minimum exercise

Ultimate Guide to Minimum Exercise and At-home Workouts [Winning in 2021]

I started looking for minimum exercise at a very young age.

Jane Fonda didn’t inspire me.

Olivia Newton John’s exquisite physique didn’t move me.

I only watched Anna Kournikova and Cindy Crawford at-home workouts once.

I think SoulCycle is appalling.

If you ask me, the whole approach to exercising for women is falsely advertised. It’s like you have to exercise to be beautiful, young, and skinny.

When and why did we leave out the fun part?

Early on, I decided these were not my priorities in life and this completely turned me away from exercising. I completely shut it out. Until much later, that is.

Why I started exercising again and what at-home workouts I do now is an interesting story.

Read about my journey and different methods that can help you.

Why do at-home workouts at all?

As a child I really liked playing outside with my friends, just carelessly running around, goofing off. I liked running because it was actually fun. In summer I enjoyed swimming and in winter ice-skating.  I guess you could say I was sporty.

My first real experience with structured exercise was in school. Exercises got names, and our performance was measured and evaluated. I didn’t like that at all.

From then on, I started to dislike any workouts because it was burdened with a lot of expectations. You either had to perform well to get good grades, win a trophy in a school competition, or lose weight. None of these were inspiring for the younger me.

Where has the fun gone?

So I slowly stopped doing at-home workouts altogether. I took an exercising hiatus.

Like many people, now I see it as a nuisance, close to a dentist appointment on a discomfort scale. I have to play heavy-duty mind games with myself just to roll out the yoga mat. I am fully aware that I waste a considerable amount of time on pre-exercising inner pep talk than on actual exercising. How sad.

But, after years of working from home as a freelance writer, I realized there’s no way around it.

You can’t not exercise full stop.

With age, all people develop one or another medical condition that could have been avoided or minimized with a little dose of daily exercise. I am not talking about having problems at a really old age but at the young age of 40.

Working from home only accelerated the appearance of some of my symptoms. Sitting all the time, staring at a computer screen, slouching, not going outside, and so on, lead me to a sore neck, back pain, joint paint, bad eyesight, depression, pre-diabetes, etc.

I realized I needed some kind of minimum exercise regime not to stay skinny, but to stay alive. It was high time for at-home workouts.

Benefits of minimum exercise

I made a conscious decision to do minimum exercise not to lose weight, and be beautiful like so many ads advertise, but to grow older without a hip replacement, to improve my brain function, and uplift my mood.

I read about many pros of at-home workouts over the years: decreased stress, increased energy levels, better circulation, better sleep, better mood, keeping away diseases, etc. The pro list is impressive.

A 2000 Research Article showed that minimal exercise leads to emotional change, self-image, and physical change in obese women leading sedentary lifestyles. Their self-motivation was low, but the maintenance rates were high.

Madinamerica reports that minimal exercise protects against depressive symptoms in older adults. According to a new study published in The British Medical Journal persistent (3 times a week) low-volume at-home workouts (up to 15 minutes) prevents depression.

World Health Organization recommends doing at least 150 minutes per week of leisure time activity (walking, gardening). This is roughly 20 minutes of moderate physical activity per day, which sounds achievable for everyone. This prevents all sorts of aches, but also promotes longevity.

“We need less exercise than we think.”

Harvard Health Publishing

I strongly advise watching Wendy Suzuki’s TED Talk on The brain-changing benefits of exercise. She is a neuroscientist whose research proves the many benefits of exercise.

According to science, you can choose short and age-friendly minimum exercise and reap the benefits because every activity counts. Minimum exercise is better than no exercise. At-home workouts count.

walking as minimum exercise
Photo by Clique Images on Unsplash

Why choose bare minimum exercise?

It seems to me that when it comes to exercising you have 3 choices: do nothing at all, do a bare minimum or kill it, go pro.

I have already tried the first option, and it wasn’t a winner. I wouldn’t recommend living without minimal exercise. You can do it, of course. But, only until a doctor stops you and tells you to have to change your habits, or else…

The last option, doing at-home workouts on full throttle was also out of the question. I like the results, but not the lifestyle that goes with it. I simply lack the willpower and time to commit to a grueling schedule. Also, it doesn’t look fun. Have you seen triathlon athletes at the finish line?

