Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health. We know that, but it can be tough to do long workouts with our busy schedules. As a homeschooling mom, writer, and speaker, I know all about being time pinched. That’s why I love short workouts. If you choose the right workouts, they can be just as effective in helping you get fit and reduce stress as longer workouts. Here are my top six picks for short workouts you can do at home.
Scroll down to watch the Periscope broadcast of this post.
#1 Bill Phillips’ 20-minute HIIT
Ever since I completed the 12-week Body for Life challenge, I have continued to enjoy the high-intensity interval training that is part of the program. Each interval is one minute long. Your intensity is rated on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being no difficulty and 10 being as hard as you can work. You do two minutes at a 5 intensity to warm up. You then do a 6-7-8-9 intensity rotation four times. You end with a 10 intensity and a 5 to cool down. I usually take longer to cool down.
Why I’m Crazy About It:
This workout can be done with almost any form of cardio you enjoy. It automatically adjusts for days when your energy is low. You can buy Body for Life or you can just follow the instructions above for free.
#2 Shawn Phillips’ 21-Day Fit
There is no question that the 45-minute weight training plan espoused in Body for Life is effective, but I wanted something quicker. When I learned about his brother Shawn’s plan, I knew it was perfect. You lift a challenging weight for a 30-second interval followed by a 30-second rest. You will need some dumbbells, but that’s all. You can sign up to get the exercise list at 21 Day Fit for free. I have used this workout for years and love it. I listen to music on my phone and use the Interval app so I know when to start and stop. I set the app up to change songs as well.
Why I’m Crazy About It:
It’s short, free, and provides the weight training that is critical to fitness and weight management. I also love that I can listen to my own music while I do it.
#3 Jillian Michaels’s 30 Day Shred
This video uses Jillian’s hallmark rotation of cardio, strength training, and abs. It’s challenging, but she provides modifications and reminds viewers that she has 400-pound people doing these exercises. There are three levels of difficulty. It’s 20 minutes plus a short warm-up and cool down.
Why I’m Crazy About It:
I love the rotations and Jillian’s motivational style. It’s short, intense, and effective. This workout succeeded in eliminating the back pain my friend had suffered with for years. It retails for under $7. You can’t beat that!
#4 Daily Burn 15
These subscription online workouts are really just 15 minutes long. But don’t be fooled. They’re challenging! There are a number of 15-minute workouts to choose from. I watched them from an older Mac, but you could watch by attaching a computer to a bigger screen. Daily Burn offers a free trial to see if it’s for you.
Why I’m Crazy About It
I love that it truly is just 15 minutes long and that there are a variety of instructors to choose from. It’s cool that you can chat with instructors on Facebook via the website, too.
#5 Marie Claire’s 20-Minute Workout
I wrote about how great this workout can be for kids, but it’s great for anyone who wants a short workout. It requires no equipment except for a time keeper.
Why I’m Crazy About It
It’s a great workout to do when you travel because you do stairs. It’s also easy to make it a ten-minute workout by doing just one round.
#6 Chalene Johnson’s Turbo Fire
The complete set of DVDs in Turbo Fire includes 15-, 20-, and 25-minute high-intensity interval workouts. You’ll get your heart rate up and can get on with your day. This is the most expensive option I’ve listed at about $70 at the time of this writing. BeachBody does have sales, however.
Why I’m Crazy About It
Chalene has a way of making you feel like exercise is great fun. She’s the most energetic fitness instructor out there.
Choose one of these workouts to start with OR simply modify a tougher workout. Just because a workout runs for an hour, you’re not required to do it all. I often do just 15-20 minutes of a longer workout. Right now I am doing that with the excellent workouts from Roca Body Fitness.
Even though fitness is a regular part of my life, I do a lot of sitting. I usually sit to read to the kids and I sit at the computer for many activities. That’s a problem.
The Problem with Sitting
Sitting a lot has been shown to decrease life expectancy. It also decreases caloric burn, thereby contributing to weight gain. Sitting can contribute to a number of physical disorders as outlined in The Washington Post.
Taking breaks from sitting is a great idea. We use the Move app between subjects. It suggests one-minute exercises at regular intervals.
