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How to Do Mini Workouts Throughout the Day for Fitness

Linda Crampton is a biology teacher who loves to walk. She enjoys exploring places on foot and appreciates the health benefits of walking.

Mini workouts should be fun as well as energetic.

Mini workouts should be fun as well as energetic.

A Different Way to Exercise

Most of us know that exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes the thought of performing a full length exercise session at the end of a busy day is daunting, however. We may feel too tired after work or school to even think of exercising, or we may have too much to do in our home looking after other people, doing household chores, or studying.

In these circumstances, it may be easier and less intimidating to do short exercise sessions periodically throughout the day instead of one big session once a day. Multiple mini workouts can be very beneficial for health. They may even be as good as or, according to some researchers, even better than one continuous exercise session, depending on the exercises that are done and their frequency and duration.

Many types of exercises can be performed in short sessions. It's important that we don't do short bursts of extremely vigorous or difficult exercises in these exercise sessions, though. Strenuous exercise should always be preceded by a warm up period involving gentler exercise. In addition, if you are very unfit or have a health problem, check with your doctor before you do any type of exercise.

Fitting walking into daily life is a great way to get some exercise.

Fitting walking into daily life is a great way to get some exercise.

How Short Can Mini Workouts Be?

In different research projects, health benefits have been observed when mini workout sessions have lasted for five, ten, or fifteen minutes and when they have added up to a total of thirty minutes exercise in a day. Exercising for less than five minutes in a session is not likely to be helpful, unless someone is recovering from an illness or injury or is very out of shape. In these situations, very short exercise sessions could be useful, if a doctor agrees.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention|) recommends that a person doing multiple aerobic exercise sessions in a day exercises for at least ten minutes at a time. Most sources that I've seen recommend this as the minimum time length for a session. It seems like a good goal to me, provided a person is reasonably healthy. Three ten-minute sessions would provide the day's exercise requirement. The CDC also recommends that we get a total of 150 minutes of moderately-intense aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) each week.

The term "speed walking" doesn't mean simply walking fast. When it's done correctly, it can exercise the upper body as well as the lower one. The woman in the video above describes and demonstrates the process.

Mini Walking Workouts

Walking can be a great form of exercise, as long as the walk is more demanding than a slow stroll. Slow strolls have their uses, though. They are great for relaxation or for someone with health problems that prevent them from doing more vigorous types of walking. Any type of walking has some health benefits.

Here are some ways to sneak a walking walkout into your busy day.

  • Climb any stairs that you encounter. Climbing the stairs once is good, but if you have time, go down and climb the stairs again. Stair climbing is great aerobic exercise and is also a wonderful exercise for the thigh muscles. (An aerobic exercise strengthens the heart and lungs.)
  • During your walks, walk up hills, march with knee lifts, or do speed or power walking intervals with bent arms (without letting them cross your body) for added aerobic and strength-building benefits.
  • Take brisk mini walks throughout the day. For example, walk to the next bus stop instead of the nearest one when you have to catch a bus. Take a mini walk at lunch time or before heading home after work. Park your car at the edge of a shopping mall parking lot so that you have to walk to the mall entrance. Walk one or more circuits around the shopping mall before you enter a store.
  • Take a walk on the way home from work. It’s often psychologically easier to exercise before you arrive home than to get yourself physically and mentally ready for exercise once you’ve entered your home at the end of the workday. Park the car on the way home so that you can take a walk before you continue on your drive. Get off the bus one or more stops before your usual bus stop and walk the rest of the way home.
  • Take advantage of any outdoor exercise equipment that you see on your walks.
  • Try walking backwards to exercise new muscles. Check your route for obstacles first, though!
  • During the week and on weekends, walk or cycle to school, work, stores, or appointments instead of driving or using public transport. Make exercise a part of your lifestyle. This may be the best strategy of all for getting regular exercise.
Cycling on a safe route may allow you to explore some lovely scenery, even in a city.

Cycling on a safe route may allow you to explore some lovely scenery, even in a city.