So, we’re left with door number 2 — do bare minimum at-home workouts. It checks all the boxes. It requires minimum effort and offers health benefits. Win-win.

Scientific studies prove that minimum exercise and at-home workouts is the right choice.  Doctors always warn us about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. Bare Minimum Exercise is the way to go.

What type of minimum exercise to choose?

I had 3 requirements: no sweat, no equipment, and no time. It’s what every WFH employee wants; the bare minimum at-home workouts.

No sweat requirement is on the list to make sure I don’t do anything stupid, like running a marathon or trying to imitate The Rock or Marky Mark. I’m just not a morning person.

No equipment is here only because I live in a small rental apartment so acquiring big exercise machines is a no-go. I will forever envy Julia Roberts for running on a treadmill every evening in Conspiracy Theory. The same thing can be said about the water rower machine from House of Cards. But, a girl can dream.

No time is on the list because I’m super busy, like everybody else on the planet. This means my ideal exercise is done indoors. I don’t want to ride to a gym on the other side of the city. Heck, I don’t want to leave the room. I don’t want to spend an hour stretching or post-workout relaxing. The minimum exercise has to be efficient in every sense of the word. At-home workouts are the way.

I did a lot of research over the years and tried a lot of different exercise routines. Like a fitness fanatic, some may say (who don’t know me very well).

I tend to over-research everything, so I consulted many scientific studies, tips from celebrities, even royals, just to make sure I’m on the right path. I find taking tips from celebs useful in all aspects of life because they have access to top professionals. I may not have the money for private at-home workouts with top trainers, but thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow for example, I can watch her at-home workouts with Tracy Anderson. I could have spent thousands of dollars before realizing that’s not for me. Thanks, Goop!

So, after a lot of research, these at-home workouts came to the top. And, after a lot of trials and errors, this is what stuck. This is crème de la crème of at-home workouts and bare minimum exercise.

JUST PLANK

I started doing just plank and nothing else almost a decade ago. I was in a rut, feeling uninspired to exercise or try something new. But, I knew I had to do something. Then a friend of mine suggested trying the plank. I knew what he was talking about and thought that he was kidding.

What do you mean, just a plank? You must be joking. It’s too easy. I need something more, you know.

Try it, he said.

And I did — for barely a minute and then I collapsed. It was too hard. Wow. It looks so easy on TV. Look at Giselle, all smiles.

Plank quickly became my favorite exercise. You don’t even need a yoga mat. Just hit the floor and hold it. There is no equipment. Great. No need for any movement. Even better. It’s quickly over. Perfect.

It ticks all the boxes for the best working from home minimum exercise.

Benefits of plank

Immediately you sense the strengthening of the spine, abdominal muscles, and strong posture. If you keep up with exercising, you will boost your metabolism, your bones will become stronger, your body tighter and leaner. Those are all powerful motivators to get you moving, pardon, standing still.

FIVE TIBETAN RITES

This minimum exercise originated in India and Tibet 2500 years ago. It is a system of yoga exercises. You start by doing just 3 repetitions of each exercise. Every week you slowly add 2 more repetitions until you reach 21.

Five Tibetan Rites are perfect working from home exercise because it barely takes 5 minutes.

I first learned about the Tibetan rites when I asked my family doctor what kind of exercise she does. And she said that every morning she starts her day with the five rites, without fail. I took her recommendation seriously and looked into them online.  Soon, I was addicted.

I haven’t done the rites lately, but I keep coming back to this minimum exercise every now and then. I am a firm believer in the multiple benefits of Yoga in general.

Benefits of Five Tibetan Rites

Through daily practice, people claim they experience many powerful benefits such as increased energy, strength and flexibility (especially spinal), decreased stress levels (leveling out hormones), and a sense of overall calmness.

If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, The Five Rites will lift energize and revitalize you.

Some people call the Five Tibetan Rites the Fountain of youth because they affect your chakras.

