Like many dads, I really struggle finding time for fitness. But several months ago, I decided that my weight was too high and my energy levels too low, so I began finding ways to fit physical activity into my hectic lifestyle. I started with walking 30 minutes most noon hours, hitting the gym early mornings on my days off and when the weather is good, biking to and from work (about 4 miles each way).
But when I travel or I have a meeting at lunch, it can be tough if not impossible to make up the time later.
So I started trying to find some exercises I could do quickly and with minimal equipment so I could do them almost any time and almost anywhere. The following quick exercises have been a real addition to my workout efforts, and I can do them in very short ten-minute blocks of time whenever I can find them.
Making fitness a priority in a busy life has its own set of challenges. There always seems to be more to do than we have time in which to do it. Particularly if a man has a demanding job and many other responsibilities at home and elsewhere, exercise and a focus on fitness can seem pretty overwhelming.
We all need to get over the mindset that exercise can only happen at the gym or recreation center, and that it takes time, the right clothing and serious equipment to make a meaningful difference in our personal fitness.
Getting fit and staying fit is more about attitude and priority than it is about exercising in the "perfect" place with the "perfect gear."
A 2014 article in Time magazine suggested that short bursts of exercise were at least as helpful as, or more helpful than, longer exercise activities. The article suggests that interval training, even if it is not as intensive as the well-known HITT training, can still make a difference for men who want to improve their personal fitness.
When you begin any effort to increase your physical activity, it's important to visit with your personal doctor to make sure that you are planning a regimen that is strenuous enough to make a difference but not so heavy that it overwhelms you. Getting in for a regular physical exam is important for every father.
Once you have the OK from your physician, it is important to follow his or her directions and ease into a new regimen. Starting too fast will not only cause pain, it can also be discouraging when you are not progressing as quickly as you think you should. Exercisers who get discouraged usually won't keep their commitments and get the benefits.
Mix and match these quick exercises in 10-minute segments and try to fit three segments in each day, for a total of 30 minutes. Or, if you are doing another fitness routine, fit these in when you can't commit the time to the regular plan.
- Push-Ups. The old tried and true push-up that we all did in middle school and high school gym classes is still one of the classics and more effective exercises that can be done in short time intervals.
- Body Weight Squat. Squats can be really quite effective at building strength and can even have aerobic benefits, and they can be done in only a few minutes.
- Reverse Lunge. Lunges have a great approach to increasing leg strength and stretching critical muscles in our legs
- Plank. Planks are easy to do - starting with toes and forearms on the ground and then extending to raise the body off of the group. Planks can really improve abdominal strength for men who do them.
- Mountain Climbers. Adding mountain climbers of your exercise regimen will help strengthen your legs and tone up your abdominal muscles. They are fairly easy to learn but they expend a lot of energy, burn calories and shore up your lower body muscle strength.