How many times have you thought you should really do some exercise – but just “don’t have the time”? There’s always shopping to sort out, food to prepare, clothes to wash, cleaning to do – never mind attending to the million and one things that your children need your help with.
For many parents, the idea of visiting a gym, perhaps followed by a relaxed swim or a sauna, is such a distant dream that they might as well plan a moon landing. But while there’s no escaping the fact that staying fit and exercising does require discipline and effort, it is a bit of a misconception that exercising HAS to take up a lot of time.
A recent study by a Chinese university showed that doing three 10-minute workouts a day is just as effective as exercising for 30 minutes straight. These so-called "micro workouts" are brilliant at improving heart health, endurance, and burning fat.
Here’s the best bit: you can easily exercise at home without any expensive gym equipment – all you need to do is find enough of those 10-minute windows. All of a sudden, hitting the government guideline of 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week – which radically lowers your chance of chronic diseases – doesn’t seem that unachievable, does it?
Here are some simple, 10-minute workouts for you to get started with!
Chairs squats – great for legs
Pick any chair and use it for doing chair squats. Stand in front of the chair, keep your feet about hip-distance apart and simply lean your chest slightly forwards. Bend your knees, touching the chair with your butt – but don’t sit down, no matter how much you want to – and then stand back up. Choose an amount of reps that suits you, but anywhere between 10 and 15 will give you a nice burning sensation which tells you that you are putting your legs and thighs through something useful!
HIIT drills at home, Tabata style – good for for heart
You might have heard the term high intensity interval training (HIIT), which is all the trend at the moment. It is popular for a reason – it’s a time-efficient way of getting fit. The good news is that you don’t need to sign up for an expensive exercise class at a boutique studio to do HIIT.
The Tabata method – a variation of HIIT – was originally devised for professional athletes in Japan. It involves short, sharp bouts of action, usually eight sets of 20 second drills, with a brief 10 second rest between each set. So two drills amount to exactly 10 minutes!
All you need is enough space to be able to “run on the spot” and a watch. Run your heart out, on the spot, for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds – and repeat that eight times. Have a bit of a breather and do it again. You’ll find it’s harder than it sounds!
Stomach crunches – get those abs working
Get working towards that flat tummy by the most elementary of means – stomach crunches. Simply lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, about a hip-width apart. Place your hands either on your thighs, across your chest or behind your ears.
Slowly curl up towards your knees until your shoulders are about three inches off the floor. Hold the position for a few seconds and lower down slowly. Repeat anywhere between 12 and 20 times. Take a rest and repeat.
Just remember – don't tuck your neck into your chest as you rise and never yank your head off the floor. These are bad forms and can cause injury..
Bridges and lunges for a tighter bum
Firming up your posterior and strengthening your lower back is easy with the 10-minute ‘bridge and lunge’ workout.
First, lie on your back with your knees bent and heels close to your bum. Your feet should be just about shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor. Then start raising your hips to create the bridge – a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Don't let your knees point outwards and keep your chin slightly tucked in.
As you come up, you should feel your abdominals and buttocks tighten.Then lower yourself gently to the starting position. You should easily be able to repeat it between 10 and 15 times.
Then switch to the lunge.
Standing tall with your feet together, take a step forward with your right leg. Slowly bend the knees until both legs are nearly at right angles. Your right knee should not extend over your toes and your left knee should not touch the floor. Always keep your back straight and look straight ahead, while keeping your abdominals contracted. Then simply push back up to the starting position.
Do between 10 and 15 lunges before switching legs. Then go back to doing the bridges and keep alternating until your 10 minutes are up!