Exercises for people short of time – as little as three minutes a day is enough
More than a billion people are at risk of killer diseases because they don’t exercise enough. Don’t become one of them
New research from the World Health Organisation (WHO) could have many people cancelling their Netflix subscription. The United Nations body reported that around 1.4 billion adults are not physically active enough, and their inactivity is damaging their physical and mental health.
People in wealthy countries are the worst offenders, with the research showing one in three women and one in four men not taking enough exercise or moving about enough – too often sitting at desks all day at work, in front of the TV in the evening and travelling by car.
The results, published in the Lancet Global Health journal, puts the worst offenders at greater risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and some cancers.
The WHO recommends that the minimum exercise needed is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week. That could be anything from doing chores about the house and gardening to cycling or exercising in the gym.
But for Hongkongers who are time-pressed, or just plain lazy, there is still hope. Here are five simple workouts ideal for those who are strapped for time or inactive, yet still want to improve their fitness and maintain a healthy body weight.
1. The three-minute morning workout
You don’t need any special equipment, or even a lot of space. All you have to do is wake up, roll out of bed, and dive straight in.
First minute: 15 seconds of squats, 15 seconds push-ups, 15 seconds leg raise holds, 15 seconds high knees.
Second minute: 30 seconds squats, 30 seconds push-ups.
Third minute: 30 seconds leg raise holds, 30 seconds high knees.
Even for those of you who are experienced trainers, it can complement an already productive workout routine, helping kick-start your body’s metabolism each day, allowing you to burn more body fat.
2. The seven-minute workout
Use a seven-minute workout app to guide you through the exercises. The concept behind this workout is interval training – short, intense periods of exercise broken up by brief periods of rest.
It consists of 72 different exercises like jumping jacks, sit-ups, and push-ups. You can do them all in the comfort of your own home, and 10 are what are called body weight exercices that require no equipment (you’ll need a chair that can support your weight for the others).
The approach is less time-consuming than a traditional workout, but studies suggest it may actually be more beneficial for building muscle and protecting the heart.
3. The 10-minute workout
There are five categories to this workout, with a variety of exercises incorporated into each one. Slowly build a workout routine that fits in with your lifestyle.
If you do one exercise from each of the five categories below, and three sets of 10 reps, it should take between seven to 10 minutes.
Mobility and breathing: stand straight and breathing, round and arch, opposing reach, reach for the sky and down to the floor, and reach over exercises.
Upper body: push-up, triceps dip, and back extension exercises.
Lower body: squat, lunge and bridge exercises.
Core and stability: plank and abdominal crunch exercises.
Aerobic and anaerobic: burpee, knees-up and squat jump exercises.
It may lead to some strange looks from your work colleagues, but these simple exercises can be done at your desk, like a kind of office yoga, while others can be carried out as you go to and from work.
The basic exercises at your seat range from reaching for the stars, looking around, shrugging, reaching and bending, and knee presses or raises.
Away from your desk there are other ways of burning calories such as parking farther away, taking the stairs, standing up regularly, taking a walk break or walk and talk.
All are a better idea than just sitting there.
5. Buy a dog to keep you active
As you get older it’s natural that your body can’t do as much or you lose the motivation to exercise.
One way to get around this is to buy a dog. According to a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health, owning a dog can help older adults meet physical activity levels recommended by the WHO.
Researchers found that dog owners, particularly those aged 65 and over, spent on average an additional 22 minutes walking, taking an extra 2,760 steps per day when compared to people who didn’t own a dog.
The researchers also found that dog owners had fewer sedentary events – continuous periods of sitting down – than non-dog owners.