Quick Exercises for Busy People
Life can feel like one long hectic mess sometimes.
The days just come and go and you feel like you have less and less time for yourself. Doubly so if you take on more responsibility in work, raise and care for your family, or both. So, its impossible for you to fit a new exercise routine into your day, right?
Well we don’t think so! In today’s blog, we’re going to show you some simple 15-20 minute workouts that you can easily slide into your daily routine. Some of these quick exercises can even be done in the office!
So, get into your exercise gear – which needn’t cost an arm and a leg, any comfortable, loose clothing will do – and let’s begin with a warm up.
For many who begin exercising, warming up can seem pointless or an excuse to waste time during an expensive gym session, but it plays an important role in your routine and your exercise safety.
Like the name suggests, warming up with small, low energy exercise warms up the body. Your muscles loosen so they can stretch farther, your blood vessels widen so blood can travel around the body faster and you prepare yourself mentally by focusing on the task ahead. Exercising on stiff, weak muscles by skipping a warm up can lead to them tearing, causing a lasting injury which can stop you from exercising at all.
We recommend this 5-minute warm up routine designed by the NHS, as it has quick exercises to warm up every part of the body:
March on the Spot – 2 minutes 30 seconds: Start your warm up by marching on the spot, occasionally marching a few steps forward and backward. Pump your arms up and down in rhythm with your steps with your elbows bent and your fists softly clenched.
Heel Digs – 60 seconds: Place alternating heels to the front, keep the front foot pointing up and punch out with both arms with each dig. Use the back leg to support yourself by keeping it slightly bent. It is recommended that you aim to do 60 heel digs.
Knee Lifts – 30 seconds: Stand tall, straight and tighten your front, then bring up alternating knees to touch the opposite hand (left knee to right hand, right knee to left hand). Use the back leg to support yourself by keeping it slightly bent. It is recommended that you aim to do 30 knee lifts.
Shoulder Rolls – 30 seconds: Resume marching on the spot and roll your shoulders, five times forwards and five times backwards with your arms hanging loose by your sides. Do 10 rolls, take a 10 second break still marching, then do 10 more rolls.
Knee Bends – 30 seconds: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your arms and hands stretched out. Lower yourself around 10cm bending your knees (imagine sitting down on a high stool) then come up and repeat. Do no more than 10 bends, counting to three between each one.
With all your muscles now warmed up, ready and at less risk of injury, the workout can begin.
Getting to the main event, there’s so much more to regular exercise than just losing weight, getting fit and improving how your body works. It also has many surprising effects on the mind. The hormones and endorphins released during exercise are known to promote happiness and relieve feelings linked to depression. It also helps improve your brain health and memory, as exercise drives blood, oxygen and hormones to the brain, enhancing the growthy of brain cells. You really do get a “whole body” exercise.
As we mentioned in Exercise and Healthy Living: A Beginner’s Guide, it is best to stick to exercises you enjoy, so don’t think that you have to follow these quick exercises to the letter. Here are two 10-minute workout routines, one for beginners and one for those looking for a challenge, that you can mix and match. Try both then find a routine you’re comfortable with, just remember to put in 10-30 second rests between exercises so you don’t wear out or collapse.
A Beginner-Friendly Total-Body Workout (from self.com)
5 Push-Ups: Place your hands underneath your shoulders, arms fully extended with palms flat and fingers facing forward. Keep your legs straight and knees off the floor. Bending the arms at the elbows, lower your chest until it’s either 5cm off the ground (use an apple or orange placed below the chest to help measure this) or your elbows reach a 90-degree bend. Push back up and repeat. Keep your back and legs straight at all times.
10 Squats: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with your toes pointed out slightly and have your arms and hands straight out ahead of you. While keeping your back and shoulders straight, push your butt back and begin to squat down, keeping your knees in line with your feet. Push down until your hips dip below your knees, then rise and repeat.
16 Plank Taps: Assume the elevated push-up position and alternate touching your shoulder with the opposite hand (right hand to left shoulder, left hand to right shoulder).
20 Jumping Jacks: Stand with your legs straight and arms by your sides. On the first jump, spread your feet beyond the width of your hips and bring your arms over your head, having them almost meet. On the second jump, return to the starting position and repeat.
Rest for 45 seconds and repeat the entire workout as many times as you can in 10 minutes.
Don’t feel bad if you need to take your time with the exercises or need to take longer rests. You are still getting used to exercising. If you’re up for a bit more of a challenge, let’s go through the second routine.