Standing desks are another solution. I purchased this one. I have to admit I haven’t used it much. I really hate standing. I would rather walk a mile than stand in one place for a minute. I understand that standing has to be worked up to. I would like to work up to standing for at least one work period a day.
Because I like to walk, a treadmill desk is an option. The problem with this for me is the size, the expense, and the small work space.
I write with my ASUS Transformer attached to a large monitor. Here’s my review of the ASUS Transformer if you’re looking for a compact laptop.
The latest option I heard about was the FitDesk. This is smaller and less expensive than a treadmill desk. But the size of the work space is still an issue. I would have to work using only my small laptop, which isn’t optimal.
The Fitness Sanity Saver That Works for Me
In considering the former options, I found the DeskCycle. It meets all my needs. It is small and fits under my desk/work table, inexpensive, and allows me to use my full-size monitor. I am using it while I write this. It doesn’t move and is completely quiet. While I still need to get up and walk around every hour, I feel very good about staying active during long stretches at the computer. I did a review of it on Periscope if you want to see exactly how I’m using it.
The weather outside is still frightful where we are, making it hard for kids to get the exercise they need. I’ve talked about ways to give your kids exercise before, but I started thinking that I wanted another option.
I remembered using this workout from Marie Claire on vacation and loving it. I realized it would be a perfect winter workout for kids if I made it into a checklist. This is a routine you can easily do WITH your kids. Here’s what I love about it:
Kids can control the intensity of the workout with pace. Less fit kids can go slower.
It uses only body weight and no equipment besides stairs.
It’s hard. One of the things I don’t understand is why kids’ exercise videos are so easy, they won’t even sweat, when a simple game of tag that kids play all the time is enough to wipe me out.
It’s quick. It takes 20-minutes to do the entire routine or 10 to do just one round.
First let me say that I am not a physician or personal trainer. I didn’t create this routine nor can I say that it’s safe for you or your child. Please make sure you are cleared by your doctors to do these exercises and STOP if you are in pain and not just tired.
If you would like to give your kids (and yourself) a good quick workout during these cold winter days, print it out and give it a try. I laminated mine so kids can check off each step and reuse it. You will need to have a timer of some sort handy (iPods or smart phones work great). Finally, you may want to play some upbeat music! Make it fun and kids will want to keep exercising.
What other ways do you use to keep kids fit in the winter?
Are Your Kids and Grandkids Getting Enough Exercise?
Kids spend a big part of the day sitting doing school. Even if your child participates in sports, they may not be spending enough time moving. But don’t worry, you don’t have to add another sport to your already busy schedule. There are simple strategies for squeezing in more fitness time.
Lift weights. You’ve probably heard that lifting weights is for kids in their late teens only, and if you’ve seen any videos of kids who have taken fitness to extremes, you probably believe that’s good advice. But just as weight training is vitally important for adult fitness, lifting light weights in a controlled manner is important for kids. Strong Kids, Healthy Kids presents evidence that slow weight training is particularly suited to children because the light weights and repetitions avoid injury. What’s even better for busy parents is that slow weight training gets results in less workout time than traditional exercise. Using forms to track kids’ progress is especially motivating for them.
Do pushups. While I’m tempted to add other superb exercises like squats and sit-ups to this list, pushups alone are a fantastic form of exercise. They strengthen the entire upper body and the core. One way my husband has motivated our kids to stay fit doing pushups is to pay them for doing a certain number of pushups a day for a month. Of course, you wouldn’t want to use this strategy for life (you could go broke quickly!), but offering a reward is a great way to jump start your kids’ interest in fitness. Once they’ve gotten good at pushups, have them move up to doing burpees.
Use a kids’ video. I’ve tried out a number of kids’ videos, and I really like Kick to Get Fit for Kids. It’s very instructional and what kid doesn’t like to kick? Some kids like to kick too much (like my son in the video who kept “accidentally” kicking his sister), so make sure you allow plenty of room. I like to have the kids workout with this during our mid-morning break if the weather isn’t cooperating.
Make it routine. One of my friends has her kids run a pre-planned circuit through the neighborhood each morning and keeps track of their time. I like to have the kids use the trampoline or play outdoor games during our mid-morning recess. The key is doing a little exercise on a regular basis.
