Making fitness and healthy living a priority in your life can be difficult when you’re working a full-time job, shuttling your kids to and from school, and trying to get all the household activities done in a reasonable timeframe. When the busy season hits you, exercise is often placed at the end of your to-do list each day, but it doesn’t need to be. There are several quick exercises you can do between breaks throughout your day that will help you improve your productivity and make it easier to reach those fitness and physical activity goals you’ve set for yourself.
There are numerous benefits when you commit to regularly exercising throughout the week. Small, frequent breaks throughout the day where you can squeeze in some quick exercises can help you improve your mental state, recharge your batteries, and contribute to your fitness goals. Research has shown that when you take routine breaks throughout the day¹, you’re actively taking steps to improve your focus and productivity. Taking a few breaks throughout the day is always a great way for you to take a step back, refresh your mental state, and then get back to work. Periodic breaks throughout the day can not only help you improve your mental well-being and ability to focus, but it can also give you those critical moments throughout the day where you can squeeze in a bit of exercise to meet your goals. Even a few minutes a day can help individuals decrease some of the muscle tension they’ve been experiencing. Some of the key benefits that can be gained when you squeeze in some quick exercises during your breaks throughout the day include:
It might seem counterintuitive to say that you should take frequent breaks throughout the day to exercise, but taking a step back and focusing on something else for a few minutes at a time can help you increase your productivity . In the old days, the mindset was that we should all focus our efforts on completing our tasks as efficiently as possible by eliminating breaks and distractions. After elimination of all the breaks and distractions on our plate, the thought was that it would create hyper-focused sessions and periods of work.
Now, new research has shown that breaks throughout the day help individuals sustain heightened levels of productivity throughout the day instead of a slow burn that fades over time. Studies have shown that when you dedicate yourself to working an hour at a time and implement routine breaks, you can separate your workday into different intervals so it doesn’t feel like you’re climbing a mountain all at once. Instead, you’re chipping away at the task in intervals. Once you’ve created those breaks in your routine, adding quick exercises or short bouts of physical activity can help you increase your productivity by giving your body that jolt of energy it needs for the next hour or so of work. As you’re sitting at your desk or slogging your way through the task at hand, you might begin to get bored and find that your ability to focus and be productive during that period begins to decline. When you step away during a break and focus on something more engaging and active like a quick exercise, you’re helping your mind recharge the batteries it needs to be productive and focus on the tasks at hand.
Breaks can also help your creative juices flow a little bit better. We’ve all been in those scenarios where you can be working on a task and you just can’t come up with a creative solution to fix the problem at hand. Stepping away for 5 to 15 minutes and distracting your brain by doing some low impact exercises might be all it takes to get that creative spark you need to push through and find the solution you need. There are plenty of links between your mood and exercising as well. Using our example from earlier, if you find that you’re struggling to complete certain tasks or are having a rough day, squeezing in a quick exercise might be the thing you need to release some of those key endorphins to lift your spirits. In addition, exercises can help you feel a sense of accomplishment when you’re able to make meaningful progress on some of those fitness and physical activity goals you’ve set for yourself.
Exercise doesn’t just improve your mood when you’re at work though, as it can have significant benefits outside of work in your daily routine including reducing cases of depression, assisting with managing anxiety, and improving sleep routines. Another fantastic benefit that comes from adding quick exercises into your routine breaks is that they help you commit to achieving some of those fitness and physical activity goals you’ve set for yourself. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, less than five percent of adults gets their recommended daily exercise per day. If you’re finding it difficult to squeeze in a half-hour to an hour every single day or a few times a week to make it to your gym or perform some type of physical activity per week, adding some quick exercises throughout your day when you can find time can be a great substitute. Even if you do regularly work out, a quick exercise here and there on those extra busy days will help you meet those goals without making you feel like you’re slacking off.
Trying to figure out when you should perform some quick exercises is really easy once you start to look for little gaps in your daily schedule. For instance, you might be able to squeeze in an exercise before a meeting, during your lunch break, before and after work, or periodically throughout the day in regular intervals like we outlined above. In addition, there are going to be moments throughout your day where you had extra time and didn’t realize it. If you’re like the rest of us, you most likely still consume hours of entertainment per day even when you’re busy. Whether you’re watching your favorite television show, scrolling through social media, perusing websites and apps on your phone, or playing video games, you can squeeze in a quick exercise to get that blood pumping. Most individuals typically spend around 360 minutes per day consuming some form of entertainment each day. Instead of sitting through those commercial breaks as you watch your favorite show or listen to your favorite podcast, do some quick exercises to get the blood flowing. A great way to motivate yourself to perform some physical activity during those commercial breaks is to flip your mindset. Instead of thinking that you have to sit through those commercial breaks, think of them as an opportunity to exercise throughout the day in short intervals.
