Many of use know that exercise provides a vast range of physical and mental health benefits but finding the time or the motivation to do can be a struggle, especially now that many of us are juggling work and family life and are under increasing stress as the coronavirus impacts our daily lives.
Regular exercise provides many benefits - from lowering your risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke to reducing stress and depression and even improving your self-esteem, mood and energy levels.
"If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented," says Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant. Source: NHS
The best exercise you can do is one that you can stick with for the long-term and you enjoy. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for you. We’ve therefore pulled together five different types of home exercises you can try to find your perfect fit - all of which can be done in ten minutes or less.
Tabata is a circuit-based interval training, where you perform a series of four or five exercises for 20 seconds at high-intensity, followed by ten seconds of rest. It will get your heart rate pumping quickly and helps build lean muscle tissues at the same time.
There are plenty of tabata workouts you can find online that you can do in just five or ten minutes, whether your goal is a cardio-based workout or building strength. They generally focus on bodyweight exercises too, so there’s no need for specialist equipment and you can do them practically anywhere.
To be able to keep going, it’s generally best to alternate the exercises between your upper and lower body and core work. Here are a few tabata circuit exercise ideas to get you started:
If you’re in need of a relaxing workout break but still want to improve your strength and endurance then yoga is the perfect home exercise to try.
You don’t need to dedicate 30 to 45 minutes to relax and recharge. Instead, you can quickly work on your strength, flexibility and breathing in five or even ten minute workouts. If you can’t touch your toes then don’t worry as there are workouts for all levels and for all physical needs - from improving core strength and increasing flexibility to rehabilitating problem areas such as your knees, hips and back.
There are even yoga workouts designed with children in mind, which encourage them to move with you via storytelling and fun!
Online courses and apps will help you structure your workouts and increase your ability levels over time, usually with a low monthly fee, but you should be able to find free lessons before you decide if it’s something you enjoy.
There’s a good reason that boxers incorporate skipping as part of their gruelling exercise routine. It doesn’t just increase their agility and lightness on the feet - allowing them to “dance like a butterfly”. It helps with mind-body coordination and improves their stamina, so that they can go through twelve rounds of intense boxing.
Skipping is a great exercise to try when working from home as it doesn’t take long for you to raise your heart beat quickly and you don’t need expensive equipment. It’s also challenging - you may only be able to do five sets of 20 seconds to start with, so you’ll feel a sense of reward as your abilities increase.
Tips to get you started:
- Keep feet low to the ground when jumping to reduce impact.
- Alternate between a basic jump and alternate foot jumps, which can help you improve your coordination.
- Focus on rotating the rope with your wrist instead of your shoulders or elbows.
- Start with 30 second spurts and 30 second rests for five minutes, then build up to 40 seconds with 20 second rests and gradually increase your overall workout time.
- There are plenty of apps and online videos that can help with you proper form and routines to suit your ability level.
One of the best things about dancing is that you can get a full body workout without feeling like you’re working out. It’s a fun way to improve your posture, coordination, balance and muscle strength and increase your heart rate.
You can easily fit dancing into work breaks when listening to your favourite songs. We’ve all got a few firm favourites that we can’t help but dance too and that make us feel good. Just hit play and dance like nobody's watching and you’ll soon reap the benefits physically and mentally!
But if you’ve ever watched Strictly Come Dancing or Britain’s Got Talent and thought, “I'd love to do that”, there are plenty of online tutorials and DVDs you can do in ten minutes or less, whatever your dance style interest.
From salsa and ballroom dancing to hip-hop and even Bollywood dancing, there really is something for everyone. Some lessons are standalone but others offer courses where you can choose to build up specific skills in quick sessions to help you master your favourite dance style.
Strength training helps improve flexibility and mobility, enabling you to carry out day-to-day activities with a lower risk of injury. It also helps prevent bone and muscle loss that happens naturally as we get older.
Just because the gyms are closed, it doesn’t mean that you can’t keep up with strength training at home. Exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups, tricep dips, leg bridges and planks can all be done with bodyweight alone. Even deadlifts and shoulder presses can be performed with affordable dumbbells (or cans of soup or water bottles).
If you need some inspiration and like to work towards a goal, there are plenty of free 30 day challenges you can try, which increase the number of repetitions you do daily. By day 30, you could see your abilities increase from five push-ups and 20-second planks to 30 push-ups and five minute planks. Even by day 30, you’ll be able to perform a quick three or four exercise routine in under ten minutes.
If you’re new to strength training, then the NHS has a quick ten minute strength training video workout you can perform to ease you in
Like we said, the best type of home exercises are ones that you enjoy and can stick with long-term, without getting bored. Hopefully, these ideas will give you some inspiration to switch up how you can get yourself moving and help you feel physically and mentally better during this difficult time.
Topics: Mental health & wellbeing