A common question I come across is, “what should be done in between workout sessions?” Let’s say for example you are able to do aerobic and strength training on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Now depending on your goals, that is a fantastic start. If you are working on losing weight or simply want to achieve optimal health, then it is a great idea to have some sort of aerobic exercise on 2 more days during the week. Here are some activities that you could incorporate into your week.
Quick high intensity activities:
Perform a dynamic warm-up for 5 minutes before starting any of these activities.
Sprint – determine a distance between 40 and 60 meters and sprint to it. Walk back to your starting position and then sprint again to the distance you have chosen. There are many ways to manipulate how you do your sprints, you could opt to do multiple sprints before resting or rest in between. Really depends on what your goals are.
Perform a full body exercise or multiple exercises in a circuit on an interval timer – some exercise examples are burpees, mountain climbers, jump squats, and planks. The interval timer just means you will work for “x” amount of seconds and rest for “y” amount of seconds. So for example you could do mountain climbers for 20s and then rest for 20s. Repeat 5 times and I guarantee your heart will be going. You will have to experiment with your work to rest ratio based on your current fitness level.
Run up a set of stairs – this could be done in your house, outdoors, or even the stairs of your apartment building. This is a great way to challenge yourself and get your heart rate going. Run up your set amount of steps and walk back down. Generally aim for stairs with 13 – 15 steps and keep your effort high. An example of how you could incorporate this is to sprint up a staircase with 12 steps, 1 foot on each step, then walk back down. Go up and down continuously 4 – 5 times before taking a break. Repeat 3 – 4 times.
Ride a bike – now that winter has arrived that pretty much takes away the idea of doing this outside for the time being, however if you have access to an upright stationary bike this can be done still. When doing this as a high intensity activity, you will need to follow an interval format. There are many different ways to set up these intervals, but in general you want to work hard for a set amount of time and then reduce the resistance and recover. When starting out I recommend a 1:1 work ratio or even a 1:2 ratio depending on your current level of fitness. Just remember that the work portion should be quite difficult.
The most efficient way to achieve your fitness goals is through bouts of high intensity exercises (unless you are training for a marathon/triathlon).
However, these high intensity exercises are not for everyone. I understand that you may have a medical condition, past injuries, or you could be too deconditioned to safely doing these exercises. Perhaps you just don’t find any of the above to be enjoyable. This is understandable and definitely not the end of the world!
Here are a few activities you could do to either build up to the high intensity exercises or to simply help you maintain.
Walk – this is one of the most basic activities you can do. When you decide to make walking an exercise, you need to walk with a purpose. What I mean by that is you should be exerting yourself to a point where your heart rate is noticeably increased and you may even begin to sweat.
Play a sport you enjoy – this is as simple as shooting some hoops, dribbling a soccer ball around, playing catch with a partner, or hitting a racquetball by yourself, it really doesn’t matter. Find what you enjoy doing and regardless of whether you are very good at it or not, have some fun! To take this up another level you could also consider joining a rec league for your sport of choice.
Go for a jog – while not as intense as sprinting, this is a wonderful way to elevate your heart rate and improve your cardio.
Swim – great for your overall fitness and health. One of the advantages of swimming is that it is easy on your joints. So if running or jogging is too painful or just not doable, I definitely recommend swimming.
Take a dance class – this can be a fun way to learn something new and be active. Even if you swear you were born with two left feet, you may be surprised with how much you enjoy it. You could be a great dancer and not even know it!
Snow shoeing or hiking – for those that love the outdoors. Be sure to bring enough water with you and watch out for wildlife!
These are just a few of the ways you can kick up your daily activity and lead a healthier lifestyle. Feel free to use your own imagination to come up with activities to perform. Now what are you waiting for? Go and get active!
Have your own favorite way to keep active? Let me know in a comment below!
Top image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono