In titling my latest post “Give Yourself a Fitness Break,” I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking. Unfortunately, dear readers, I’m not giving you permission to take a break from working out. Au contraire! I’m encouraging you to be more active by adding small bouts of fitness into your day. It’s a fantastic way to stay active no matter how busy you; more so if you typically can’t make time for long workouts.
Fitness breaks are easy to manage and offer lots of flexibility. The concept is simple: break up your workout into 10- to 20-minute segments, and spread them throughout your day. For example:
- Try waking up 10-15 minutes earlier for a quick core workout, or do it while you watch breakfast television.
- Go for a 20- to 30-minute walk at lunch time (on your own, with a friend or with a group of colleagues).
- Before dinner, try doing some more cardio work (e.g., short jog, jump rope) or a combination of old-school favourites like jumping jacks, shuffles, high knee runs, etc. Or, do some more strength training, like push-ups, squats and lunges. You can alternate cardio and strength training every other day.
- At bedtime, wind down with some stretches. Take the time to hold them for 30-60 seconds, to improve flexibility. Start with your legs, hips, back, chest, and shoulders. Gently loosen your neck, nodding side to side, then hold a stretch for a few seconds by tilting your neck to one side while delicately pulling down on your head. Take a few moments to rotate your wrists and stretch out your fingers, hands and forearms, especially if you spend a good chunk of your day at a keyboard. Do these on your own or get your partner to assist you for deeper stretches.
- End your day with a little meditation and relaxation to clear your mind, so you can go to bed calm and relaxed. You will sleep sooo much better. Make yourself comfortable in a quiet place, play some soft music if you wish; close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths and just let go. Release all tension from your body and all thoughts from your mind. You want to completely relax by finding a few moments of calm, stillness and quiet for your body and mind. It takes a little practice to fully let go and clear the mind and on some days it will be more difficult than on others — but those are the days you likely need it the most. Try not to fall asleep during this time; it’s OK if you do, but it’s not ideal. If you think you might fall asleep, then be sure to start your relaxation in your bedroom, otherwise you’ll have to get back up, possibly move around quite a bit and risk getting distracted by life and, before you know it, you will be wide awake and unable to sleep. It’s not a nice experience and it can quickly turn into a stressful “I can’t sleep” night. (Trust me, I’ve been there.)
Hopefully these examples will inspire you to incorporate regular fitness breaks into your daily grind. It’s up to you to choose activities you enjoy and to find the best times to mix them into your busy schedule. Next week, we’ll look at more ideas for fitness breaks to help you stay fit.
Katya Mohsen is a personal trainer with over 10 years of experience in fitness and sports training. Catch her practical fitness advice Thursdays on Slice.ca.