Short on Time, Big on Results
It’s back-to-school season. It is the time of year when leisurely schedules shift from carefree to hectic, and days are crammed with endless to-dos. Exercise and gym workouts usually end up at the bottom of the list. As fall sets in, it’s common for many of us to ease up on our exercise routines. Whether it’s the demanding schedule, thoughts of upcoming holidays, or the allure of comfy sweaters beckoning us to hibernate, fitness often takes a backseat, and sometimes that means skipping it altogether until the new year.
But here’s the good news – it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a new approach to staying committed to your exercise goals, even when life throws curveballs your way.
Enter–micro-exercising, a trending fitness hack that might be the new secret weapon to help you squeeze in a workout between dinner and your kid’s soccer game without spending hours at the gym. Let’s talk about micro-exercising and how it’s a proven alternative to those long, sweaty workouts.
What is Micro-Exercising?
The name leaves little to the imagination! Micro-exercising is just that–small or brief workouts. It’s a fitness concept to regularly implement simple, short, and effective bursts of activity into your daily life. It’s a way to fit exercise into any lifestyle easily. Most of the exercises can be done without equipment and use your own bodyweight to provide resistance for effective strength training. Micro workouts can last anywhere from one to ten minutes and can consist of squats, push-ups, sprints, crunches, calf raises, wall-sits, or any other exercise you choose.
But the best part is that you can do the exercises anywhere and anytime. There is no need to carve time out or change into your workout gear. You can do them while waiting for your coffee to brew, between Zoom meetings, or at the bus stop.
Examples of Micro Workouts:
- Two minutes of calf raises while you wait for bread to toast
- Six-minute circuit of lunges and squats while you wait for your clothes to finish in the dryer
- Three-minute plank while you’re on hold with your doctor
- Four minutes of intense stair climbing on your lunch break
Why Micro Workouts?
You might think a 1-10 minute workout is a waste of time. What’s the point? The point is that 1 to 10 minutes, done several times per day, can be the equivalent of an entire workout session at the gym. But more importantly, regular micro workouts build healthy habits and a healthy mindset. Rather than making excuses for not getting to the gym, you’ll be looking for pockets of time to fit in a quick micro-exercise.
We aren’t saying to skip the gym. If you enjoy your time at the gym, don’t end that membership any time soon! Go to the gym when you have the time, and reserve micro-exercising for days when you don’t.
Who Should Incorporate Micro Workouts?
Anyone can micro-exercise! Even if you already go to the gym regularly, adding a few micro workouts daily can only help you reach your fitness goals faster. Micro workouts are ideal for people who are too busy to drive to the gym each day or would rather not splurge on the cost of a gym membership. They are also perfect for people who sit at a desk all day, lead a pretty sedentary lifestyle, or even someone looking for a quick way to manage stress. Long workouts aren’t feasible for some people because of health conditions, so smaller workouts are a must. And anyone intimidated by long, sweaty workouts will likely find micro workouts much less daunting.
The Science of Micro-Exercise
We all know that exercise of any kind is good for us. It lowers your risk for many diseases and boosts your metabolism. The key to effective micro workouts is raising your heart rate quickly. A quick, highly intense workout, even one lasting just a minute, can have benefits, sometimes even outweighing longer workouts. In one study, patients with high blood pressure could control their symptoms better with three ten-minute walks rather than one 30-minute walk. Micro workouts have also been linked to:
- Increased endurance
- Increased insulin resistance
- Improved cardiorespiratory fitness
- Lowered risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease
- Increased energy
- Decreased appetite
Fad or Future?
Surprisingly, micro-exercising isn’t something new! It’s been around for decades as a “six-minute abs” or “ten-minute strength workout.” The concept was enticing: get fit by working out for just a few minutes at a time. Videos have been sold worldwide to motivate people to work out in short bursts. Why? Because it’s effective and convenient, and most people can handle six minutes of exercise at a time. Since the concept has stood the test of time and even grown in popularity, we don’t think it’s going away anytime soon.
Our Top 5 Micro Exercising Tips
- Take advantage of brief moments throughout your day. Stand up from your desk and do a few squats or leg lifts while waiting for your coffee to brew or during commercial breaks while watching TV.
- Opt for stairs over elevators whenever possible. Climbing a few flights of stairs multiple times daily can add up to a significant mini-workout for your lower body and cardiovascular system.
- Instead of eating lunch at your desk, go for a brisk walk or engage in a quick bodyweight workout. Utilize your lunch break to get your heart rate up and recharge for the afternoon.
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is perfect for micro-exercising. Choose a couple of exercises like jumping jacks, push-ups, or burpees and perform them in short, intense bursts followed by brief rest periods. This can be done in as little as 5-10 minutes and can be incredibly effective.
- Integrate micro workouts into your daily routines. For instance, while brushing your teeth, waiting for your dinner to cook, or watching TV.
Remember, consistency is key when it comes to micro-exercising. These short bursts of activity can accumulate over time, significantly improving your fitness levels and overall well-being. Start small, gradually increase the intensity, and find ways to make micro-exercising a natural part of your daily life.
Disclaimer: This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to educate you about how to take care of your body and as a self-help tool for your own use so that you can reach your own health goals. It is not intended to treat or cure any specific illness and is not to replace the guidance provided by your own medical practitioner. This information is to be used at your own risk based on your own judgment. If you suspect you have a medical problem, we urge you to take appropriate action by seeking medical attention.
Asp, Karen. “Doing a Micro Workout Can Boost Fat Metabolism By 43%—Here’s How to Do It.” EatingWell, 16 Aug. 2021, www.eatingwell.com/article/7914117/health-benefits-micro-workouts-plus-how-to-do-it/.
Kopniske, James. “Micro Workouts, The New Fitness Trend.” Stack, 17 Dec. 2021, www.stack.com/a/micro-workouts-the-new-fitness-trend/.
Krekovskis, Janis. “What Is Micro Workout | Explained in 2 Min.” Productivity Guy, uploaded by Productivity Guy, 1 Jan. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxBZ6mha-Io.
Misiura, Maria Ph.D. “A Little Movement Is Better than None: How Small Micro-workouts Can Have a Big Impact.” Society of Behavioral Medicine, www.sbm.org/healthy-living/a-little-movement-is-better-than-none-how-small-micro-workouts-can-have-a-big-impact.
“The Science Behind Mini-Workouts.” Darebee, https://darebee.com/fitness/mini-workouts-science.html.