The benefits of exercise are obvious to many of us: increased quality of health, improved mood, increased metabolism, increased energy level and decrease in certain diseases. With all of the scientific and anecdotal evidence pointing to the reasons why we should exercise, why are so many people still sedentary?
Lack of time is one of the most commonly reported reasons for not exercising. But what if you could get great health benefits by carving out only 20 minutes a day for fitness? The following tips and suggestions will help you incorporate 20 minutes of exercise into your day and start feeling more energised.
1. Hill workout
Find a hill that is appropriate for your fitness level. Walk or run up and stop at the top. Do 10 push-ups, lunges, or squats (pick one). Beginners might want to simply pause at the top for a minute and then walk or run back down. Repeat 6-8 times (will depend onsize of the hill).
2. Pilates or yoga
Even on those mornings when you can't drag yourself out of bed or the evenings when all you want to do is flop down on the couch, a 20 minute Pilates or yoga routine might be just what you need to energise your body and mind. There are several online sources to stream Pilates and yoga workouts and many of them are set at 20 minutes.
3. Strength training circuit
Strength training is one of the most beneficial parts of a complete exercise programme. You can do an at-home programme with light dumbbells, resistance bands, exercise ball, kettle bells, or using poses that support and hold your own body weight.
4. Strength training circuit with cardio intervals
To get cardiovascular benefits from a strength training circuit, try adding a three-minute interval of aerobic activity after every five minutes of strength. Examples: jumping jacks, running or walking in place, high knees, mountain climbers, step ups on a box.
5. Walk, bicycle, swim or run
Twenty minutes a day of one single form of aerobic exercise is also a great way to fit fitness in.
Example of a 20-minute strength training circuit
Always warm up for three to five minutes with low-intensity aerobic activity before starting this routine. If you want to add a little extra to this routine, sprinkle in some three to five minute cardio intervals at the end of each round:
10 squats or up-downs (standing on your own or sit down in a chair and then rise back up)
10 push-ups (full for advanced, partial on your knees for intermediate, or wall push-ups for beginners)
10 triceps dips (use the edge of a chair, bathtub, or even the bed)
10 planks (full for intermediate/advanced and on knees for beginner)
Rest 30 seconds and repeat. Try to complete at least three rounds of this circuit.
An advanced body weight workout that can be done in less than 30 minutes
Repeat entire circuit five times:
Rest for 10 seconds
5 jump squats
10 alternating lunges
15 reverse crunches.
Sara Lindburg has a B.S. in Exercise Science and an M.Ed. in Counselling. A 41-year-old wife, mother, and full-time secondary school counsellor, she combines 20-plus years' experience in the fitness and counselling fields and she has found her passion in inspiring other women to be the best version of themselves on her Facebook page, FitMom. Her inspiration for writing comes from her 6-year-old son, Cooper, and 8-year-old daughter, Hanna. Follow Sara on twitter.