No time exercise routines

December 2012

If you think that getting in shape requires lots of time, a gym membership, a trainer, or special equipment, think again. The truth is that brief intervals of activity and a few lifestyle changes can add up to better health.

This is especially important if your job or lifestyle means that you spend a lot of time sitting each day. A recent review of 43 different health studies in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that spending too much time sitting can cause health problems such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

But a few simple tweaks to your usual habits can make you healthier and stronger right now.

Make your day more fit

Here are some simple ways to make exercise part of your day courtesy of The Mayo Clinic. Each one is a small step that, when done regularly, can reap big results.

Swap your desk chair for a fitness ball

Sitting on one of these large, inflatable balls helps build both your balance and your core — the muscles in your stomach, thighs, and lower back.

Look for chances to stand

Who says you have to sit when you're on the phone, eating lunch, or waiting for a web page to load? And when you need to talk to people you work with, walk to their desks instead of calling or e-mailing.

Get the most out of your commute

If possible, walk or ride a bike to work. If you take the bus, get off a few blocks early and walk to your destination.

Make errands a chance for exercise

Rather than searching for the closest spot, park your car farther away so you have to walk a bit. Also, skip the elevator and take the stairs.

Work out in your work area

Store fitness bands or small hand weights in your desk. Then use them to do arm curls or stretches between tasks or while talking on the phone.

One-minute workouts

Even a 60-second burst of exercise can get your heart beating in the "cardio zone," says Kelli Calabrese, an exercise physiologist from the American Council on Exercise. Over time, this makes your heart stronger and healthier. Of course, the more 60-second bursts you can work into your day the better, but even one or two make a difference. Here are some suggestions. In 60 seconds…

  • Do as many jumping jacks as you can! You may tire easily at first, but with practice a minute of these moves will fly by.
  • Lift your knees high and march. When that feels easy, bump it up to running in place.
  • While sitting in a chair, pump both your arms over your head for 30 seconds. Then quickly tap your feet on the floor as if you're doing a football running drill for 30 seconds.
  • Have a mini boxing match with an invisible partner for one minute.
  • Get up and walk as fast as you can for, even if it's just around your office or in the hallway.

One-minute strength and stretching exercises

Brief intervals of activity and small lifestyle changes can add up to better health.

These moves build strength, get your blood moving, and send stress packing.

  1. Leg strengthener. Sitting in a chair with feet flat on the floor, lift one leg until it’s straight. Hold for two seconds. Then, lower your foot to just above the floor and pause for two seconds. Switch legs and repeat. Do this 15 times total.
  2. Chest and shoulders. Put both hands on your chair arms and slowly lift your bottom off the seat. Lower yourself back down, but hold yourself just above the chair for a few seconds. Do this 15 times.
  3. Desk push-ups. First, make sure your desk is solid enough. Then, stand up, put your hands on the desk with fingers facing forward and walk your legs backward so you’re in a push up position. Do as many push ups as you can in a minute.
  4. Reach for the sky. Sit tall in your chair. Stretch both arms over your head and reach up. After 10 seconds, extend the right hand higher, then the left. Repeat six times.
  5. Neck stretch. Let your head gently roll over so your right ear almost touches your right shoulder. Using your right hand, gently press your head a little lower. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax and then repeat on the other side. Do a total of three times per side.
  6. Yoga stress relief. Sit facing forward and turn your head to the left and your torso to the right. Hold for two to four seconds. Switch sides. Repeat 15 times, changing sides.
  7. Shoulder stretch. Sit up straight, and try to touch your shoulder blades together. Hold, and then relax. Repeat as many times as you can in one minute.
  8. Lower back & leg stretch. Push your chair away from your desk and, while seated, put your right heel on the desk. Sit up straight, flex your foot and bend forward until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your leg. After five seconds, point your foot. Repeat on the other leg.

If you have any health problems or concerns, see your doctor before trying these exercises.

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