Not enough hours in the day?

Here is how to fit in fitness

young man running
(Photos: Envato Elements)
For the average person, most of the day is divided into sleeping, working, or going to school. As a result, squeezing in exercise is a challenge, not to mention that paying for a gym membership may not be in the budget right now.اضافة اعلان

Despite the challenges, incorporating exercise into your routine benefits mental and physical health, and lucky for us, the guidelines for how frequently we need to be physically active are straightforward.

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans — a set of guidelines developed by the US using evidence-based research — exercise recommendations can be broken up into two parts: strength training and cardio. For strength training, it is recommended to engage in muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week and to include all major muscle groups (e.g., legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms). For cardio, it is recommended that adults engage in moderate-intensity physical activity for 150 minutes per week or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week, at a minimum.

Moderate-intensity exercises include brisk walks, slow-paced biking, or dancing. High-intensity activities include jogging, running, or jumping rope.

The guideline is pretty lenient and flexible, encouraging people to find a routine that works for them. Some might prefer to work out twice a day for 15 minutes five days a week, while others prefer 30 minutes once a day five days a week, or some variation between those.

Use this recommendation as your guideline.

Physical and mental benefits
Physical activity yields benefits for both physical and mental health in the short and long term.

In the short term, working out can help regulate blood pressure, and compounded with healthy eating, working out can help maintain a healthy weight. Mentally, physical activity can help balance brain chemistry and improve sleep.

Working out has also been linked to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression levels.

Long-term, exercise greatly reduces your risk of developing seriously debilitating health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers. For those with preexisting conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and others, physical activity can help them manage their condition and improve their overall quality of life.

Since exercise naturally strengthens muscles and improves bone strength, the risk of fractures, which usually occur as you age, is reduced alongside the risks of falling.

Lastly, physical activity helps improve longevity. According to the CDC, it was estimated that 110,000 deaths could have been prevented if adults above 40 increased their physical activity even by a small amount.

So, where do you start?
Since the requirements for physical activity are flexible, smaller intervals of working out spread out over the week are possible. These short bouts of physical activity are called mini workouts and can offer a solution to those who are short on time.
The way mini workouts work is by increasing the intensity to compensate for the reduced amount of time.
Mini workouts are not a new concept. One of their earliest mentions was in an article called “Fitting in Fitness,” published in 1998. This article shared ways to incorporate fitness easily and creatively into your daily life. Some of the more practical ways mentioned include taking the stairs instead of the elevator, unloading groceries one at a time to make more trips, and parking your car further away from a building to increase your steps.

While these simple steps work, there are more fun ways to incorporate physical fitness into your daily life. For example, taking up a new hobby such as dancing, golfing, or gardening can be an excellent way to improve physical fitness, especially for older people.

For those looking for a true mini workout, keep reading.

The way mini workouts work is by increasing the intensity to compensate for the reduced amount of time. It should be noted that since higher intensity exercises increase the demand on the body, so you should adequately warm up before exercising.

Mini workout exercises are divided into heart-lung fitness, strength, and flexibility. Heart-lung fitness is simply a cardio exercise that increases breathing and heart rate. The example provided is running 1.6km at a fast pace three times a week, but the activity can be divided into half in the morning and half in the evening.

Strength training can be your typical weightlifting; however, it can also be modified to fit time constraints. It is suggested that you use a lighter weight than you are used to and perform as many repetitions as possible within 30 seconds, the goal being one rep per second. Then rest 30 seconds before moving on to the next exercise, and in total, you should have 8–10 exercises that target all the major muscle groups.

The last category is flexibility. This consists of basic stretches of all major muscle groups and joints, which can be done in any setting, including work.

Some people have developed regimens dedicated to ensuring the entire body is well trained. Some regimens include high-intensity interval training, Tabata training, high-intensity circuit training, and metabolic training.

Do mini workouts work?
The main concern with mini workouts is whether they can provide the same health benefits as continuous workouts. Many studies have shown that exercises in short intervals of at least 10 minutes have similar health outcomes as continuous exercise. These findings can best be summarized by a review study that included 19 studies with over a thousand participants. It found that mini workouts and continuous workouts had similar health benefits on blood pressure and cardiorespiratory outcomes, as well as similar improvements on blood fat, blood glucose, and insulin levels.

Mini workouts also have the additional benefits of being easier to incorporate into your daily life, which may improve adherence to a fitness regimen. There are no real drawbacks to mini workouts.

However, it is important to note that the best benefits are seen when the minimum recommendations are exceeded.

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