Week 14 – Work In Quick Workouts

Weights and fitness balls

I know that for some people an hour-long walk, run, or workout at the gym fits into their schedule and lifestyle in such a way that they can maintain that schedule for years. The daily workout is over and done, checked off the list, and not thought about again until the next morning.

For me, though, it just doesn’t work. Most of year, I rise at about 5:30 am (the alarm goes off at 5:20) and have to be out the door at 6:55. This gives me enough time for my daily Bible and prayer time, a brief 20 minute workout (if I’ve been disciplined enough to get moving right away), a shower,pack a healthy lunch preparation, and breakfast. I have no interest in getting up any earlier to fit in a longer walk/run/workout, and I find long workouts boring.

I also don’t believe our bodies were created for one hour of intense movement during 24 hours of mostly sedentary behavior. We were created to be on the move frequently, and when we aren’t moving a lot our muscles and joints stiffen and ache.

What is working for me is intermittent exercise throughout the day. This is what my current “schedule” looks like: before breakfast I do a quick one minute (or so) upper body workout with a weighted fitness ball and then hit the treadmill where I either do intervals of walking and running/sprinting for about 12 minutes or I increase the incline dramatically and do my hill climbs. Then I do several stretches and start the rest of my day.

During the day I fit in short bursts of activity – I might grab a fitness ball again and bounce it off the chimney or the sidewalk or just do various raises with it or some hand weights. I might stop and do 12 – 20 jumping jacks, “sprint” in place, or run up the stairs. Sometimes I do a set of deep knee bends or inclined “pushups” against the kitchen counter, bookcase, or wall. I’m going to pick up a jump rope and a hula hoop for more outdoor options to have around.

I find the more variety I fit in during the day, the more I spontaneously “workout”. Moving feels great to me now, something I couldn’t say two years ago. The biggest challenge is remembering to get out of my chair (where I read, research, and blog) at least once every hour. When I get up to get a drink, use the facilities, or answer the phone (I now purposely leave it away from my chair) I often also stop and do one of my exercise bursts.

During the school year it is a little different. I can’t just start throwing an 8 pound fitness ball against the wall nor do jumping jacks at the front of my classroom (although it might not be a bad idea to start class that way with the kids – they could use the movement too.)  I still find there are “private” moments when my room is empty and I can do a few jumping jacks, incline push ups, or standing leg lifts. I can run up the stairs when I have to deliver something, walk very briskly down to the copy room, or do bicep curls with my book bag.

Now don’t misunderstand – I think there is also a place for longer workouts, but I prefer them to be rejuvenating and/or socializing times of geocaching hikes with family, kayaking down the river, or similar adventures. Will I be Olympic-athlete fit with this kind of workout, no, but I will be healthy, trim, and capable of bounding up the stairs.

How can you fit in periodic short bursts of energizing exercise?  If you are employed outside the home, try to think of times when you could be alone for one minute and rev your metabolism or strengthen some muscles. And if you are a mom taking care of your kids at home, this kind of workout is perfect; get your kids to join you for bursts of activity.

So, do you have any one minute exercise ideas?  Please share them in the comments below – a group brainstorming session would help us all out!

This is part 14 in the series 52 Weeks of Health. If you are just joining us please start at the beginning and slowly develop healthy habits.
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