Torch Fat Fast: The 10-Minute Plyometric Workout (from fitnessmagazine.com):
Plie Squat Jump – 45 seconds: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with toes pointed out. Drop into a squat with hands clasped in front of your chest. From this position, jump as high as you can, tap your heels together and land with your knees slightly bent so you can squat again. Repeat.
One–Legged Dead Lift Hop – 60 seconds: Stand on your left leg, lift your right knee to hip height and raise your arms with elbows bent, making a large “U” shape. Keeping your back and left leg straight, lean forward and throw your right leg back, straightening it. Reverse the motion, jumping with the left leg back into the starting position with the right leg raised. Repeat for 30 seconds, switch sides (left knee bent, right leg straight) and repeat for another 30 seconds.
Double Jump – 45 seconds: Assume the squatting position with your hands together in straight in front of you. Jump as high as you can and land with your left leg forward and your right leg back, both bent at the knee at 90 degrees. Jump again and land in the squat position. Repeat these steps again swapping your legs (right leg forward, left leg back) and keep alternating.
Lateral Lunge – 45 seconds: Step your left leg out, bending the left knee while keeping your right leg straight. Lean forward and keep your back straight as you touch your right hand to the floor between your feet and place your left hand on top of your left thigh. Pushing off your left heel, shuffle right two times and mirror the lunge with your right side. Shuffle back and keep alternating sides.
Pop-Up – 45 seconds: Assume the push-up position but starting on the floor. Do a push-up and use the upward momentum to jump up, throwing your left foot between your hands then quickly standing up into a squat position. Raise your hands to your chest keeping your palms flat. Reverse the motion to lie down again and repeat the exercise, alternating which leg is thrown forward.
Plank-Straddle Hop – 30 to 45 seconds: Assume the push-up position on the floor but start with your feet hip width apart and allow your elbows to touch the ground under your shoulders, palms flat on the floor. Hop your feet out to the sides to form a wide “V” shape, then return to the start position. Then, straighten your arms, pressing your arms into the floor before returning to the start position. Repeat the exercise from the beginning.
You should be able to repeat this workout twice in 10 minutes, but don’t worry if you can’t.
These exercises can be pretty intense for a first-timer, but if you begin introducing them to a lighter workout routine over time, it will give you a good idea of how far you can push yourself. Now let’s cool down.
Much like warming up, it can be tempting to skip cooling down to save time, but it is still important to the routine.
If you suddenly stop exercising, your muscles will contract too quickly, fatigue will set in and you will ache far worse than you would’ve had you cooled down. This can be especially bad if you choose to exercise in the morning, as it will leave you too tired to deal with the rest of your day.
Here are just some of the 20 second cool-down stretches you can do from spotebi.com. Cooling down can take anything between 2-5 minutes:
Ab Stretch: Lie down and lift your chest with your arms, keeping your palms flat and curving your back.
Cat and Cow Stretch (20 seconds each): Kneel down on your flat palms and knees. Curve your back down for the cat position and push it up for the cow position.
Lower Back Stretch: Lie on your back and bring both knees up to your chest, using your hands to hold your legs in place.
Standing Forward Bend: Stand straight then bend down over yourself completely. Hold your ankles to stay in this position.
Quad Stretch: Bend up your leg at the knee and hold your foot to keep it in place. Swap legs and hold for another 20 seconds.
Shoulder Stretch: Stretch out your arm, turning your hand to sit vertically. Put your arm across your chest and hold it in place with your other hand. Swap arms and hold for another 20 seconds.
Bicep Stretch: Form fists with your hands and stand straight with your arms slightly behind you. Bend your body forward 90 degrees and throw your arms up in a clockwise motion, holding them in the air.
Child’s Pose: Adopt the “foetal position” while stretching your arms out ahead of you and hold.
Do as many of these as you need, but don’t worry if you find some of them difficult.
The UK Government recommends people do 150 minutes of exercise a week.
However, keeping up with any amount of exercise, no matter how small, goes a long way towards helping you live a better, healthier life. We’ve got more exercise advice coming your way this month, as well as our continuing offer of three months free gym membership if you set up a new insurance policy in January.
If you’re a young, busy professional, we recommend looking into Level-Term Life Insurance. This will pay out a fixed amount to your loved ones no matter when the worst should happen. Click the button below for your free, no-obligation quote, then come back next week when we’ll be sharing our favourite lunchtime recipes and exercise advice for our friends over 50.