One of the most common excuses for skipping a workout is, of course, a busy schedule. During busy days, it's not always easy to find time to drive to the gym or meet with a trainer. But that doesn't have to stop you.
"You don't need to be at the gym to get an incredible workout. People of all ages and fitness levels can fit in a workout at home or outdoors, and modify workouts to meet their fitness level and ability," says Josh Davidson, PT, DPT, outpatient therapy supervisor with Bryn Mawr Rehab Outpatient Network.
As holidays and vacations begin to fill up your schedule, now is the time to make a plan for the days when you need a quick workout. Below, Davidson offers his tips for beginners, runners, non-runners and others. The only equipment you'll need is sneakers!
Fitness challenge for beginners
If you're not a fitness buff, you can still get an effective workout—and improve your health—by walking.
Walk at a brisk pace and, every minute, do 10 squats and 10 push-ups. If you have a hill nearby or can program a treadmill on an incline, walk up the hill then complete 10 push-ups. Go back down the hill, and repeat this as many times as your fitness level will allow. Remember, you can modify the level of difficulty for the push-ups by dropping your knees to the ground or doing a push-up from an elevated surface, such as a park bench, picnic table or tree trunk.
Fitness challenge for runners
There is no shortage of holiday fun runs and 5Ks to participate in and, while these can be a great way to squeeze in a workout, you can also challenge yourself with a routine that incorporates body weight training into your run.
If you're crunched for time, commit to running one mile. After each minute during your mile, stop and perform 10 squats before beginning to run again. You can also try this routine with 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups or 10 squats. Once you're comfortable with doing these exercises every mile, try running multiple miles and repeat the pattern every quarter to half mile.
Fitness challenge for non-runners
You don't need to be a runner to reap the benefits of a good workout. If running isn't your exercise of choice, try some of these alternatives that use your body weight for an effective workout:
Complete five rounds of 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups and 10 squats. If you exercise more frequently, try 10 rounds. If necessary, modify these exercises. Push-ups can be modified by placing your hands on an elevated surface or doing push-ups on your hands and knees. Instead of sit-ups, you can also substitute mini-crunches, leg lifts or planks held for 30 seconds each.
Another option? Burpees. The exercise harkens back to "squat thrusts" from grade school gym class, but adds a push-up in the middle, too. If burpees are new to you, here's what to do:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Push your hips back, bend your knees and lower your body into a squat
- Place your hands on the floor in front of you, just in front of your feet
- Jump your feet back, so that you land on the balls of your feet in a plank position
- Lower your chest until you are flat on the ground (the bottom of a push-up)
- Jump back into the deep squat position, so that your hands are just in front and outside of your feet
- Jump into the air and clap your hands above your head
- When you land, immediately repeat the same pattern
If this seems a little confusing, you can check out YouTube videos like this one that demonstrate a burpee in action. Challenge yourself to complete as many as you can without stopping, but don't push yourself to pain or injury. If you need to take a break or stop after only a few, that's okay, too. And always remember to breathe through the exercise.
Fitness challenge for advanced athletes
If burpees are part of your regular workout routine, you can still challenge yourself. Once you're comfortable with 10 burpees, try adding in squats, too.
Start with 10 burpees, then 10 squats. Next, try nine burpees, then nine squats. Continue with this pattern until you're down to just one burpee and squat each. In total, this routine will be 55 reps of each exercise.
For an even harder workout, run a fast quarter mile, and then do 25 burpees. Repeat this four times for a total of one mile running and 100 burpees.
Remember: do what you can!
These are just a few examples of quick and effective workouts to use during a busy day but remember that there are no limits or rules to what you can do. Alternating between cardiovascular exercise and resistance exercise is an excellent way to improve your endurance and strength without needing any equipment or needing to be trapped inside of a gym.
Of course, before you begin any workout routine, you should talk to your doctor about what type and level of exercise is right for you. Don't begin a new workout routine without talking to your doctor.
Main Line Health serves patients at hospitals and health centers throughout the western suburbs of Philadelphia. To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.