We've all been told to be more active, and we understand that exercise has tremendous benefits. But this is the real world! It can be tough to fit a fitness routine into our busy work and family schedules. Fitness professionals at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida, set out to create a workout regimen with the express goal of getting the maximum benefits from a minimum of input. Their findings, published in the American College of Sports Medicine's Health & Fitness Journal, constitute 12 different full-body exercises that together take only 7 minutes a day.
While you won't develop a movie star physique on 7 minutes a day, this workout will allow you to gain some of the benefits associate with high-intensity circuit training as well as help start you on a path to a healthier lifestyle. For maximum results, complete each exercise for 30 seconds with a 10 second break between each exercise. This timer can help keep you on track. To increase fitness levels and encourage weight loss, perform the entire workout 2 or 3 times. The 7 minutes should be uncomfortable, not easy. So push yourself, and remember it's only 7 minutes!
- Jumping Jacks Step 1: Stand with your arms at your side with your feet straight and close together. Step 2: Bend your knees, then jump up while spreading your arms and legs wide at the same time. This should be done in a fast fluid movement.
- Wall Sits Step 1: Stand with your back against a wall. Step 2: Slide down into a squat position with your back pressed against the wall. Your legs should be at a 90 degree bend. Step 3: Hold this position for 30 seconds, and keep your posture. When you get fatigued, try not to sag or slide down the wall.
- Push-ups Step 1: Start by sitting on your knees. Lean forward and place your hands and arms slightly underneath your shoulders. Step 2: Come onto the balls of your feet and the heels of your hands, and then walk the feet back until you're in the plank position. Make sure that your back is straight. Step 3: Begin to bend your elbows, lowering your body in one solid piece down towards the floor. Your elbows will bend out to the side to form a T-shape, not underneath you. Keep your abdominal and leg muscles engaged throughout the entire movement. Your head should stay in line with your spine. Step 4: Lower yourself down until your chest is about an inch or two from the ground. Then slowly push yourself back up to the starting position and repeat. Maintain a straight line with your body by not bending your back or hips. Perform as many as you can in 30 seconds.
- Abdominal Crunch Step 1: Lie on your back on a mat with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and heels a comfortable distance (12-18") away from your seat. Step 2: Place your hands behind your head. Pull your shoulder blades together and your elbows back without arching your low back or causing your ribs to splay out. Your head should be aligned with your spine. Step 3: Nod your chin slightly as you slowly curl your head and shoulders off the mat. Pull your rib cage together and toward your pelvis. Keep the neck relaxed. Your feet, tailbone, and lower back should remain in contact with the mat at all times. Continue curling up until your upper back is lifted off the mat. Perform as many as you can in 30 seconds.
- Step-up Onto Chair Step 1: Position your chair (without wheels, of course) in front of your body while your feet are about hip-width apart and arms at your side. Make sure that the seat of the chair isn't so high that you have to strain when stepping onto it. Step 2: Step up onto the chair with one foot and press down while bringing up your other foot. Step 3: Now step back with the leading foot and then bring the trailing foot down beside it. Step 4: Alternate your leading foot. Also keep your back straight upright and your abs engaged while stepping. Perform as many as you can in 30 seconds.
- Squat Step 1: Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and lower your hips (almost like you're sitting in a chair). Step 2: Bend your knees while swinging your arms out in front of you. Your thighs will be parallel with the floor. Ensure your knees don't go beyond your toes and look straight ahead. Step 3: Stand back up to start position and repeat for 30 seconds.
- Triceps Dip Using a Chair Step 1: Begin by sitting in a sturdy chair. Hold onto the front of the seat of the chair as you scoot your hips and feet out. Your hands should now be behind you. This is the starting position. Step 2: While keeping your back close to the chair, slowly lower yourself by bending at the elbows. Pause when your elbows are at 90 degrees to your shoulders. Return to the starting position and repeat for 30 seconds.
- Plank Step 1: Start off in the push-up position, then lower both forearms to the ground so that both your elbows and hands are flat on the ground. Step 2: Maintain your weight on your forearms and curled toes or the balls of your feet. Make sure your body is straightened out (like you are a plank of wood). Maintain a straight line without bending your back or hips. Step 3: Flex your abdominals and squeeze your glutes. Hold the position for 30 seconds.
- High Knees/Running in Place Step 1: Stand in place with your feet hip-width apart. Step 2: Drive your knee toward your chest quickly and place it back to the ground, then quickly alternate knees. Continue to alternate for 30 seconds.
- Lunges Step 1: Stand up straight while placing your hands on your hips. Step 2: Take a big step forward with one leg, then proceed to bend your knee to a 90 degree angle. Your front thigh should be parallel to the floor. Your back knee should hover barely off the ground, if you can. Step 3: While keeping your weight on your front leg, proceed to push yourself back up to the starting position. Step 4: Alternate your leg and repeat for 30 seconds.
- Push-up and Rotation Step 1: Start in the push-up plank position Step 2: Perform a push-up then shift your weight to one side. Step 3: Rotate your body and raise your arm, extending it all the way toward the sky. Your shoulder blades should pinch together and your torso twisted, but do not bend or sag at the hips. Step 4: Return to starting position, repeat and alternate on each side for 30 seconds.
- Side Plank Step 1: Begin by lying on your right side with your right elbow directly lined under your shoulder. Maintain balance with your forearm as needed. Step 2: Keeping your feet on the floor, lift your hips off the floor and support your body with your forearm. Maintain a straight light from your shoulders, through your hips, down to your ankles without sagging or bending at the hip. Step 3: Hold for three seconds and slowly lower your right hip onto the floor. Switch sides and repeat. 5 side planks per each side of your body will equal 30 seconds.