Try this low-impact winter workout for busy people

Learn three simple exercises to complete a scientifically proven workout that can fit into anyone’s holiday schedule

(Video: Alexa Juliana Ard/The Washington Post)

What most of us need from vacation exercise is easy and short. Which makes this new, scientific workout a timely gift.

It’s a simple, 11-minute, three-exercise routine designed to be low-impact but aerobically challenging enough to maintain or boost fitness, no matter how busy your vacations are. The workout, recently developed by exercise scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, involves standard calisthenic exercises that many of us should do, regardless of our age, experience, coordination or fitness.

All you need to get started is an open space, comfortable clothes and shoes, and a one-minute timer. Warm up with one minute of jumping jacks and then start the sequence. Complete as many repetitions of each exercise as you can manage in one minute.

(Video: Alexa Juliana Ard/The Washington Post)

From standing, get down on the floor, legs under your chest, hands on the ground. Extend and straighten your legs. Draw them back. Stand up. Repeat for 60 seconds. When you’re done, recover for 60 seconds by walking in place, so your breathing, heart rate and muscles can rest for a while.

(Video: Alexa Juliana Ard/The Washington Post)

While standing, hold your hands in front of you. Raise your left knee until it touches your hands. Return your foot to the ground. Repeat. After 30 seconds, switch legs. When you’re done, recover with a 60-second walk in place.

(Video: Alexa Juliana Ard/The Washington Post)

From all fours, kick one leg back, then the other, as if climbing a horizontal slope. Repeat for 60 seconds. When you’re done, walk in place for 60 seconds of recovery.

(Video: Alexa Juliana Ard/The Washington Post)

Repeat 60 seconds of knee tucks, followed by 60 seconds of walking in place.

(Video: Alexa Juliana Ard/The Washington Post)

Repeat 60 seconds of squat thrusts. You’re done!

Why body-weight workouts are good for you

These exercise exercises were specifically chosen by the researchers to engage the muscles of the upper and lower body without too much impact on the joints, said Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University, who help develop and learn new exercise.

The routine, on the whole, is relatively knee-friendly, he said, because it involves minimal jumping or stomping, although there is some bending.

The goal is to push yourself outside of your physical comfort zone in those 60 seconds, says Gibala, who scores about a 7 or 8 on a 10-point effort scale. This effort qualifies as vigorous in exercise-science terms, meaning it is more strenuous than, say, a brisk walk, which is considered moderate effort.

This workout grew out of previous research by Gibala and other scientists on what makes a bodyweight routine effective.

Ideally, these types of workouts should raise your heart rate to or near the vigorous range for at least 10 minutes, Gibala said. They should also engage muscles throughout the body, he said, in the legs, core and upper body.

In this way, exercise can challenge your cardiovascular system and muscles enough that they adapt and grow stronger, he said.

An improvement over other exercises

In 2021, an earlier, slightly more rigorous 11-minute body-weight workout by Gibala and his colleagues significantly improved aerobic fitness in a group of healthy college students, who completed three exercise sessions in a week for six weeks.

But that workout, which includes burpees, sprints in place, and split squat jumps, can easily overstrain some people’s fitness and mature knee joints, researchers speculate. .

So, researchers substituted some milder exercises and retested the new workout for a study published last November in Scientific Reports. This time, 27 healthy young men and women were strapped to heart rate and glucose monitors, so researchers could assess their heart rates, 24-hour blood sugar control and other physiological measures. during their normal lives.

Then, a few days later, wearing the same monitor, they squat, hide and climb a mountain for an 11-minute workout.

The single workout raised their heart rates into a vigorous zone for about 11 minutes. It can be an effective workout, as long as you maintain the intensity with each exercise, says Gibala.

The task had little effect on 24-hour blood sugar control, perhaps because the young people tested started out with such stable, healthy blood sugar levels, Gibala said.

So, find an empty space in your house or hotel room as the holidays get busy and push yourself for five minutes of exercise and five more walks. Pick up speed if the exercises are too easy. Or swap out one or two of them for more demanding calisthenics like jumping jacks or high-knee running, assuming your joints and endurance allow.

Above all, allow yourself to enjoy the workout, says Gibala. It’s easy to do in a group, he pointed out. So, invite visiting relatives to join. Take restless children for a ride. See who can do the most repetitions of each exercise in one minute or encourage each other to finish that last squat thrust. The goal is to keep the holidays healthy, and to be happy.

Videos by Alexa Juliana Ard. Copy editing by Matt Schnabel. Exercises presented by Allison Tye, a certified personal trainer in Las Vegas.

Do you have a fitness question? Email and we may answer your question in a future column.

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