“I have no time” has always been a persistent complaint for many working adults. How many times have we heard a family member, friend – or even ourselves say: “I have no time to eat.”; “I have no time to sleep.”; “I have no time to exercise.”? However, to lead a happy and healthy lifestyle, we do need to make time for exercise as it keeps our minds alert, makes us less lethargic, and gives us energy to do more for the rest of the day.
In our second of three articles on healthy living, we break down exercising into 10-minute chunks to give you five 10-minute exercise hacks that you can incorporate easily into your daily routine. You can still get almost an hour’s worth of workout done during the day without even stepping into a gym! Ready? Set. Go!
1. Wake up your body with a series of stretches
You can start exercising the minute you wake up, whilst still lying in bed. Gently wake your body up by doing simple stretches to improve circulation and relieve tension.
While in a supine position (lying horizontally with the face and torso facing up), start your stretch from the bottom (feet) to the top (head):
- Ankle Rotations: Do this exercise one at a time or with both ankles at the same time. Flex your feet at 90 degrees (perpendicular to your leg) and rotate your ankles in a clockwise for a few seconds then in a counter-clockwise motion.
- Leg Lifts: Lie on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the bed. Flex your feet at 90 degrees (perpendicular to the leg). Extend one leg straight up from the hip, knee straight but not locked, and pull it gently towards your body as far as you can go. Feel the stretch on the hamstrings.
- Knee Hugs: Lie on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the bed. Bring one (or both) knees to a 90 degree angle (perpendicular to the bed) and pull it slowly towards your chest as far as you can go.
- Wrist Rotations: Do this exercise one at a time or with both wrists at the same time. Rotate your wrists in a clockwise for a few seconds then in a counter-clockwise motion.
Gently sit yourself up in the middle of your bed, and continue with the following exercises:
- Arm Rotations: Spread your arms on the side, parallel to the floor. Rotate your arms from the shoulders forward 10 times; and then rotate backwards 10 times.
- Side-stretch: Raise both arms straight above your head and bend to one side while keeping your body front-facing.
- Neck Rotations: Bend your neck forwards, roll it to the right, to the back, to the left and front again. Do this for 10-20 seconds and rotate the neck the other way.
These exercises should not take more than 10 minutes. When you are done with them, hop out of the bed, brush your teeth and prepare yourself some breakfast or get ready to leave the house. Feel energized yet? You are now ready to start your day!
2. Skip the bus
Your next 10-minute opportunity to exercise starts when you step out of your house. If you are taking public transportation, and normally ride the bus to reach the MRT, try walking all the way to the MRT; If you are 1-2 bus stops away, that will be roughly a 10-minute walk. If you take the bus all the way to work, alight 1-2 stops before your destination and walk the rest of the way. If you are driving, don’t worry about parking at a carpark that is not directly inside your office building.
The intention is to walk for at least 10 minutes every day to give your heart and lung muscles a workout so that they grow stronger. Walking also helps you regulate breathing, gives you a refreshed state of mind, and reduces stress. With so many benefits of walking, it’s time to start now!
To make walking fun, you can get a pedometer from Aibi at Causeway Point to track the number of steps you walk every day, and enrol your friends into a walking challenge. Having a group of friends who walk together with you also serves as a good motivation to keep walking.
Also, it’s also important to invest in a comfortable pair of walking shoes! You do not want to stop walking because of the blisters on your feet, do you? You can easily carry your office shoes and change into them when you reach work. Check out Dr. Kong at Causeway Point for their wide selection of comfortable and trendy walking shoes to kick-start your healthy lifestyle!
3. Skip the lift
Now that you have reached your office, congrats! You have another opportunity of a 10-minute workout. Besides being thankful for the (hopefully) great view from your office on the 15th floor, you can also be thankful for the 15 flights of steps that can give you the cardio you did not know you were lacking!
Did you know that you can climb a 40-storey building leisurely, in 10 minutes? And that 10 minutes of walking up and down the stairs a day is roughly 110 calories burned, while 10 minutes of running up and down the stairs almost doubles the calories burned to 190.
Climbing stairs requires vigorous and continuous movement of your legs and hips, which results in deeper breathing and increases your heartbeat. This enhances blood flow to all areas of your body, and burns more calories than walking on a flat surface.
Who knew you can even workout while wearing your office clothes? Staying fit and healthy has never been so convenient!
4. Workout at your desk
Now, say that you’ve just finished replying to emails; have been to at least one meeting; have crossed 2 other things on your list, and it’s only 10.30am. Skip the coffee and use this time for a quick workout! It’s advisable to take a 5 or 10-minute break every 60-90 minutes to do some simple exercises, as this helps to increase your overall productivity, decrease stress, and promote a sense of well-being.
Starting from the top, let’s work our way down to the bottom. You can do all of these exercises in a seated position.
- Neck Flexion (Lateral): While looking forward, tilt your neck to the left and then to the right 10 times, such that your ear is close to your shoulders. Each time, hold the stretch between 10 and 30 seconds. Feel the stretch between the neck and the shoulders.
- Neck Flexion (Forward): Bend your neck forward 10 times, each time holding between 10 and 30 seconds. Feel the stretch between your neck and your back.
- Shoulder Rotation: Rotate your shoulders forward 10 times; and then rotate your shoulders backwards 10 times. Feel the stretch on your shoulders and back.
- Leg Crossover Stretch: While sitting, cross one leg over another, turn your torso to the direction of the crossed leg, and hold the position for 15-30 seconds. For example, if you are crossing your right leg over your left, turn your torso towards the right. Repeat this with the other side, and hold the position for 15-30 seconds. Do 2 sets with 5 repetitions on each side. Feel the stretch on your upper back leading to the waist.
- Leg Kicks: While sitting, extend and kick out one leg in front of you 20 times. Repeat this for the other leg. Feel the stretch on the back of thigh and the knee.
- Leg Lifts: While sitting, extend one leg and keep it elevated for about 5 seconds. Do this 20 times. Repeat this with the other leg. To add to the challenge, try making 20 circles with your extended feet in the same direction. Repeat this in the reverse direction, and do it with the other leg. Feel the stretch on your calves and hamstrings.
- Calf Raises: Sit with back straight, shoulders squared, and lift your heels from the ground, and contract your calves. Your toes can be pointing forward or sideways. Do 2 sets of 10 each. Feel the stretch between the calves and the heel area.
If you work from home (lucky you!) and happen to have an exercise / stability ball, trade it for your regular chair for 10 mins to improve stability and balance. Sitting on it constantly engages the core abdominal muscles; and stronger ab muscles protect the lower back and promote better posture.
5. Workout while waiting
If you’re pressed for time, you can also exercise whilst waiting for an elevator, your next meeting, or the bus or train. Don’t waste your waiting time – you can do some easy abs exercises to strengthen your core! Simply stand with your feet parallel and your knees relaxed. Contract the muscles around your belly button. Then elevate your upper torso, and release. Finally, contract your buttocks for a few seconds. There, you have just worked out your body! You can even do this while on coffee break – your colleagues will never know!
These 5 exercise hacks are not difficult, but it requires a commitment on your side to do them. Also, it should not replace your weekly cardio, but serves as your supplement to them. Be committed to have a fit and healthy body, for happy and healthy people sparkle!
Check out Part 1 of our healthy living series.
Proudly brought to you by Causeway Point.