When I started researching ‘Microworkouts’, it turned out I have been doing them for years. Next to my kettle at home are two 1.5kg dumbbells – enough for a few quick boxing style movements while the cup brews. In the office this is not as easy, though I have been known to sneak in a couple of air squats when nobody is looking.
Microworkouts is a new term for an old idea. The concept is to add a tiny bit of exercise here and there throughout your day. Cumulatively, they help you stay healthy and contribute to your overall fitness – without affecting your main workouts (or requiring a shower!).
For me, a microworkout is between 2 and 5 minutes – short enough not to interfere with your normal daily routine. Some bloggers go as far as 15 or 20 minutes. Unless you are a fitness pro, that is way too long for the micro category. Many people out there would consider 20 minutes to be their main workout. Don’t forget to warm up and down before you do anything that puts significant strain on your muscles.
It is now well understood how our lifestyles cause circulation problems, muscle wastage and even disease. So many people spend life sat down. This can be in an office chair, on the sofa or in the car. All else being equal, sitting for long periods is a significant factor in bad overall health.
One way that short, sharp workouts help is to cancel out some of the effects of sitting. You can boost your heart rate, use otherwise dormant muscles, and correct your posture very quickly.
The other way that micro workouts are healthy is that the exercise contributes to health and fitness incrementally. You only need to get active a few times each day – for example 4 sets of pull-ups or squats. At the end of the week, you did 28 sets – that is more than 100 each month. Each time you fit in a quick sprint, take those 3 flights of stairs instead of the lift or briskly walk the long way to the office kitchen you are burning calories and improving your cardio health.
Which kind of exercises you choose depends on your fitness goals – which in turn factor in your size, age, and fitness levels.
Here are some of the main categories:
Like everything health and fitness related, that initial enthusiasm will only last so long. One week of squats each hour in the office won’t have the compounding effect of long-term mini workouts.
When it comes to habits, I love ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear. He lays out many of the common traps we fall into. Making it easy is the key element with microworkouts. If you have to go the garage to find your weights or get to a meeting room half way across the office campus, then you are creating a barrier. This is why my weights are next to my kettle – easy access and clearly visible.
You can also start microworkouts with a willing friend or colleague. By keeping on top of each other’s progress – you will have a commitment outside of yourself.
Finally, become the kind of person that enjoys identifying as a microworkout fan. Will power can only ever get you so far – once you identify as someone moving forward with health, fitness and a great diet, those small extras will become a source of pleasure – not pain.
The best thing of all about the concept of microworkouts is that there is literally nothing stopping you from getting started. If you don’t have the weights (for example) use bodyweight exercises until your order arrives. If you can’t get out for that sprint, then buy a treadmill or try burpees instead.
Once you feel the health kick from keeping constantly on the move – you’ll never go back to that one fitness session per week routine. Remember, sitting still for long periods is bad for your health. Do something about it today, get in the habit of microworkouts!
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