You may have heard of the intermittent fasting diet. I’m a big fan, but have you heard of intermittent workouts?
Also known as “trigger workouts” intermittent exercise is the concept of adding spurts of exercise moves throughout your day.
This format has been around for years, but it’s gaining popularity in the age of coronavirus as most of us are spending the majority of our time at home rather than being out and about.
Everyone should give this workout a try at home
I consider myself a pretty active person. Before the onset of this global pandemic, I worked out almost every day; I traveled and commuted a lot, and I walked A LOT. My pre-coronavirus step average was about 14,000 to 15,000 steps a day. Now that I’m staying home practicing social distancing, my activities have taken quite a large dip. I’m still an active person—I still workout every day and try to keep myself moving around at home—but in no way is my energy expenditure near the same as before. I’m lucky to get 5,000 steps a day now.
This is why the idea of intermittent workouts piqued my interest. Intermittent workouts are micro-exercise routines. Initially meant to trigger certain muscles before intense exercises, trigger workouts also can be a very effective format of daily exercise. Here are the reasons why.
Increases overall activity
I started doing intermittent workouts back in August in an effort to increase my daily physical activity. Doing my hour workouts a few times a week just wasn’t cutting it. I started by picking four simple exercise movements—five push-ups, five ab crunches, five pull-ups, 10 jumping jacks, and 10 lunges. I then assigned them to different places in my apartment—the kitchen (push-ups and crunches), the bedroom (pull-ups), bathroom (jumping jacks), and the hallway (lunges). I even wrote the exercises and how many reps I did on little hot pink Post-Its and placed them in a visible spot near the assigned area, so I have a visual reminder.
The result? I found myself averaging about 50 push-ups, 45 crunches, 60 jumping jacks, 25 pull-ups, and 60 lunges a day. This was all without feeling like I was working out since it was spread out throughout my day. Not bad for not “working out.” So, while we’re all arguably less mobile, intermittent workouts have allowed me to increase my daily activity within the comforts of my home.
Increases focus and productivity
Do you know that amazing feeling when you check off a task on your to-do list? That sense of accomplishment? I love that feeling. I love knowing that I’m doing a little bit of exercise here and there that add up at the end of the day. Personally, the tally gives me a sense of accomplishment of getting things done.
On the other side, non-stop working also doesn’t necessarily mean you are productive. I have so many clients who are suffering from work-from-home burnout, because they’re not able to take breaks. When we worked at our offices, we would typically take breaks to walk, go to the restroom, talk to a coworker, eat lunch, or grab some coffee. Those short breaks allow for regrouping and recharging but are unfortunately not so common for those working from home now. Doing these little spurts of exercises allow you to step away from your laptop or phone even just for a few seconds which in turn, promotes focus, boosts creativity and productivity, and prevents mental burnout.
It is sustainable because it is manageable. Routine exercise can seem so daunting at times. The thought of blocking off an hour a day for pure intense exercise is not always easy, even for veterans like me. Intermittent workouts are not daunting, and it doesn’t cause too much stress on the body. Do a few push-ups when you go to the living room. Do a set of jumping jacks every time you go to the bathroom. You’ll rack up some considerable activity without you even breaking a sweat. When it seems fairly effortless, we are more likely to continue doing it.
Between the pandemic and other burdens we’ve all had to face so far this year, the last thing we need is more stress. Intermittent exercise works out your muscles, strengthens your bones, builds connective tissue, and clears your mind without activating the body’s stress response. With all of this in mind, intermittent workouts are not meant to replace your exercise routine, but rather it’s a very viable option for all of us to be move actively.
Sounds to me like it’s the perfect form of exercise for current times.