With the lazy days of summer firmly in the rearview mirror and the promise of shorter days ahead, having a quick and efficient go-to fitness routine can be a sanity saver as we move into the faster pace of fall. Better yet is a fitness habit you can easily slip into on a whim at home — no space-hogging gym equipment or floor space of grand proportion necessary.
A plethora of studies have validated the effectiveness of short workouts — they improve flexibility, build strength and benefit your overall fitness when you keep at 'em on the regular. But consistency is key, so turning your bursts of fitness into a repeatable habit is ideal. If you can tie your micro-workouts to other consistent moments in your daily routine, you're on your way to a more fit fall, minutes at a time.
The first step is identifying where in your day you have a few empty minutes you can spend moving around a bit. Then check out each of these mini-workouts and keep one bookmarked for tomorrow: Whether you've got 5 minutes to spare when your coffee is brewing in the morning, or 10 when you return home from work while dinner simmers, make a plan to use that idle time to get moving.
All this workout takes is 5 short minutes of simple moves most of us learned in elementary school physical education, like jumping jacks and push-ups. You don't even need an instructional video or images to follow this routine.
This 5-minute workout developed by an orthopedic surgeon comprises a series of simple moves you bust out one after another in a short period. Acknowledging the best time to workout is "whenever it best fits into your schedule," Dr. Kleigman suggests there are advantages to getting this one in first thing in the morning, noting that it's "the equivalent of adding an extra shot of espresso to your coffee." It's a short routine with a long list of benefits including a fired up metabolism and increases in energy, mental focus and productivity to carry you through your work day.
Canadian fitness coach Dave Smith has coined the fitness concept of "What you can, When You Can," and developed a series of short, guided fitness routines you can do in your living room by following along on YouTube.
This workout looks like a choose-your-own-adventure book: Choose one move from each of four categories targeting different areas from cardio to upper body, then give it your all for 30 seconds per move with a rest between. Repeat for three rounds, and you're done with the whole routine in 12 minutes.
Check out Brett Larson's 10-minute yoga flow for unwinding at the end of your day — also a great alternative to an evening run if it's too dark or cold outside. It may not be the cardio equivalent you crave, but stretching out will get your circulation moving and go a long way to undoing the stiffness you feel from being stuck at your desk all day.
What's your favorite way to squeeze in a few minutes of exercise during your day?