Healthy Living

Work it! Exercise breaks boost fitness and mood

Most of us have heard the aerobic fitness guidelines: We should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week in order to keep cardiovascular disease at bay. Between that and the 15,000 steps we should be taking daily, it can be a little overwhelming for those of us who have busy days and evenings to find ways to fit in our fitness activities.

The great news is that even if you cannot schedule a 30- or 60-minute workout session into your day, several 10-minute mini-workouts have been proven to be just as effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Doing anything you can to hit that 150-minute total for the week helps with weight loss or maintenance, bone and muscle strength, lowering blood pressure, as well as your risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. The little breaks can boost your mood and might even clear your head enough to deal with the work problem you were trying to solve.

Here are a few ways to get your heart pumping and ease that “I-missed-my-workout” guilt!

A BRISK WALK: Warm up with a moderate pace for 5 minutes then ease into a faster walk for the next 5. Keep your upper body tall, and pump your arms for even more aerobic benefit.

KNEE LIFTS: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and your hands lightly touching the back of your head, elbows out. Lift a knee toward the opposite elbow. Alternate left and right knees, keeping your back straight and your breathing regular. Increase the pace to intensify the workout.

TAKE THE STAIRS: Have a flight or two handy? Changing elevation is a verified heart-starter. As long as you’re not blocking traffic, start with a warmup on the bottom stair (right foot up onto first stair, left foot up to the same stair, right foot down to base, left foot down—repeat 10 times), then head up the stairs for the remaining 10 minutes.

YOU KNOW JACK: The good old jumping jack is a great way to get your heart pumping. Be sure to be good to your knees and ankles—don’t twist joints or land badly. Take full advantage of your motion by keeping arms as straight as possible—the longer arc to clap your hands above your head adds a heart boost.

SKATER GLIDE: Stand with feet just outside of your shoulders and crouch slightly. Hop lightly to one foot and cross the opposite foot to the rear behind the other foot, as if you were ice skating. Alternate feet. Swing your arms, bringing your forearm into a vertical line at the middle of your torso. If you’re a beginner or need to keep it low-intensity, eliminate the hop—it’s the dip as you shift your weight that brings the burn.

COOL DOWN: Take a minute or two to stretch the muscles you have worked and drink plenty of water.

Do this while you rest and recover

Trust the experts at Augusta University Health to help you with all of your health and wellness needs. For more fitness tips, check out our other fitness-focused blog posts.

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Augusta University Health

Based in Augusta, Georgia, Augusta University Health is a world-class health care network, offering the most comprehensive primary, specialty and subspecialty care in the region. Augusta University Health provides skilled, compassionate care to its patients, conducts leading-edge clinical research and fosters the medical education and training of tomorrow’s health care practitioners. Augusta University Health is a not-for-profit corporation that manages the clinical operations associated with Augusta University.