible care. Often, though, that means your own needs and wellbeing get put on the backburner. Taking a few days off from working out turns into a week, which turns into a month, and before you know it, you can’t remember the last time you put on your running shoes.
When it comes to working out, a lot of high performers take an all-or-nothing approach. Either you put in two hours at the gym, or you do nothing.
Sound familiar? We are here to say: taking care of yourself need not be a chore. On those days when your normal routine seems impossible, just a little movement goes a long way.
How to Fit Small Doses of Exercise into Your Day
Let us disclaimer here: fitting in some longer stretches of activity has its benefits! The Center for Disease Control’s recommendation for adults is to get at least 150 minutes of cardio plus two strength training workouts. “That could be 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week…” their website says. “You can even break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day.”
You might have some weeks where you crush those minimum requirements. (Yes! Go you!)
This post is for when you have those other weeks (or months, or years). You know, the ones where you’re barely finding time to breathe, let alone exercise. These are the times when your routine may require a little bit of flexibility and your self may require a bit of… grace.
Per the CDC’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, “Even a single episode of physical activity provides temporary improvements in cognitive function and state anxiety.” So yes, that walk you took around the block at lunch counts! You have done something good for yourself (and by proxy, your family, your practice, your clients... you get the picture.)
For other ideas when you’re short on time but still want to get the benefits of a hardcore workout, read on:
- Go for a short jog
I mean, short. Top it out at 10 minutes max. A study from The Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that people who jogged 5 – 10 minutes a day, five days a week, had the same long-term health benefits as those who jogged 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
Wake your body up with a quick jog around the block in the morning, or bring your running shoes to the office to sneak in a quick jog between patients or after work.
Worried about getting sweaty? These Refreshing Wipes from Burt's Bees or these Cold Shower Wipes from Duke Cannon will get you back in client-facing shape in absolutely no time. Just remember to stay hydrated, as well!
- Push hard for three minutes
A study from The Journal of Physiology found that people who sprinted on a stationary bike for three minutes experienced the same muscle-cell adaptations as those who spent 90 to 120 minutes on the bike going at a more leisurely pace.
There you have it. When you’re crunched for time or just not feeling it, go all out.
- Do four minutes of HIIT
Another study from the Journal of Physiology found that doing just four minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) three times a week can have dramatic effects.
In three months, study participants had higher fitness levels, more regulated blood sugar, and lower liver fat than those who did nothing.
HIIT requires you to work to exertion, which is definitely doable when you only have to sweat for four minutes. Combine moves like sprinting in place, jump rope, burpees, push-ups, sit-ups, kettlebell swings, and squats. Work for 20 seconds, take a 10-second break, then go onto the next move.
Healthline presents a list of their favorite [free!] HIIT apps here. This helpful list of HIIT workouts from Women's Health provides plenty of inspiration. Youtube is also a goldmine for free HIIT workouts like this one. Or, follow an fitness pro on Instagram who specializes in short, accessible workouts (and positive body acceptance messages!) like Sugary Six Pack.
Remember: "A Few Minutes" Add Up
Exercise doesn’t have to mean putting in miles on the treadmill or carving up your day for spin class. That's a different topic. One for a fitness blog or health magazine. We are here posting today because making time to move is sometimes tough.
And— to be clear — this also isn't about "transforming your body." If that's the inspiration you need today, we'll let you get to it! But to us, you're perfect just as you are! (Need a little emotional boost? Please do yourself a solid and read this sweet article.). We just believe the research suggesting we are at our best cognitively and emotionally when we move our bodies, even a little.
Spending time in your garden, doing household chores, and playing basketball with your kids all count! So, focus on moving throughout the day — you’ll end up getting your heart rate up.
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