My fitness routine completely changed the moment I became a new mother. I was used to doing yoga, barre, or going for a run almost six times a week, and my workouts were usually at least 30 minutes long, complete with warm up and cool down. Now that my daughter is a year-and-a-half, the only consistent extended activity I do is walking (thank goodness for strollers!).
I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss my solo time on the mat or the pavement, but it dawned on me that I’ve actually been getting in tons of physical activity in addition to walking. It just takes the form of short bursts at various points in the day. For example, when my toddler is playing independently, I’ll often do some stretching, push-ups, or a few minutes of standing barre exercises—and then there are our dance parties (“Baby Shark,” anyone?), during which we dance, hop, and run around the living room. Our dance parties usually don’t last for more than 15 minutes, but they’re a great workout, especially if I incorporate some leg raises and pliés…
That got me thinking. Maybe my workouts are everything they need to be. Sure, I’d love to structure my active time differently and perhaps more equally distribute my strength training for a super balanced approach (I know my biceps and quads do double duty these days!), but on the whole, I’m able to stay fit and strong. And best of all, I feel good in my body.
As it turns out, there is actually a term for the form my fitness has taken: micro workouts. Specifically, micro workouts are defined as workouts that generally last no more than ten minutes while incorporating higher intensity moves (anything that trains multiples muscles while boosting your circulation and getting your heart rate up.)
You don’t have to be on toddler duty to benefit from micro workouts, of course. You can even do them at work, between calls and meetings. The best part is that it all counts—if you do seven minutes here and five minutes there, it adds up! Research has even demonstrated that they can be incredibly effective. Also, nothing banishes mental fog like a quick burst of activity.
A Few Tips on Micro Workouts
Make sure you stay safe. Temper the intensity of your micro workout to suit your current fitness level. Some of the articles on micro workouts that I came across discussed burpees and sprints, but those exercises aren’t suitable for everyone, and it is possible to get injured if you switch from sedentary to full-throttle in a matter of seconds. I prefer low-impact aerobic exercises that focus on toning, balance, and flexibility (almost anything Pilates- or Barre-inspired).
Find a routine. I don’t have one; I just workout during the pockets of time I stumble into. But if you’re able to establish a routine with your micro workouts, that’s awesome, and it can really help you stay consistent. Consider fitting in your micro workouts around the same time of day—maybe before you hop in the shower or during the 3 PM slump.
Connect your mind to your movement. Micro workouts offer a lovely opportunity to touch base with your body throughout the day. Being mindful during your movements by being present for every sensation and breath is a powerful way to feel connected to yourself
Take advantage of electronics. Mobile devices are your friend if you need a few ideas for your micro workout. From Instagram to Youtube to fitness subscription sites, you can easily find a variety of workout styles and moves that can be adapted to a short period of time.
Plus, here are a few Peaceful Dumpling workouts to inspire you!
Finally, celebrate your workouts! I used to get down that I couldn’t spend hours doing the physical activities that I love. After all, those things were (are?) a part of my identity that irrecoverably shifted with motherhood, but once I realized that my current level of activity still shapes me, inside and out, I felt joyful and thankful for every micro workout.
Have you tried micro workouts? What are your favorite moves?
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