We all live busy lives, which often makes us forget how important it is to look after the body. We blame our inactivity on a busy schedule. In reality, your schedule should not be an excuse to get out of exercise. Failure to exercise results in a sedentary lifestyle – and this puts you at risk of various diseases and health problems.
In this post, we want to take a closer look at how you can work on your entire body in less time. We will focus on different types of training routines that can give you a total body workout, even if you have a busy schedule. We also share a few tips to help you make the most out of the little time you do have.
The Complications Of A Sedentary Lifestyle
The World Health Organization (1) reports that sedentary lifestyles are currently considered a major public health concern. It is also considered to be at the top list of causes related to disability, as well as chronic diseases.
One of the major factors to consider is the risk of obesity. When you do not exercise, your body does not burn calories. These long rest periods cause your body to accumulate an excessive amount of fat.
Apart from accumulating more fat, there are other complications to take into consideration too (2):
- Without targeting muscle groups in the body, you start to experience a loss of strength. This can also have an impact on your endurance.
- Bones experience a reduction in mineral content and become weaker over time.
- Your hormone balance may be disrupted. This can create hormonal problems in your body, which can affect your health.
- The immune system depends on a good amount of intense workouts to remain healthy and functional. By living a sedentary lifestyle, you risk weakening your immune system. This means your body can’t fight as effectively against invading pathogens.
- Blood circulation can also be adversely affected, as it is known that strength training and a good cardio workout effectively boost blood flow.
Chronic disease can result in premature mortality, as well as disability (5).
Best Exercises For A Busy Schedule
When opting for a customized workout program from a personal trainer, you’ll often find that the exercises they want you to do take up a lot of time.
It is, however, generally advised to train for at least about 30 minutes a day (6).
When you start with a workout, you should focus on different types of activities. This includes getting your heart pumping, as well as targeting different muscle groups in your body.
We share a couple of workout options that you can perform if you have little time on your hands. Each exercise targets at least one muscle group – such as the core muscles (7).
High Intensity Interval Training
One of the best workouts you can perform, especially if you are limited on time, is high-intensity interval training. These programs are often called HIIT for short.
How HIIT Works
The main purpose of HIIT is to make you shift between aerobic and anaerobic activities in a single session (8).
During aerobic movements, your body uses oxygen in the blood. When you shift to anaerobic activity, your body starts to turn to the energy stored in your body (9). This is how these exercises help you burn calories. In turn, this helps you lose excess fat in your body.
The fat-burning potential of HIIT workouts (10) is not the only factor to consider here.
These activities get your heart pumping and your blood flowing. They are considered relatively intense workouts – but the intensity does depend on the specific program that you are following.
These effects mean you are also catering to your entire body, improving heart health (11), enhancing cognitive function, and much more.
Exercise Plant For High-Intensity Interval Training
HIIT workouts are usually classified into circuits. When you perform these exercises, you should do multiple circuits in order to experience the full benefits.
Here is a quick overview of a sample program that you can start with:
- Begin the process with a good warm-up. An inchworm movement is a good way to loosen your muscles and prevent injury during the HIIT workout. Follow up with a few squat kicks.
- Once you are done warming up, you’ll start in a stand-up position. Get into a split stance and enter a position as if you are going to box. Do a few rounds where you mix jabs, crosses, and upper cuts. Make sure to switch the position of your feet halfway through.
- Next up is a sumo squat. This is similar to a standing squat, but there are a few differences you should keep in mind. Your back needs to remain at a certain degree compared to your hips – this is usually advised to fall between 45 and 90 degrees. Your knees also need to be kept in position with your toes.
- The next part involves boxing movements again. Do straights for about 30 seconds, followed by a few rounds of hooks. Make sure to engage your core while performing these exercises. You want to rotate your torso with every movement, as this helps to maximize the intensity of the workout.
- Immediately move on to a modified X hop. Start by moving into a squat position. Keep your back at a 45 to 90-degree angle with your hips. Your upper legs should be at a parallel position to the ground beneath you. Once you reach this position, engage your muscles to propel the entire body upward. Use this motion to jump into the air – during the movement, extend your legs, then reposition to land in a position you keep when doing a lunge.
- The next one is a bit harder – but the added challenge helps to increase the intensity of the workout. Stand up straight on an exercise mat. Bend at your knees, as well as your hips, and move toward the ground – up to the point where you are in a push up position. Extend your legs, while keeping your feet about shoulder-width apart. Pull down toward the ground, then use your chest, as well as arms to push your body back up to a standing position. Once in a standing position, to a straight punch. Repeat this entire movement for at least 30 seconds before moving on to the next part.
- Next up is a few plank dips. Enter a plank position. Make sure you keep your spine at a neutral alignment. While engaging the core muscles, move your hips toward the ground – but at an angle. Start with the right side, then slowly move back to the starting position, and move to the left side.
