Finding a minute to hydrate, catch a breath and take care of you is hard in even the best possible scenarios. But right now especially it’s hard! If you’re a parent, odds are right now you are also wearing six other hats at your job, helping your kids with school and juggling keeping your house running — so having time to give yourself a bit of a workout feels like such an impossible ask. Find time? Where?
Well, there are tiny small-scale workouts (things you can tackle in under 7 minutes!) that you can do just about anywhere.
“It’s not how much time do you have — it’s what are you doing within that time,” Ashley Borden, master trainer, author, AB Fit App development tells SheKnows. “For instance, you could easily get a huge sweat going doing something as basic as 50 hand plank burpees that will kick your ass! Micro workouts won’t necessarily yield big results, as it will wake up your body and give you mini, fat blasting moments or targeted muscle work.”
Borden shares six micro workouts you can do throughout the day to keep your body engaged:
While brushing your teeth
“The best thing I can suggest is single leg balance work,” Borden says. “It’s one of the most neglected types of work with people who don’t program workouts. Balance works on your proprioception, and will also tell you which leg needs more work. You can feel your imbalances! Also, balance is one of the first thing that goes as we age. Balance helps you across the board with everything, even if you don’t work out.”
To do the single leg balance challenge, alternate hold each leg off the ground for as long as you can on each side. Need more of a challenge? Close your eyes, but keep your foot off the floor and close to the ground.
While waiting in line
Work your pelvic floor! Start with both feet flat on the floor and lift your heart. Keep your eyes on the horizon. Engage your pelvic floor by squeezing and lifting up, similar to doing a Kegel exercise. Hold for 10 seconds and then release.
While carrying groceries
“Carry your groceries equally at your side by the handle and mimic what is called a ‘farmer carry,’” Borden says. “It’s an excellent way to engage your core without putting any stress on the shoulders.”
Step 1: Hold bags at your sides and don’t bend elbows (try to distribute the weight equally).
Step 2: Keep chest lifted and core engaged.
Step 3: Walk a bit slower and try to not lose your core connection while walking.
Single bag? No problem! “It’s the same cue as above, but switch sides when you are halfway to your destination,” Borden says. “Keep shoulders squared and equal. Don’t let your body sag to one side.”
“Give yourself a squat/stretch challenge!” Borden suggests. Set a timer and every 5 minutes alternate between 5 to 10 air squats and chest stretch.
Step 1: Set feet a little wider than hip bone width apart.
Step 2: Reach arms forward.
Step 3: Reach hips back and down like you are reaching for a chair behind you.
Step 4: Push knees out and squat to a depth that feels challenging yet doable.
Step 5: Push through heels to stand and squeeze your glutes hard for 2 seconds at the top.
Neck and chest stretch:
Step 1: Grab your hands behind your low back.
Step 2: Grab one wrist and pull down on that arm.
Step 3: Hold for 10 seconds.
Step 4: Switch arms and grab opposite wrist behind your back and pull down for 10 seconds.
While doing laundry
Pushups are perfect in the laundry room. “Use your washer or drier as a high level position for push-ups,” Borden says. “Too easy? Work on your single arm push-ups!
While sitting in the car
When you are driving or parked, work your glutes. “If you are cursed to have to sit in the car for a long period of time, your glutes will shut off and feel like flabby pancakes,” Borden says. “A good way to combat glute deflation is to activate.” Squeeze both of your glute cheeks as hard as you can for 5 seconds and then release.
Next time you’re waiting in line for your car to move, you can also activate your lats by utilizing your steering wheel. Grab your steering wheel at equal positions on both sides of the wheel. Push down on the wheel and you should feel your shoulders push away from your ears and feel your lats activate. Hold for five seconds and repeat five times.
A version of this story was published July 2019.
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