In a recent study, researchers at the University of California, San Diego found an interesting benefit of a short walking session. After twenty minutes of walking at a moderate pace, subjects had a significant drop in the blood level of immune system cells linked to inflammation.

More Aerobic Mini Workouts

  • Hopping, jumping, and running intervals are good ways to increase aerobic intensity, provided a short walk is performed as a warm-up. In fact, some researchers have found that mixing short and higher intensity intervals with longer and lower intensity ones is better for fitness than exercising at a constant intensity. Make sure that you're wearing supportive and cushioning shoes when you do any higher-impact forms of exercise and avoid very hard surfaces.
  • Kick, hit, or throw a ball around for a short time. Having fun while you exercise can make it easier to do.
  • Dancing can also be great exercise. When you’re listening to music at home, get up and move or dance to the music until the song or section is finished. Just make sure that you’re wearing suitable shoes. You may enjoy moving to music so much that you'll want to dance to the next song, too.
  • Indoor exercise machines such as stationary bikes and treadmills can be useful for mini workouts, as long as the exerciser doesn't find their use boring. Some people avoid the potential boredom by exercising while watching television or listening to music.

The video below includes some ideas that for activities that could be performed in mini workouts while a person is outdoors or indoors. As always, it's important to listen to your body if you try them and to keep the intensity and repetitions low if you are a beginner.

Mini Strength-Building Sessions

Aerobic exercises such as the ones described above are essential in a fitness program. Strength training is important too, however. Here are some ideas for building muscle strength. As in aerobic exercise, start gently and increase the challenge gradually.

  • Spend some time standing instead of sitting. Standing burns more calories than sitting. When you do sit, don’t slouch, but do make sure that your back is properly supported.
  • When you sit, consider sitting on a large exercise ball for some of the time. This exercises new muscles as you balance on the ball. Spend only a short time on the ball to begin with and increase your sitting time gradually.
  • Do a few biceps curls or other upper body exercises with natural weights that you encounter during the day, such as full food and drink containers or small items of office equipment.
  • Do a few wall push ups during the day to exercise your upper body.
  • Do lunges and squats or other standing or sitting lower body exercises when you have a spare moment (and when you also have privacy if you prefer).
  • Do standing crunches to exercise the abdominal area.
  • Take a resistance band or resistance tube to work with you or keep one at your workplace and use it to exercise your muscles. Stretchy resistance bands, also called exercise bands, come in different tensions to suit your muscle strength and are easy to carry from place to place. Resistance tubes are similar but have handles. Exercise bands or tubes can be taken on walks for resistance training intervals.
  • Try exercising during the advertisements when you’re watching television or even while you're watching a program. Keep weights or exercise bands beside your seat so that they are readily available when you need them. Start with light weights if you’re new to weightlifting.

Exercise Safety

  • Periodically do gentle stretching exercises and standing or sitting yoga exercises. (Don’t do big stretches if your muscles aren’t warmed up.)
  • Remember to be careful with all exercises, especially if you haven’t exercised for a long time or haven’t done a particular type of exercise before or for a long time. Start gently and gradually increase the intensity over time as you become fitter.
  • Make sure that you use the correct form when lifting weights or doing strength-building exercises. Even though you’re doing a mini workout, don’t sacrifice good body form for speed. It’s better to do one exercise correctly for a short time than to cram many exercises done incorrectly into the same time period. A little research before you incorporate an exercise into a workout will help prevent any injuries and enable you to keep increasing your fitness level.
  • Do a variety of exercises for interest and to exercise different parts of your body. Take rest days if you need them, especially if you're new to exercising.
Some parks and other public places have exercise equipment for adults as well as children. The equipment can be great fun to use.

Some parks and other public places have exercise equipment for adults as well as children. The equipment can be great fun to use.

The Benefits of Short Exercise Sessions

While mini workouts won't be very useful for training professional athletes or advanced amateur ones, they are great for the rest of us. They may help us to both stick to an exercise program and enjoy it. On days when we have time, we can participate in one longer period of exercise if we wish (or perhaps two medium-length ones). It's nice to know that on other days multiple mini workouts can help us to get fit and stay that way.

