It would be great if we all had time for regular hour-long gym sessions every day, but sadly, life gets in the way – meetings, family commitments, and hitting the snooze button one time too many. But just because there aren’t enough hours in the week, that doesn’t mean you can’t boost your health with a short micro-workout. Here are 5 efficient 15-minute workouts that focus on body and mind – and are easy to work into a busy schedule.
Starting your day with a grounding series of yoga poses can help calm your mind in preparation for the day ahead. A sun salutation is a yoga flow sequence of 12 asanas (poses) that warm up the body without putting too much strain on your joints and muscles – and the sequence is easy to learn online or from a few classes.
Running through the sun salutation several times is an ideal 15-minute workout, and can scale from gentle introduction to strenuous exercise depending on your own abilities. These yoga poses not only increase flexibility, but can help reduce stress and improve cardio-respiratory fitness.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) involves alternating between short, intense bursts of exercise and less intense recovery periods. The reason HIIT is so popular is because these workouts have been shown to be more effective in fat loss, strength gain, and heart health than other traditional cardio training – and in less time. But it doesn’t end there. A HIIT workout increases fat-burning and energy expenditure for hours after exercise, making it one of the most effective 15-minute workouts around.
An example of a HIIT workout would be 60 seconds of intense exercise, followed by 60 seconds of active rest – that means you keep moving, not just sitting down.In between, you can introduce exercises including squats, box jumps, jumping jacks, knee-ups, lunge jumps, sprints, and everyone's favourite – the burpee!
Meditation may not be a traditional micro-workout, but it has numerous benefits for both mental and physical health, and is a powerful tool for reducing stress. A busy day at work can be mentally exhausting, and meditating for just 10 or 15 minutes at lunchtime can help pause, refresh, and create a positive outlook for the rest of the day.
Guided meditation apps make it easy to learn how to meditate – you could surprise yourself with how much better you feel afterwards, and how re-energised you are for the rest of the day.
Along with providing a rush of endorphins, cardio training can help improve heart health and reduce blood pressure. Another great thing about cardio is that unlike other strength and power training, it doesn’t matter what time of the day you work out. If you slept in too late to get to the gym before work, you can do a quick 15-minute workout in the evening and reap the same benefits.
A 15-minute jog or cycle works well, but even a brisk walk is ideal cardio. You want to be walking at a speed that leaves you slightly breathless, but you could still have a conversation.
If you want to take your 15-minute workout one step further, pick up a pair of dumbbells and try strength training. It allows you to focus on upper body, lower body and core strength, all within the comfort of your home. Strength training, naturally, helps build strength and lean muscle mass, but it also helps boost your metabolism and can help you avoid injury in other areas of exercise.
To get the most out of this workout, try it in the evening, when muscle strength, flexibility and endurance are better. Use exercises like dumbbell goblet squats and dumbbell deadlifts – these are whole-body exercises which are a more effective use of your time.
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