Madinamerica reports a scientific study found that Yoga beneficially affects our psychological health, keeping depression and serious diseases at bay.

PRINCE CHARLES EXERCISE ROUTINE

Working from home? Try bare minimum exercises even royals do. It’s called 5BX (5 basic exercises). The plan is from 1961 and was originally designed for Canadian pilots. It’s kind of old-fashioned, and repetitive, but it’s effective. This minimum exercise routine consists only of stretching, sit-ups, back and leg raises push-ups, and a bit of cardio (running in place). Easy-peasy.

Prince Charles, who is 71, has been following this minimum exercise routine for ages.

His father, Duke Philip, and his two sons, princes William and Harry also follow this routine. Some reports say that Kate Middleton is also a fan.

“He is probably the fittest man of his age I know.

 He’ll walk and walk and walk.

He’s like a mountain goat, he leaves everybody miles behind.”

His wife Camilla

Well, say no more. You had me at royal.

It only lasts how long? 12 minutes? What are we waiting for?

There’s a book with an exercise plan on Amazon? Say no more.

DAILY CONSTITUTIONAL

Daily constitutional means literally daily activity for your constitution.

I was so happy when I read about the health benefits of daily constitutional that I had to tell everybody I know. Medical research proved what I suspected long ago. Walking is a great prevention for heart diseases and high blood pressure.

Did you know that back in the old days people used to take an afternoon walk? The main goal was to aid digestion, but also improved overall physical disposition.

It really makes sense and I am sad that this habit didn’t survive the test of time.

A nice daily walk outside became a must for me. When you are working from home, it is easy to get married to your home office chair. Without even realizing it, it can be hours before you moved a muscle.

A change of scenery is a big thing for me so I try to do it every day for at least 20 minutes. I take my dog out, walk around the block or in the park, and come back like a brand new person.

A short walk makes me move, breathe fresh air, look at nature (Japanese forest bathing), and meet other (real) people. Sometimes I walk with energy, almost running, which is a great exercise for the whole body. Other times I drag my feet out the door just to get out of the apartment and away from work problems.

Working from home is temptingly cozy especially when it’s cold and raining outside. It is surprisingly easy to rely only on virtual friends. People easily turn into hermits, which then brings many physical and mental health problems. There is a phenomenon called Cabin Fever when people in isolation become stir-crazy.

So, if you are starting to feel depressed, without concentration, and with cramped neck muscles and eye fatigue, get out and smell the roses.

daily constitutional walk
Photo by Claire Chang on Unsplash

MINIMALISTS’ MINIMUM EXERCISE ROUTINE

I am a long-time fan of the Minimalists — Joshua and Ryan. Growing up in a family of hoarders, I found it liberating to let go of stuff. Slowly the minimalist philosophy translated to all aspects of my life. It only made sense that I implemented the minimum exercise routine — the bare minimum that I would be able to do daily, without exceptions. In Joshua’s case, the routine involves only three exercises: push-ups, pull-ups, and squats. Like him, I was embarrassingly weak at first. But I am slowly building my strength and stamina. There is no hurry. My only concern is persistence.

I recommend you get honest with yourself and put on paper a set of exercises you are willing and able to do daily. No excuses. No judgment. If you want to skip rope, do that. Just commit.

SITTING DOWN AND UP

I was initially inspired to look up the benefits of sitting down on the floor after I watched an episode of the Tiny House movement. It was about a young couple who just moved into their new tiny house and still had no furniture. So, at first, they started sitting on the floor out of necessity but realized they liked it and continued with that lifestyle.

At first, getting up and sitting down was extremely hard. But, they liked the effects of their new minimum exercise routine. It made them far more flexible. They even compared the habit of kids playing on the floor.

Sitting on the floor is common in Japan. The Japanese serve food and drink tea on the Tatami floor. I honestly believe that this a contributing factor to their longevity.

I recommend trying sitting down and getting up as an exercise, not a way of life. Don’t get rid of the old couch yet.

BLOGILATES

I stumbled upon Blogilates workout videos on YouTube and quickly became a fan.

