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?
Well, it seems the age-old excuse of: “I’m too busy,” tops the list of reasons why people choose to keep their workout clothes in the gym bag instead of throwing them on after work. Schedules are busy, I get it, but if something is a priority, you will make time for it, right? Not necessarily, and when you consider that 80 percent of adult Americans do not get the recommended amounts of exercise each week, it’s easy to see how we are not making our health a priority.
Very often, people will say working out is the easy part—it’s setting aside the time so you will actually show up, that most of us struggle with. But, what you really need to be asking yourself is: Do you want to make time? Do you have the desire to say “no” to the things that will interfere with your health? And are you ready to be honest with yourself about where you are and where you want to go?
What if you could get great health benefits by carving out only 20 minutes per day for fitness? There are countless time-saving strategies to help incorporate exercise into your day, without dealing with the dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out). The following tips and workouts take away the guess work and show you how easy it is to get 20 minutes of exercise into your day.
Find a hill that is appropriate for your fitness level. Shorter, moderately steep hills are appropriate for beginners and intermediates, while longer (and steeper) hills are better suited for advanced levels. Walk or run up to the top of the hill and stop. Do 10 push-ups, lunges, or squats (pick one). Beginners might want to simply pause at the top for a minute after completing their set of 10, and then walk or run back down. Repeat 6-8 times, choosing a different exercise (push-ups, lunges, or squats) each time.
Even on the 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 energize your body and mind. There are several online sources to stream pilates and yoga workouts and many of them are set at 20 minutes.
Strength training is one of the most beneficial parts of a complete exercise program. You can do an at-home program with light dumbbells, resistance bands, exercise ball, kettlebells or using poses that support and hold your own body weight.
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, and step-ups on a box.
Twenty minutes per day of one single form of aerobic exercise is also a great way to fit fitness in and with the exception of swimming, all of these can be done at or close to home.
Always warm-up for three to five minutes with low-intensity aerobic activity prior to 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 Bridges
- 10 Crunches
- 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.
Advanced bodyweight workout that can be done in less than 30 minutes.
*Repeat entire circuit five times
- 5 Push-ups
- 10 Sit-ups
- 15 Squats
*Rest for 10 seconds
- 5 Jump Squats
- 10 Alternating Lunges
- 15 Reverse Crunches
Image: Dave Rosenblum, CC-BY
Sara Lindberg is a freelance writer specializing in health, fitness, and wellness.