Take up a family sport. Having one child play soccer while the family watches from the sidelines isn’t a family sport, despite the fact that team sports are rewarding in other ways. Playing a sport or enjoying an exercise activity together is not only wonderful for your child’s fitness, but builds family closeness. Our family loves tennis, bike riding, and hiking. There are so many options! If you aren’t sure what to do, make it a family project to try lots of activities until you find the one that works.
Play fitness games together. I mentioned in a post on getting your child’s screen time under control that we originally bought the kids a Wii thinking that it would keep the kids active. Unfortunately, the inactive games soon became more popular. But we’ve noticed that if Mom or Dad or aunts or grandparents will play with our kids, they love the active games again. Dance games can really be a lot of fun (kids love it when we make fools of ourselves) and what’s better is that you’ll get more exercise, too. You know you need it! We all do.
How do you get your kids to spend more time exercising?
I’ve created two streams in particular that I think you will like.
The first is 15 Days of Fitness Inspiration. You’ll find it in the Health & Fitness category. I’ve collected 15 videos, articles, and blog posts that will help you finally get fit. It’s like 5-hour Energy for fitness, without the shakes and insomnia. Oh, and it’s free.
The second stream I authored that may be of interest is a series on dealing with difficult people. You’ll find this in the Relationships category. I combined a number of blog posts I’ve written on the topic into a series of advice. It’s one of the most popular subjects I speak about.
I will have more streams available in the future, but for now:
If you like my streams, please rate them. (If you don’t like them, I don’t mind if you’re too busy to rate.)
When you share this on your favorite social media, you will help people find my streams (and other helpful streams) on TaskCurrent and God willing, help change people’s lives. Thanks in advance for helping me help others!
This week, our friend Gari sent out this great list that he lives by. Not only does Gari live it, but he inspires others to live likewise. He challenged his friends to do 3000 pushups this month (100 a day for 30 days). My husband in turn challenged our kids to participate, offering a financial incentive so good that I had to take the bait, too. Last night when I was finishing my last 20 pushups of 100 for the day very late at night, I was cursing him (sorry, Gari!), but I admire Gari’s attitude and commitment so much. Even if you’re more into faith than fitness, I think you’ll find that these habits translate very well.
1. They don’t think of their fitness as work, but rather a way of life.
It’s kind of like taking a shower; you don’t need one, but you just don’t feel right the rest of the day.
2. They don’t skip workouts.
They take training days as serious as a Dr’s appointment. Appointments and meetings get scheduled around their workout time, not the other way around.
3. They take their rest as seriously as their workouts.
They know that in order to perform at their best and to get the most out of their bodies, they have to give it a rest. Rest days and sleep are as essential as the workouts themselves.
4 They eat to fuel their goals.
Everything they eat serves a purpose. Protein for muscles, carbs for energy, and produce for vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Treats are done, but never over-done.
5 They tune everything out when they workout.
Focus. They know that anything you give your undivided attention to works out better. Being in tune with your body allows them to make tweaks, and know which tweaks to make.
6 They push through frustration.
If you think it’s easy for the super fit to get fit,and stay fit, you’re wrong. They’re highly competitive and always striving to hit new goals. They struggle like everyone else with busy lives. Stress, plateaus, fatigue, and frustration. But there isn’t a thought of giving up, it’s just a matter of finding their answer.
7 They prepare their food in advance.
They know what they’ll be eating the whole day. If they don’t bring their food, they know what they can order off menus and what they can find at a grocery store. Drive-thrus don’t exist in their world.
8 They use their flaws as motivators, not a reason to give up.
They see their flaws (even if you don’t) and despise them like everyone else. But rather then letting their flaws bring them down,,they use them to motivate themselves.
9 They envision the win-goal-finish line every day.
The goal is crystal clear in their mind. The thought of the sculpted body or winning the race always keeps them motivated. Regardless of life’s pressures, they race towards the winner’s tape.
10 Persistence, persistence, persistence.
Yes… they are persistent!
11 There are no excuses.
They learn early that excuses are time-suckers and don’t get you anywhere near your goals. Better to get it done than whine about why you didn’t.
12 There is no giving up.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us – Hebrews 12:1
Which of these habits do you struggle with the most?