There are a lot of short videos for beginners (translated: easy), apartment-friendly, for every part of the body so you can easily switch them up, and for every mood (energizing HIIT or peaceful stretching). Cassey often does 7-day challenges in which you can participate and offers inspirational calendars to her Instagram followers.

She has an exceptionally bright personality, so she’ll get you to smile in no time. It’s no wonder she has 5.39 million followers. Cassey’s POP Pilates workout video has become a live fitness class with over 3,000 POP Pilates classes being taught monthly all over the world.

All you need is an Internet connection. Really.

plank is a great minimum exercise
Photo by Minna Hamalainen on Unsplash

Extra Exercise Tips

  • Move more. Wherever and whenever you can move. That’s what I mean by extra exercise. Walk up the stairs, ride a bike, go hiking. It all adds up and helps you stay healthy.
  • Get off the bus, skip the elevator. When I was in high school I started getting off the bus one stop before mine. Then I walked the rest of the way home. I was walking as fast as I could to get into skinny jeans. Also, this time alone helped me clear my head, process the day, and make plans for the next day. This is a habit I’ll always keep. If you skip the elevator, you’re making a small change in your daily life that won’t cost you a thing (just a minute or two), but will motivate you to keep exercising when you see how out of shape you are.
  • Find a hobby you enjoy. I don’t mean chess. Try badminton, ice-skating, golf, riding a bike, hiking, etc. You won’t even notice you’re exercising if you’re having fun.
  • Find a partner. It helps if you have company, so it’s more like a social activity than just plain exercising in the gym. Basement gang from Instagram are at first funny to watch but are actually a challenge to everyone with an empty basement to take goofing off with your friends to another level.
  • Get a dog. Dogs must be walked at least twice a day. You can get exercise just by walking with your best friend and enjoying the sunshine. A high step count is waiting for you if you choose a longer route around the block. Why stop at the first spot of grass. Check out the greener grass on the other side.
  • Change your exercise routine regularly and on purpose. People easily get bored. That’s why most of them quit. You can do one routine one week, and then something else another. Or, do something different every single day. Just regularly mix it up before you get bored.
  • Follow the seasons. Just like it is recommended to plan your meals around what ingredients are in season, you can adjust your exercise routine to fit the weather. Take advantage of hot weather by going swimming and look forward to skiing in winter. Don’t quit when you can’t go to the beach in autumn. Now you can take the bike out for a ride.
  • Do a year of fitness. 2020 was a year when a lot of people turned their lives around. I feel truly inspired by the success of “Fit Amy” by an artist formerly known as Rebel Wilson and unrecognizable Adele.
  • Do it like Arnold. If you need something more challenging, Arnold Schwarzenegger shared a few of his old minimum exercises to do during the lockdown. They are ideal for working from home. Manofmany shares his instructions that even come with Arnold’s old photos. Arnold’s success story is incredibly inspiring and motivating. Did you know that when he was younger he would break into the gym to work out? It was closed on weekends, but that didn’t stop him. I wish I was that motivated.
find a partner for minimum exercise
Photo by Charles Cheng on Unsplash

Conclusion

Working from home gives you more time to focus on your well-being than ever before. Spending a lot of time by yourself, in lockdown, you are given a golden opportunity to re-evaluate your exercise habits and fitness goals.

The benefits of exercising heavily outweigh the downsides. I am mostly interested in mental health and longevity, but everybody’s goal is different and can change over time. You don’t really need any equipment or workout clothes. With so many resources available online, you really have no excuse for not exercising.

You can do your own version of the minimum exercise, compiled out of your best hits. My current go-to list includes star jumps, side plank, lunges, and wall sit. Try it.

I recommend starting with bare minimum exercises that will keep your body moving and heal your mind as well. Taking a short walk in nature is an excellent example of a minimum exercise. Think small steps and set reachable goals.

Here’s to 2021 and our future successes. I can’t wait. Cheers!

Related posts: Eating Healthy While Working From Home [8 bullet-proof tips], How to Survive Working From Home [Learn From a Pro]

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