Exercise in short bursts to hit target

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Back at work after the summer break? Back at college or school? This time of year can be exciting – new starts, returning refreshed after a break – but it can also be a time when the exercise routine you began in spring or summer can come under threat.

Decreasing hours of light means that going for a run or a bike ride after work becomes tricky. The darker mornings are less conducive to getting out and doing exercise before the day begins. So how do you still fit your recommended amount of exercise (150 minutes/week) into your busy schedule?

One answer is to break it into smaller chunks of time. While this is not the exercise regime for someone training for a marathon, staying fit for a team sport or bulking up for a weight-lifting competition, it is a good compromise for those people who just want to stay as mobile, fit and active as possible.

It is rather like taking a cigarette or coffee break but with your substance of choice being exercise.

Here is one way you can easily fit 150 minutes of exercise into your working week. There are many, many variations but this gives an idea. All the exercise ideas here are very simple and require no additional equipment, although you will probably want a change of clothes.

Day One

Before work: Run up and down the stairs for three minutes, then do 20 push-ups, 20 lunges and 20 crunchies (5 minutes total)

Mid-morning break: Go for a brisk walk, quick enough to make you breathless (10 minutes)

Lunchtime: Change into leisure wear. Find a park or grassy area and mark out 5, 10 and 15 metres. Now do shuttle runs 5 x 5m, 5 x 10 m and 5 x 15 m. Do 10 burpees and then repeat (10 minutes)

Afternoon break: Find a set of stairs and do five minutes going up and down. At the bottom and top of the stairwell do five squats each time. (5 minutes).

Day TwoBroga Yoga fitness class

Before work: In the garden or on the street, do side steps, spotty dogs, star jumps and running high knee lifts (5 minutes)

Mid-morning break: Find a quiet spot and do ‘salute the sun’ yoga moves for five minutes. (5 minutes)

Lunchtime: Change into leisure wear. Go for a 15 minute gentle jog – not enough to get unpleasantly sweaty if you do not have shower facilities, but enough to make you breathless. (15 minutes)

Afternoon break: Find a bench and do 20 tri-cep dips, 20 step-ups onto the bench, 20 angled press-ups with your hands on the bench; repeat for 15 of each exercise and then 10. (5 minutes)

Day Three

Before work: Do 20 mountain climbers, 20 squat-thrusts, 20 cycling crunchies. Repeat for 15 and 10 (5 minutes)

Mid-morning break: Go for a brisk walk, stopping every minute to do 10 lunges or deep squats. (10 minutes)

Lunchtime: Change into leisure wear and find a park or quiet street. Jog for 1 minute. Now try to get back to your starting point in under a minute. Repeat five times (10 mins)

Afternoon break: Find a quiet place and a clean carpet/floor! Do a series of stomach and abdominal exercises for five minutes (5 minutes)

Day Four

Before work: Go for a brisk walk, include steps or stairs if possible (5 minutes)

Mid-morning break: Find a quiet place and do one minute of marching on the spot followed by 10 push-ups. Repeat five times (5 minutes)

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Lunchtime: Change into leisure wear and go for gentle 15 minute walk/jog (15 mins)

Afternoon break: Find a quite place and do the ‘plank’ for one minute. Now get into a squat position and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat the plank twice more, interspersing it with two 45 second squat holds. (5 minutes)

Day Five

Before work: Do the following sequence: 10 burpees, 10 push-ups, 10 lunges, 10 tri-cep dips (using a stable chair or bench). Repeat five times (5 minutes)

Mid-morning break: Find a set of stairs and walk briskly up and down for seven minutes. Follow with three minutes of downward dog to upward dog yoga moves (10 minutes)

Lunchtime; Change into leisure wear and go for gentle 15 minute jog. If you feel like it, add some short sprints.

Enjoy the weekend, safe in the knowledge that you have earned a break!