This is, of course, only one example of a highly effective HIIT exercise. There are many other options that you can explore.
Mix It Up
Be sure to mix things up and include a variety of movements into your HIIT program.
This way, you can target a larger number of muscle groups, while also burning calories at the same time.
Many people overlook the benefits that Pilates can offer the body. These workouts combine floor exercises with movements done in a standing position.
They can be excellent for improving cardiovascular fitness and experts believe that 20 minutes a day is enough to experience the benefits (12).
There are quite a few different Pilates moves that you can try. Each provides specific benefits.
Some of these moves can also be considered isolation exercises, where specific muscle groups are targeted through the workout. You can focus on your lower body and upper body through Pilates.
One of the best warm-up moves for Pilates is the pelvic curl.
The move engages your core and spine muscles. Several muscle groups in the lower body are also engaged through this move. In addition to warming up, this particular move is also great for improving breathing during the rest of the workout.
There are quite a large number of Pilates moves, so it can feel a bit confusing to choose between these sometimes.
If your goal is to have a quick Pilates session, then here are a few moves and exercises to consider:
- The Pilates Hundred: First up is a classic move that you will learn in most Pilates classes. The Pilates Hundred is great because it offers three important benefits. The move helps with coordination, stamina, and builds strength.
- Single Leg Stretch: To engage your core, while also working on the lower body muscles, make sure to include the single-leg stretch in your workout. The exercise is also highly recommended for people who are looking to achieve a flat abdominal area.
- Swimming: No, we are not telling you to jump into a pool. The Swimming Pilates exercise involves lying on your stomach and mimicking a swimming action. The exercise is great for different parts of your body. When you regularly do the swimming move, you will likely see improvements in the tone of your back, hamstring, abdomen, and buttocks.
- Saw Exercise: Stretching is an important part of Pilates, which is why you should consider the saw exercise. This particular exercise gives your spine a good stretch. It also helps with breathing and improves mobility.
- Spine Stretch: Another great stretch that you can do at any time during the Pilates workout. This exercise is done in a seated position – preferably on your exercise mat.
Swimming is often looked at as a fun activity. You take your kids to the beach to enjoy some time in the water. Perhaps you decide to have a family trip down to the local swimming pool in your area. While it’s fun to get into the pool, you can also use this as a quick exercise (13).
One of the major benefits of swimming is that you work on multiple muscles at the same time.
Swimming As A Low Impact Activity
Swimming is also considered a low-impact exercise, which means you are not putting excess stress on your joints, spine, and muscle tissue (14).
Since you are spending time in the water, you also do not have to be as concerned about sweating.
Combining Multiple Strokes
When you decide to add swimming to your workout routine, be sure to consider different strokes.
There is not only one single way to swim. Each type of stroke can help to target different muscles more effectively. Thus, adopting a swimming program that focuses on a variety of strokes provides a better full body workout.
This is great if you are short on time and do not want to participate in a quick workout that may put a lot of stress on your body, such as when you lift weights.
Start out slow with swimming, but do consider a high-intensity workout in the pool after a while.
When you reach maximum intensity in a swimming activity, you gain more benefits. This may include improvements in muscle mass, while also ensuring you are able to burn a larger number of calories.
Tips To Help You Exercise More
Now that we looked at some of the best exercises you can use to keep yourself active, even when you are a busy person, there are still a few tips we want to share.
While the exercises were shared for informational and educational purposes, make sure you give them a try. Here are a few tips to help you make the most out of your exercise routine:
- HIIT training can be an excellent way for intense workouts that don’t take up a lot of your time. Some people gain significant benefits from HIIT training, even if they only do this vigorous exercise for 20 to 30 minutes every day.
- If you can’t fit a vigorous exercise session into your schedule, see if you can get up 30 minutes earlier in the morning. This gives you enough time to perform your HIIT training, strength training, or other workout option before you get ready for the day. Consider going to bed earlier if you fear feeling tired during the day.
- Your workout program should always include both strength training and cardio activities (15). An anaerobic workout can be useful too, as this helps your exercise program increase blood circulation and burn calories effectively.
- Short workouts can be useful if you cannot set aside 30 minutes at one time. You can perform a shorter workout – perhaps 10 minutes. These short workouts are then repeated multiple times throughout the day.
- If your goal is to gain size through strength training, try to limit your rest periods. Instead of waiting five minutes after your previous workouts set, just give yourself about one minute to rest. This makes the entire workout more efficient. You can do this with an HIIT workout too.
Exercise needs to be part of your daily routine to keep your body healthy. Failure to target different muscle groups in your body can result in complications, such as a loss of strength, endurance, and more.
Even with a busy schedule, it is possible to perform an intense workout that still fits into your routine. There’s no way to visit the gym, as there are weight training techniques you can use to target the entire body at home.