References

  • "How much physical activity do adults need?" from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • "Two short, daily activity bouts vs. one long bout: are health and fitness improvements similar over twelve and twenty-four weeks?" from the National Institutes of Health
  • "Does the fractionalization of daily physical activity (sporadic vs. bouts) impact cardiometric risk factors in children and youth?" from the National Institutes of Health
  • "Short Exercise Sessions May Decrease Inflammation" from WebMD
  • "Speed up your walking" from the University of California, Berkeley

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Linda Crampton

Comments

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 14, 2013:

Thank you very much, kungfukid!

kungfukid from Los Angeles, California on January 14, 2013:

excellent hub. many will benefit from this information.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 24, 2011:

Hi, amymarie_5. Thank you for the comment and the vote. It's very nice to meet you!

Amy DeMarco from Chicago on December 24, 2011:

Thank you! This is great advice! I do some of these things already throughout the day. It's useful when there isn't time to workout.

Rated up!!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 27, 2011:

Thank you very much for the visit and the comment, crazybeanrider! My profile kitty is my cat Nevin.

Boo McCourt from Washington MI on July 27, 2011:

Love your profile kitty by the way. This hub is so informative and useful. So much information to use. Great work!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 17, 2011:

Thank you for the comment and vote, RTalloni! Yes, I think that taking advantage of free moments throughout the day is a good way to get some exercise.

RTalloni on July 17, 2011:

Good reminder to take advantage moments throughout the day. Thanks! Voted up and useful.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 10, 2011:

Thank you very much for the comment and the votes, mar! I think that for many people incorporating short exercise sessions into the day would be much easier than fitting in a long workout. I know this works for me, especially on busy days when I know that I'm not going have time to do a normal workout. I enjoy knowing that researchers have shown that frequent short exercise sessions are very beneficial.

The best mini-workouts are those which are part of our daily activities and are done in a holistic manner, just as you mention. Nowadays even my "normal" workouts have to be things that I enjoy and that serve more than one purpose, such as hiking with my dog, surrounded by nature.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on July 10, 2011:

Alicia,

This is a gorgeous way of describing the way we all need to be moving our bodies, in a holistic manner, the way our Eastern counterparts do in the world. Our tendency in America is to be so competitive that we turn ourselves away from "exercise" or injure ourselves with rigorous workouts.

This is well written with great, safe suggestions. Voted UP & UAB, mar.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 02, 2011:

Thank you for the comment and rating, BkCreative! That's the nice thing about mini workouts - they can fit into the daily routine and don't require a lot of time or preparation. I try to get regular exercise sessions. Walking my dog helps, but on weekdays when I'm busy it's often a short walk, so he and I have to add mini workouts for extra exercise. He chases and retrieves a ball and I do some of the mini workouts that I've described. I do some of the exercises during the day too. They do work!

BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on July 02, 2011:

I HAVE to do this! For the last year I have been at home doing freelance writing and although I don't think my weight has gone up (more than a few pounds) I am so aware of the flab! Yikes. All these small steps you mention will keep the weight off and the skin toned. Whew!

This is just the pep talk I need. Although I live in a tiny building I can walk up and down the steps (to my 2nd floor apt.) a couple extra times a day. It is 5:25am Sat, and I am going to do that right now. Thanks a million.

Rated up! Yay!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 30, 2011:

Thank you very much, Hawk Fitness. I enjoyed creating this hub, as well as all my other hubs!

Hawk Fitness from Franklin,Tennessee on June 30, 2011:

Very nice. You took a lot of time on this hub.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 29, 2011:

Hi, scott33thomas. Yes, participating in a good exercise program and following a good diet are great ways to help us have healthy lives!

Manuel Porras from Germany, Colombia, USA, Panama, Mexico, Spain on June 29, 2011:

there is nothing better to do a good workout and followed a good diet

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 28, 2011:

Thank you for the comment and the vote, Sunshine625! I enjoy doing wall push ups too. I do them in my home, but I also take short breaks on some of my walks to do pushups and a few other strength exercises.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 28, 2011:

Hi, barbergirl28. That sounds like a great idea - doing squats when you have a spare moment between jobs at home! Thank you for the comment.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on June 28, 2011:

Great tips! I do most of them and they work especially the wall push-ups!!! Voted UP!

