A recent study by Nuffield Health reports that more than 50 per cent of women do not get any vigorous exercise.
Understandably, the main barriers are lacking motivation, getting out of the habit of not exercising during the lockdown, lack of time due to work and busy lives in general. But what is vigorous exercise? Essentially, it’s an activity that makes you breathe faster and harder to the point you can only say a few words without pausing for a breath. So, it’s any aerobic exercise that gets your heart pumping such as running, swimming, or cycling.
Of course, if you’re spinning lots of plates or filled with dread at the thought of exercising, the last thing you’ll want to do is sign up for that energetic class or get to the nearest swimming pool. But the good news is, you don’t need a gym, personal trainer, or any fancy equipment to get your daily dose of health-boosting vigorous moves. All you need is to set aside 10-15 minutes for yourself – think of it as having a bit of fun, to let those feel-good hormones pump through your veins. These exercises can be done by anyone, yes men, I’m talking to you too.
With that in mind, set a timer and try these:
■ High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is performing vigorous exercises in short bursts of maximum effort, broken up with rest. Do as many star jumps, running on the spot or burpees as fast as you can in one minute. Rest for 15 seconds and repeat until your timer is up. Try alternating star jumps with burpees for a little variety.
■ Walk up and down a flight of stairs. Start off slowly and pick up your speed but be mindful not to slip.
■ Jog around the block, in the park or up and down the street. If you can, increase your pace, and pound the pavements.
■ Try skipping and use that rope to channel your inner child. Or try a fitness app with challenges like a 30-day skipping rope challenge, which is suitable for all fitness levels.
■ Pretend that you are a boxer and practise
throwing some uppercuts and jabs in the air. Dig deep and give the punches some power. Feel your heart working.
■ If you’ve always fancied running or want to get back into it, get running with ‘Couch to 5K’, which is a fabulous nine-week running plan for beginners, and you’ll be smashing personal bests before you know it.
For each exercise gradually build up slowly. No matter where you are on your fitness journey, it’s never too late to start now or get back on track. All you need is 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week to get health benefits. And most activities can become vigorous if you put in a little bit more effort.
Exercising with friends can help your motivation and provide an extra boost for your mood and mental health; so why not meet a friend in the park for a quick jog or try the above exercises? Remember, warm-up and cool down stretches will prevent injuries and keep you flexible. Do what you can to begin with. You’ve got this. As legendary boxer Gene Tunney once said, “Exercise should be regarded as a tribute to the heart.”