“I’m too busy to exercise.” I understand. As someone who lives in the gym, training others and myself, I can’t exactly relate, but I understand. Now, I could try and convince you that you can make the time to commit to an extended time slot during the day to exercise, and I think I can do a pretty darn good job at doing so, but that’s for another article. The purpose of this article is to suggest doing something called fit breaks, which are 0.167-10-minute bouts of exercise which you can disperse throughout your day and reap awesome benefits. Now you’re probably thinking, “0.167? What’s with that oddly specific number?” I will get to that.
What Are Fit Breaks?
Well, it’s in the name. “Fit” and “breaks”. It is taking breaks to engage in fitness. Let’s say you’ve been sitting for an hour or two at your desk, hard at work, and you feel mentally fatigued. If you just get up from your seat to exercise for a short period, you are engaging in a fit break. By this definition, walking over to the washroom or coffee machine would count as a fit break. However, we can and should do more than this. With whatever space and surrounding items you have, there are plenty of exercises which are not only functional but fun. Different exercises carry their unique benefits but share benefits as well. As someone who cares about your health, I want you to reap these benefits.
Logistics are the most important factor in exercise selection because you need to know what you’re working with so you can know what you can work out with. For starters, there is a high chance that you have a chair in your work environment. If you are sitting in one right now, I challenge you to stand up but keep your feet still. Did you do it? Great. Now sit down, but in a slow and controlled manner, while keeping your feet planted to the ground. Now repeat the process nine more times. How do your legs feel? A little bit tired, I assume. Congratulations, you just did a set of chair squats. How long did it take you? Not long at all, I assume. This may not help you develop monstrously strong and big quads, but you are engaging in a strength-building exercise. This is a step up from never engaging in any exercise which functionally strengthens your thighs. Plus, practicing the movement will make it easier to get up from your chair. This occurs on a neurological level when accounting for how the nervous system builds up habits and learns skills, and on a physiological level for becoming functionally stronger in this position, since getting up and sitting down on a chair is something we all do, but can be increasingly difficult as we age and weaken.
As for more cardiorespiratory-dominant exercises, one that comes to mind is punching the air. Seriously. I am not recommending this to make you look goofy, although it can be a great way to build confidence and shake off the fear of people judging you. I recommend this because jumping jacks, running on the spot, and jumping onto a table can be disruptive, as these can make a lot of noise and shake the floor. When punching the air, you can remain seated, or stand in a staggered or quarter squat position and just unload in a very cathartic manner. The fact that this is cathartic without requiring tons of effort/skill hones in on the benefit of causing stress relief and improving mood. It certainly beats lashing out in anger! I should also mention that cardiorespiratory-dominant exercises are advantageous in improving mood compared to strength exercises, but both can help you improve your mood to some extent. I recommend doing both to reap their unique benefits.
The most important concepts behind exercise selection are choosing exercises that are logistically compatible with your space, and having both cardiorespiratory-dominant and strength-dominant exercises to reap the unique benefits of both. If it will not cause a disturbance in your space, feel free to jump around! If you have stairs you can use, run up a flight of stairs! Or ten! Or jump up those stairs! Do push-ups if you have the floor space for it. Do pull-ups if you have a bar which you can wedge into a door frame. Lunges, squats, glute bridges, dancing, punching the air, kicking the air, you name it. Make it fun! Improve your mood! Prevent cardiovascular diseases and cancer! The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) guidelines state that 150 minutes a week is the recommended minimum dosage of exercise for adults. That equates to just over 20 minutes of exercise per day. Taking a few “fit breaks” each day will allow you to easily reach more than 20 minutes of exercise daily.
How This May Look in Your Schedule
Breakfast, drop off kids at school
9:00-10:50 AM: Work
10:50-11:00 AM: Fit break
- 10 chair squats
- 20 push-ups (you can rest in between reps)
- 30 seconds of punching the air
- 30 seconds of arm circles
- 20 lateral lunges
11:00 AM-12:50 PM: Work
12:55-1:25 PM: Lunch
1:30-3:20 PM: Work
3:20-3:30 PM: Fit break
- 10 glute bridges
- 20 forward-step lunges
- 30 seconds of bicycle crunches
- 30 seconds of side-stepping
- 10 chair squats
3:30-5:00 PM: Work5:00PM: Work
Spend time with your family, or whatever evening activities you have.
This is a very generalized example that is meant to give you an idea of how it could practically work in your schedule. Perhaps you may not be able to carve out 10 minutes to engage in a fit break. But there may be 10 seconds (or 0.167 minutes) that you can set aside many times a day to do some chair squats, side steps, or air punches. Even a little bit of exercise is better than none. So my bottom line is this: get active. There is always a way to do so.
A Little Is Better Than None, But More Is Better Than a Little
“But I’m busy!” I understand. By “more”, I am not suggesting a lot more time, but rather, more guidance. Even by taking the time to read this article, you have gained some guidance. If you would like even more guidance, you could train with us in a fast-paced, short (22 minutes to be exact, hence our studio’s name), and effective (we’ve got some charming technology) manner with knowledgeable fitness professionals to accommodate your busy schedule but still help you go deeper in your fitness journey. Please contact us if you would like to do so. We are here for you, wanting the very best for you.
Gavin Fan, BHK, NSCA-CPT
Your trainer at Sweat 22 EMS studio
For more details regarding fit breaks, watch this video!