While we are all too busy with work, kids, school, and other activities besides exercise, our heart, lungs and blood cells are paying the price. Yes you have an 8:00 meeting in the morning with back to back appointments all day but your body won’t cooperate if it is tired, sick or not functioning at all. Prevention is often a hard sell for health professionals but is ironically the cheapest option for most people when you compare it to options like dialysis, chemotherapy, or unending prescription drugs. Think you don’t have time to workout? Think again.
Fitting in a quick 30 minute workout is the LEAST you can do for your body and to ensure a good quality of life as you age. Of course the recommended amount of exercise is at least 30 minutes most days of the week of moderate to vigorous exercise and 2 days of resistance training, but the following ‘quickie’ workout is a good start. If you are a more advanced exerciser, modify these exercises by adding more resistance. Try to rest no more than 15 seconds between each set and 30 seconds between each exercise:
1. Beginner Squats: If you are not used to doing squats, try using an exercise ball to help you maintain proper form throughout the sequence. Squats are great since they work multiple muscle groups including hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps. As you descend, be sure to sit your hips back to help your knees stay behind your toes and engage your abdominals throughout the exercise. As you come back to a standing position, try don’t lock your knee joints. Perform 2 sets of 12 repetitions.
When you can maintain proper form with the ball, remove the ball and progressively make the exercise more challenging by adding an overhead press with dumbbells.
2. Rear row: Begin with one foot in front of the other in a staggered stance with the front leg bent while supporting your upper body with one of your hands. Holding a dumbbell, bring the elbow up and back toward the wall behind you. Keep your shoulders relaxed and be sure not to twist your upper body as you raise the weight. Do 2 sets of 12 repetitions with each arm.
3. Push ups: A great exercise that strengthens chest, tricep and core muscles and requires no equipment. For both the full and modified versions, be sure to keep your hands a little wider than your shoulders while the placement of your feet should create a straight line with your shoulders. As you descend, keep your core muscles engaged and your back straight. If this is too much work, try placing your knees on the floor and perform the same movement.
For variety, place an exercise ball under your knees, hips or feet. Perform 2 sets of 12 repetitions.
4. Lunges: Great for strengthening the quadriceps and glutes. Take a big step forward bringing one foot in front of the other with about 3 feet of space between the front and back foot (more space if you are taller, less if shorter). Maintain an upright position with your upper body while you bend both knees while keeping the front knee behind the toe. Step back to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. Increase the challenge by adding dumbbells and adding shoulder presses before you take each step forward.
5. Bicep curls: These can be performed in a standing, seated or lying position however we will focus on the standing position. Standing with your feet a little wider than hip width apart, begin with your arms holding the dumbbells comfortably at your side. Keep your elbows close to your waist as you curl the weights up toward your shoulders and back down again at an even pace. Repeat for 12 repetitions.
6. Shoulder press: These exercises can also be performed from a standing or seated position. Holding the weights in your hands, sit or stand with an upright posture with your shoulders down and away from your ears and your core muscles engaged while you raise the weights over head and slightly in front of your head, not behind. Repeat for 2 sets of 12 repetitions.
7. Bicycle crunch: Lying on your back, place your hands behind your head as you bring one knee in to the opposite shoulder while extending the other leg out. Try not to relax your upper body on the floor at any point during the exercise. This exercise is great for strengthening your abdominal muscles, specifically the obliques. Repeat for 2 sets of 25 repetitions on both sides.
These strengthening exercises should take about 20 minutes to complete if you are taking the recommended amounts of short rest periods between sets and exercises.
Wrap up your workout with 10 minutes of interval cardiovascular training using a treadmill. Start by walking at a moderate pace for about 1 minute. Increase the pace until you are walking or running at the highest speed you can tolerate for 30 seconds and then decrease the speed until you are where you started for 30 seconds. Continue this pattern for 4 minutes. Take the next 4 minutes using this same pattern, but using resistance as the variable instead of speed. Spend your last two minutes stretching, making sure to hold each stretch for about 10 seconds.
This 30 minute quick exercise routine should be modified as you progress and of course as you find more time throughout your week to exercise. More cardiovascular activity is needed during the week so make it a priority to find time to fit it in. Exercise is only one piece of your prevention plan, nutrition is just as important.
Thanks for reading! Have a healthy week!