Now that we’ve highlighted the benefits of exercising throughout the day and pinpointed when you can incorporate them into your daily schedule, it’s time to get the body moving. Before beginning any type of physical activity, you should always consult with a medical professional such as a physical therapist who can work with you to determine your physical activity goals, abilities, and considerations that need to be made. Once you begin implementing exercises into your daily routine during your short breaks, make sure that you take it slow and build up your endurance and strength over time. It’s a marathon, not a sprint! If you feel pain, stop immediately and consult a healthcare professional. Here are some of the quick exercises you can implement during your daily breaks:
Chair Squats are a great way for you to get the blood moving by giving you an opportunity to get off the chair you’ve been sitting in for hours and moving a bit. To start, find a chair that will stand still and won’t roll away from you. Avoid chairs with any kind of wheels or rollers on them. To begin the exercise, stand up from the chair into a relaxed standing position. From there, lower yourself down and hover over the seat without touching it as if you were about to sit down but haven’t completed the maneuver. Hold this position for a second and stand back up. Repeat this process ten to twenty times. This exercise will help you activate some of those key muscle groups including your quads, hamstrings, core, glutes, and back. If you find that you’re struggling to maintain your balance, you can put your arms out in front of you to hold onto a counter if necessary.
Planks are a great way to help you activate some of those core muscles. To start, get into a pushup position. From there, transition to resting on your elbows instead of the palms of your hands. Once you’re in that position, try to hold the position for 10 to 30-second intervals. If you find that it’s too difficult to hold this position, you can make it easier by resting on your knees instead of the toes of your feet.
The next exercise you can try to squeeze into your daily routine is the wall sit. This quick exercise will definitely get the core and leg muscles activated. To begin, find a wall that you can safely lean against. From there, you want to lean your back against the wall, position your feet out from the wall about the distance of your thigh and slide down as far as you feel comfortable. The further you go down the harder it will be to hold, as well as stand up, so start small and progress over time. Hold the position for 30 seconds to a minute and then relax. Try to repeat this activity a few more times. When performing this exercise, you want to make sure that your knees don’t go past your toes.
One of the easier exercises on our list of quick exercises you can do between breaks is the calf raise. To do this exercise, simply stand up and give yourself some room. From there, you want to raise your heels off the floor by activating those calf muscles and then slowly lowering back down. Try to do four sets of 10 repetitions with 30 seconds to 1-minute breaks in between each set.
Shoulder shrugs are a great way to release some of that upper shoulder and neck tension that often develops throughout the day. To perform this quick exercise, you want to slowly raise both shoulders up towards your ears like you’re shrugging. Then slowly lower them to the starting position. Do this a few times in controlled and steady movements.
A great exercise that will help you build strength and tone those arm muscles is the tried and true push up. Pushups help you build those arm and core muscles through compound movements. To begin, start in a plank position resting on the palms of your hands and feet. Try to make sure that your arms are roughly shoulder-width apart and begin bending your arms to lower your chest to the floor. Avoid going too deep when lowering your body and begin to slowly push your body back into the starting plank position. Try to do three to four sets of 10 repetitions with 30 seconds to 1-minute breaks in between each set. If you find it difficult to complete the exercise, you can make this exercise easier by resting on your knees instead of your toes like the plank exercise we highlighted earlier. Another option would be to do these with your arms on a counter.
Another unique and fun way to incorporate a quick exercise into your daily routine is to get creative with some of your household or work items. For instance, you can use a water bottle as a free weight or dumbbell. You can perform simple exercises like a bicep curl or other traditional gym exercises with a full water bottle. You might be surprised how much of a workout you can get just by curling a full water bottle. Get creative with some of the other items around your house to build up resistance as you incorporate some of the exercises we’ve highlighted earlier. Consider using household items like gallon milk jugs, bags, stairs for stepping up, boxes for lifting, etc.
Implementing quick exercises into your routine is a simple and effective way of getting the blood flowing, working toward those physical activity goals you’ve set, and reaping some significant benefits along the way. If you’re ready to get started and want to know which exercises would be most beneficial to you throughout the day during those quick breaks, you should get in touch with one of our physical therapists. Our physical therapists will perform comprehensive evaluations and functional assessments that will help them create customized exercise and treatment programs that can help you safely build muscle and improve function over time. Contact Us Today to Schedule an Appointment!