Stacy Harris from Hemet, Ca on June 28, 2011:

Definitely some great tips... sometimes I do squats when I am changing the laundry around. Great mini exercise... although I will admit it makes me hate laundry even more!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 28, 2011:

Thank you for reading my hub and for your comment, jinlei123.

jinlei123 from I was in China on June 28, 2011:

Well, I like

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 24, 2011:

Thank you for the visit and the comment, C-Bless.

C-Bless from Canada on June 24, 2011:

Great ideas - thank you for sharing.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 24, 2011:

Hi, Nell. Yes, housework with simple, non-electronic equipment is great exercise! Thanks for the suggestion.

Nell Rose from England on June 24, 2011:

Hi, these are great ideas, what I tend to do is, when I am cleaning, I do the 'reach' thing with the duster, then I get a broom, instead of a hoover, and give the floor a good going over, great for your arms! lol cheers nell

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 21, 2011:

Hi, kashmir56. Thank you for the comment and vote up!

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on June 21, 2011:

Hi AliciaC, great mini workouts and tips and advice .

Vote up !!!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 20, 2011:

You’re so right, Tina. It is a strange situation for us to be in, especially compared to earlier humans. We have an easier life than them, with great features like improved technology and medical care, but we seem to have lost some good things that they had in their lives, including getting exercise from our daily activities. Thank you for the comment.

Christina Lornemark from Sweden on June 20, 2011:

Isn't it a bit funny that we have created so much technical inventions and helpful tools that we hardly need to move around anymore. So now we must seek and grab every moment to get some exercise instead:)

Joking aside, this is a wonderful hub with great advices and ideas. There is never enough time during a day so mini-workouts are a great way to get the exercise we need!

Thanks for a great article

Tina

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 19, 2011:

Great, breakfastpop! I hope that you enjoy doing mini workouts. Thanks for the visit.

breakfastpop on June 19, 2011:

Okay, I'll try!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 19, 2011:

Hi, Movie Master. Thank you very much for the comment and vote.

Movie Master from United Kingdom on June 19, 2011:

Hi AliciaC, these are great tips, I work from home so try to take time out to exercise whenever I can, many thanks and voted up.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 19, 2011:

Thanks, b. Malin. I "dance" to music too when no one else in the family, apart from the pets, are around. It's a fun activity, even for someone who can't actually dance!

b. Malin on June 19, 2011:

I no longer have stairs with this house...However the way it is laid out I can walk from one end to the other and of course out side...I try to Stand more than sit...And I Dance in my Kitchen to the Radio Music. Wonderful, uplifting Hub AliciaC.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 18, 2011:

Thank you very much SUSANJK. I love your avatar photo!

SUSANJK from Florida on June 18, 2011:

Great tips. I will try them,

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 18, 2011:

Thank you for the visit and the funny comment, drbj. I guess it really is time for a person to make a change when their dog laughs at them!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on June 18, 2011:

My dog used to sit and grin at me while I jumped rope for exercise. When she started laughing, I changed my routine to swimming instead.

Excellent fitness tips, Alicia. Thank you.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 18, 2011:

Hi, Just Ask Susan. I'm lucky to have stairs in my house, and I use them for mini workouts. My dogs were puzzled when I first started stair climbing too! They wagged their tails and looked at me as though they were thinking, "Is this some new kind of game?" They're used to me going up and down the stairs now. Thank you for the comment.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 18, 2011:

Thank you, Ratul1987! It's nice to meet you.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on June 18, 2011:

The other day I was going up and down my stairs just to try and get in some extra exercise. My 2 dogs were looking at me like "What the heck are doing now you silly woman". Mind you this was about 5 times up and 5 times down. Great tips here and some I will start doing.

Md Shahriar Haque from Bangladesh on June 18, 2011:

Great Hub...Keep it up, I like it.