Making time for the gym or to work out isn’t for everyone. There’s a belief that if you don’t have an hour to sweat you’re not being effective. Time and effort certainly impact the result when it comes to increasing strength, building endurance, or toning muscles. But there are little ways you can incorporate fitness into your day that can make an impact both mentally and physically.
“All movement counts and should be celebrated,” says Andrea Lawson, Strength & Conditioning Coach, Kinesiologist and owner of Balance in Motion. “Small actionable movement goals are stepping stones to bigger achievements. 10 minutes a day adds up quickly if you choose activities you enjoy and stick with them.”
Here are some tips for making fitness a priority when you’re crunched for time or motivation.
Walk it out
Getting off the bus a few stops early, taking the stairs, an extra lap around the grocery store, or a lunchtime stroll shouldn’t be underrated. These extra steps add up. Walking has numerous health benefits including reducing body fat, preventing heart disease, and strengthening bones and muscles. Walking is good for your brain too, improving mood and cognitive function and increasing energy levels. To maximize the impact of your steps, pick up the pace and increase your distance.
High intensity interval training or HIIT workouts are repeated bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of recovery. Think 40 seconds of jumping jacks or push ups, 20 seconds of rest and then repeat it 10 times. There are numerous workouts online or you can choose five to 10 of your favourite moves and repeat them. Dedicating 10 uninterrupted, unplugged minutes per day to focus on your body will set you up to increase the length and intensity of the workout. Just 10 minutes, several times a week will activate your muscles and leave you feeling stronger as reps increase.
Starting a workout plan can be daunting. Committing to a gym membership and three workouts a week may be too intense. To start feeling healthier and toning your muscles, it’s important to enjoy movement. Getting Lizzo on Spotify and dancing it out for 10 minutes raises your heart rate and gets endorphins flowing. Biking the seawall with a friend will get you sweating and reduce stress. Jumping on the swings at the local park and pumping until you go so high your stomach drops will offer an instant reminder that movement feels good.
While 10 minutes a day won’t result in a six-pack, the mental and emotional benefits of dedicating time to movement are limitless. “Activities you have easy access to, enjoy, and can stick with are important when it comes to movement and fitness,” explains Lawson. “It’s mentally rewarding to truly dedicate time each day, even if it's 10 minutes, to take care of your body.”
Consistency and intention are key to maintaining a healthy mindset and routine. A focus on fitness can also mentally position you to make better choices, for your overall wellness, throughout the day. Start with 10 minutes and see where it takes you.
Jenn Wint is a writer, founder of Wint Communications, and author of ‘Josie’s Busy Calendar.’ She lives in East Van where she’s on a quest to find the city’s best chocolate chip cookie. Find Jenn on Instagram at @jenn_wint.