The average person in the United States walks about 6,000 steps per day and has a high risk for heart disease and mortality. The people in Tsimane, a small village in Bolivia, walk about 17,000 steps per day and are known for their extremely low risk of heart disease and mortality. This correlation between physical activity (steps) and risk of heart disease or mortality has been cited numerous times in scientific literature. Therefore, we’re confident that being active helps produce a healthy lifestyle. But, with the current coronavirus lock-down measures in place, most of us are confined to our own homes all day. I’ve noticed my average steps per day declining to around 5,000 per day when I workout and 3,000 per day on rest days. This is far less than the 25,000 steps I average on a typical workday and has become a concern for me. So, I’ve created a plan to incorporate physical activity in my confined space throughout each day during this period of isolation.
Mini Exercise Breaks
The key is mini exercise breaks. Not only do we know that physical activity helps produce a healthy lifestyle, but we know it’s even more effective when spread out over the course of a day. Deborah Rohm Young, the director of behavioral research at Kaiser Permanente Southern California, stated that “Regardless of how much physical activity someone gets, prolonged sedentary time could negatively impact the health of your heart and blood vessels.” While dedicated exercise sessions are important, they won’t fix the 23 other hours of your sedentary lifestyle. This is similar to how taking a 20 minute nap won’t fix chronic sleep deprivation.
This is where mini exercise breaks come in to play. For one minute of each hour awake, I’ve decided to incorporate a quick exercise into my day. I picked a wide variety of exercises that contain strength, cardio, stability, balance, flexibility and mobility work. These exercise breaks are intended to bring more movement into my day and decrease prolonged sedentary periods. Below, is a list of exercises I’m starting to do each day. I challenge you to participate in this routine for one day and see how it makes you feel. If you see any benefits, try it for a week. You may find that these mini exercise breaks are so beneficial, that you’d like to start incorporating them into your daily routine even after the coronavirus lockdowns are lifted.
Let’s get to it!
This routine is based on an 8 hour sleep schedule starting at 11 PM and ending at 7 AM. Please adjust the times below to reflect your sleep schedule. Each one of these exercises should be performed for one minute unless stated otherwise. Don’t perform any exercises if they cause pain though.
7 AM – Leg Swings
Leg Swings are a great way to rev up the bodies balance, mobility and flexibility. Perform these swings for 30 seconds on each leg.
8 AM – Running Jacks
Running Jacks are a combination of two exercises. Your lower body will be running in place while your upper body will be performing jumping jacks. This exercise challenges your coordination while getting your heart pumping and body moving.
9 AM – High Knee Run
High Knee Run starts working the core and the respiratory system. You’ll probably notice you’re a little out of breath after this exercise.
10 AM – Squat Jumps
Jump Squats work on your explosiveness and lower body strength. Performed for a minute, they’ll get you out of breath really quick too.
11 AM – Bird Dogs
Bird Dogs work on core stabilization and back strength. For all the time we spend sitting, this exercise is great for improving bad posture and reducing back pain caused by a sedentary lifestyle.
12 PM – Mountain Climbers
Mountain Climbers are our first exercise of the day that start challenging our upper body strength. While mostly a core workout hitting the abs and obliques, our shoulders, chest and back are required for stabilization too.
1 PM – Squats
Like Squat Jumps referenced earlier, regular squats performed with good form and proper tempo target lower body strength too.
2 PM – Push-ups
Push-ups are one of the best upper body exercises created. This move requires activation of the chest, triceps, shoulders, back and core to complete properly.
3 PM – Front Alternating Lunges
Front Alternating Lunges target the lower body again but with a twist. By performing this movement with one leg, we target the smaller stabilization muscles that aren’t as activated with a regular squat.
4 PM – Plank Hold
Plank Holds target core strength. Try to hold this plank for 60 seconds with as little movement as possible. You’ll feel the burn by the end.
5 PM – Side Plank Hold
Side Plank Holds provide a focus on the obliques. Perform this exercise for 30 seconds on each side.
6 PM – Dead Bugs
Dead Bugs are another great exercise for treating back pain or bad posture. With this exercise, you’ll notice a lot of muscles are required to complete this movement including your hips, abs and obliques.
7 PM – Bridges
Bridges should be performed by contracting your glutes and lifting up through your heels rather than your back. With this exercise, you should notice hamstring, glute and lower back activation.
8 PM – Chair Pose Hold
Hold a Chair Pose for 60 seconds. The lower you go in the hold the more difficult it is. Maintain proper form with a flat back and knees behind your toes. You’ll feel this hold in your legs and shoulders.
9 PM – Opposite Arm Circles
Like regular arm circles but with a twist. Each arm should swing in the opposite direction. At the 30 second mark, reverse direction with each arm. This move requires coordination and helps with shoulder strength and mobility.
10 PM – Downward Dog Hold
Hold a Downward Dog pose for 60 seconds. Maintain proper form by lifting up with your hips and pushing the ground away with your hands and shoulders. This move should tax your shoulders and provide a good hamstring and calf stretch.
11 PM – Child’s Pose Hold
Right before bed, Child’s Pose is a great restorative pose to perform after a long day. You’ll feel the stretch in your shoulders, hips and back.
With most of us confined to our own homes during the coronavirus outbreak, a sedentary lifestyle can be easy to fall into. And, if we’re attempting to fix that with a single 30 minute or hour exercise session, we’re missing the mark. Living a healthy life that prevents heart disease and mortality involves movement throughout the day. Mini exercise breaks therefore become critical to accomplishing this goal. I challenge you to try these mini exercise breaks for an entire day. Get your body moving and blood flowing. Subscribe to a life that not only prevents heart disease and mortality but promotes health and happiness.
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Hey, I am Brandon Zerbe
Welcome to myHealthSciences! My goal has always been to increase quality-of-life with healthy habits that are sustainable, efficient and effective. I do this by covering topics like Fitness, Nutrition, Sleep, Cognitive Health, Financial Independence and Minimalism. You can read more about me here.
- The Futility of the Workout-Sit Cycle
- How the Tsimané of Bolivia Stay Heart-Healthy, Despite a 2,700-Calorie Diet
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