From the Heart and Stroke Foundation

You know you should be more active, but sometimes it's tough to squeeze a full hour of physical activity into your busy schedule. Well, here’s some good news: a number of studies show that you can stay in shape and burn enough calories to stay heart healthy, maintain or lose weight by doing mini-workouts throughout the day. In fact, research has shown that short bouts of exercise - as few as three 10-minute sessions – can be more effective than a 30-minute session provided the level of effort remains the same. Here's are some simple ways to squeeze 10 minutes of activity throughout your day. Before starting a physical activity program, speak with your healthcare provider.

At home
Hit the stairs.Use a chair. Create a 10-minute routine that uses your stairs for cardiovascular activity and your chair for strength training. Try this:

  • Walk up and down your stairs briskly for two minutes.
  • Find a chair in your home that has four legs with non-slip pads and sits on a wooden surface. Hold the back of the chair for balance and squat up and down for one minute.
  • Stand at arms-length from the wall; place your hands at chest level on the wall. Bend your elbows and push back and forth for one minute.
  • Alternate each exercise until you reach 10 minutes.

On the road
Make a splash. Whether travelling on business or pleasure, most hotels have pools.

  • Swim laps for two minutes.
  • Grab the side of the pool and do two minutes of flutter kicks.
  • Alternate until you reach 10 minutes.

If you’re not a swimmer, ask about other hotel amenities such as a fitness centre or running track. Alternatively, look for a safe, local park or walking trail and hoof it for 10 minutes.

At your workplace
Step on it. Do you spend most of your day sitting or standing in one place? Take time to get up and move throughout the day. Your workplace is full of spaces that may help get you active.

  • Take the stairs, instead of the elevator, every time you have to reach a certain floor – in the morning when you arrive or meeting with colleagues throughout the day. (No stairs? Walk around the perimeter of your building.)
  • At your work station, get your heart rate up by marching on the spot, stepping side to side, or doing some low impact jumping jacks.
  • Alternate each exercise until you reach 10 minutes.

This physical activity column was written by a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor and reviewed by Foundation experts.

Posted June 2009

Heart and Stroke Foundation

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© - 2009. Reproduced with permission of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada