Wait! Before you dismiss the topic, please hear me out. The one-minute workout can be a game-changer for people of all fitness levels. I'll be the first to admit that I used to mentally roll my eyes at the idea of catching snippets of exercise here and there. Every year around the holidays there's that inevitable article on how to fit in exercise, and every year I would ask the same question. Has anyone, literally anyone, actually done squats while waiting in line somewhere? While I won't be doing bicep curls with my almond milk at the grocery store anytime soon, I have come to embrace the power of the micro-workout. It has proven to be one of the more essential and oft-used tools in my toolbox when it comes to getting and staying on track with my health and wellness goals.
Who might benefit from a one-minute workout? Consider it an option if:
- Your schedule has disrupted your workout routine.
- Your schedule has disrupted your intention of starting a workout routine.
- You sit in front of a computer for much of the day.
- Your finding it hard to focus after sitting in front of a computer much of the day.
- You have discovered that you're only at 247 steps...at 3:15 pm.
- You haven't exercised in a while....or ever.
Taking on health and wellness goals can be a challenge when we have things like life and work (or a pandemic) getting in the way. In just the last few weeks as my work schedule has picked up and my calendar fills, I found myself where I've been many times before - suddenly without my favorite time to run and a disrupted routine. There was a time when I didn't roll with changes like these very quickly, preferring to wait for things to work out instead. During one particular lengthy stretch of waiting, I was lamenting my rapid decline in fitness to a trainer friend who recommended I set the alarm every hour to get up and do 5 minutes of exercise (cue internal eye roll.) I thanked him for the suggestion, went back to work, and continued my impressive streak of non-exercise.
Then I read an article that forever shifted my perspective on these micro-workouts. The article was about a woman with a new desk job who found herself sitting more than ever. To counter this new reality, she decided to start taking plank breaks. During her workday, she did a one-minute plank every hour on the hour. It added up to eight minutes a day. By Friday, she had accumulated 40 minutes of planks. At the end of the two weeks, she had logged an impressive 80 minutes (yay math!). Without changing anything else, there were visible differences in her physique. She also noted other unexpected changes from taking these short breaks away from the computer like feeling refreshed and an increased focus.It was enough for me to realize that while I was waiting to do my usual 30-60+ minutes, I was doing 0 minutes. So, I pulled that trainer suggestion out of my back pocket, set my alarm to go off hourly, and found several five-minute routines through an exercise app. "This is better than nothing" became my new mantra, which meant sometimes, I only had time for 2 minutes, other times I ignored that alarm and caught the next hour (i.e., I didn't beat myself up over not doing it hourly. I did something, and that's what counted.). I discovered that by taking that step to do SOMETHING, it spurred me to do more over time.Fast forward a few years, and I'm happy to say I "this is better than nothing’d” my way back into shape, back to running, and back to a marathon quest I only kind of sort of entertained in the previous 10 years. I have done this all through schedule changes, job changes, and the pandemic. Disruptions in my routine now last days, not months (or years).
Speaking of disruptions, after a week of not exercising, I remembered that article. I decided that while I didn't have time for the usual workout, my schedule could accommodate one-minute planks between calls. And, wouldn't you know, after just two days and 11 minutes of exercise, I was inspired to take another look at my calendar to see what’s possible. I now saw options where I couldn't (or wasn't willing to) see them before. It turns out that I can adjust how far I run, or I can walk my dog, or I can run at night. Where it felt like there were no options a week ago, I now have at least three moving forward, and they are all superior to doing nothing at all.
To recap, why should you consider the one-minute workout?
Doing something will always be better than doing nothing.
Doing something, no matter how small, will add up over time.
Doing something inspires more action than inertia ever will.
Doing something can help you bring more focus and energy to your work.
Doing something can help you see possibilities where you couldn’t before.
Need some ideas? Consider:
- Getting outside for some fresh air
- Going outside with a pet
- Pushups (one minute will never feel so long)
- Mindful breathing
- Adjusting your posture at the computer (slumped or core-engaged?)
Whether you could use some physical activity, a break from your screen, or just some mindful moments in your day, consider taking a one-minute workout break, and see where it takes you.
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– Jeanne Torre, MSW, LCSW, NBC-HWC
Health Advisor | Email Jeanne