Personal trainer reveals the easy 45 second exercises ‘as good as a 30-minute walk’

A sofa dip is one simple exercise you can perform at home (Image: Getty Images)

We are all fully aware of the importance of exercise for our health and wellbeing. Not only can it help keep our weight down but it helps lower the risk of dangerous conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia.

For this reason, the NHS recommends we partake in at least 150 minutes of exercise a week.

While it is best to follow this advice and exercise as much as we can, this is not always possible due to other commitments as well as any illnesses or injuries we are living with.

But one expert has revealed you don’t necessarily need to exercise in large chunks of time to reap the benefits.

Personal trainer Lavina Mehta recommended you try something she calls “exercise snacking”.

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Woman holding her neck sitting on bed in the morning

She advised performing a stretch first thing in the morning (Image: Getty)

This may sound strange but the concept is pretty simple – it involves short bursts of exercise throughout the day. Writing for the Telegraph, the fitness guru said: “When it comes to our health, every second of movement counts.”

She referenced a recent study from a team in China, which found that breaking up eight hours of sitting with 10 squats every 45 minutes led to a bigger drop in our blood sugar than going for a 30 minute walk.

“The thinking is that more regular movement is better at mopping up excess sugar in our blood following a meal,” Lavina said.

“It minimises the rollercoaster of blood sugar spikes, which can increase our type 2 diabetes risk and affect mood, energy levels and productivity.”

The more frequently you are able to “exercise snack” throughout the day can have more of an impact on your blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, weight management and mood, she argued.

Lavina said: “As well as squatting, any other short burst of exercise will trigger a similar result. Tie them onto existing habits to encourage movement throughout your day, without having to carve out big chunks of time.”

She therefore recommended getting up every 30 minutes and moving for three minutes if possible, but “any movement”, even 45 seconds at a time is beneficial, she said.

With this in mind, she shared 10 simple exercises you can do throughout the day.

People walking up the stairs in a hallway.

Laving recommended always taking the stairs when you can (Image: Getty)

Do a fitness salutation as soon as you wake up

Lavina described this as “the world’s best stretch”.

“It is great for flexibility and strengthening and could be performed first thing in the morning, or during the day to break up prolonged periods of sitting,” she said.

Doing it once should take around 45 seconds, but you could repeat the process three times:

  • From a standing position, open your arms and reach them up as you take a big inhale. Then, bend from your hips into a forward fold, placing your hands in front of your feet (bending your knees if you need to)
  • Walk your hands out into a high plank position, then step your right foot to the side of your right hand. Sink your hips so they are parallel to the ground and breathe into any tightness
  • Press your left hand into the ground and bring your right hand overhead. Twist your body to the right side and bring your gaze to the lifted fingertips. Reverse the movement and repeat on the other side (engaging your core throughout)
  • From your plank, walk the hands back up towards your feet (with legs bent or straight) and roll up the spine to a standing position.

Balance on one leg while you’re brushing your teeth

Balance can help build our core and bone strength, and help with coordination and keep our brains fit.

According to Lavina, studies suggest that people who can balance on one leg for 10 seconds are more likely to live longer.

“Combine this exercise with brushing your teeth, so it becomes part of your routine,” she said.

You can keep your hands or fingers resting on a fixed work surface, wall or sink if you’re feeling unsteady.

Always walk up the escalator or take the stairs

“Walking up three flights of stairs three times a day has been shown to improve your cardiovascular health, aerobic fitness and the strength of your legs,” Lavina said.

She recommended:

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift and walk when on an escalator. Start off small and build up your strength and speed
  • To progress, take stairs two at a time, increase your pace and add more flights of stairs
  • Carry your laundry basket, a rucksack or some shopping bags for extra weight and combine it with other exercises, such as doing a squat on every step.

Young woman practicing yoga at home keeping balance standing on one leg

One of her exercises included balancing on one leg while brushing your teeth (Image: Getty)

Practise my desk reset

Too much of our time hunched over our desk or slumped on the sofa can leave us vulnerable to posture problems.

Lavina’s desk reset movement reverses the rounding of the spine, improves posture and boosts confidence because it makes you sit a bit taller.

To try the desk reset:

  • Bring your shoulders up to your ears. Then move them backwards and down (as if you’ve drawn a desk shape with your shoulders)
  • Your shoulder blades should be set further down the spine, your chest should feel more open and your back should be nice and straight, with your neck in a relaxed neutral position to your spine
  • Do this move regularly while sitting at a desk or on the sofa
  • You can combine this with standing up from your seat and sitting down again to activate your leg muscles.

Do bicep curls while you’re making calls

You can perform this exercise with dumbbells if you have them, or you could even use water bottles or tin cans.

Lavina said: “Squeeze this in while you’re on a call or virtual work meeting (seated with the camera off).

“This strengthens our upper body and the calves and is a great alternative to going for a walk, if you’re stuck at your desk.”

Do 15 repetitions for a 45-second workout, or more if you’re using light weights, she advised.

Sofa dips while you watch TV

This exercise can help build your upper body strength as well as help with back and neck pain.

To perform a sofa dip:

  • Sit on the edge of the sofa and shuffle your body off, using your arm strength to help you to lower your body and bring yourself back up, while keeping the elbows facing back behind you and your fingers facing your body
  • You can try this with straight legs and bend them if the move is too tricky, which will take some weight off your arms
  • Do 10 repetitions during ad breaks while you’re watching television.

Leg extensions while you’re having dinner

This is a “hidden” move that no one will even know you’re doing under the dinner table.

To carry it out:

  • Alternate lifting one leg off the ground and holding it straight to activate your thigh and quad muscles
    To make this move more challenging, hold your leg straight for longer periods.

Do a few press-ups when waiting for the kettle to boil

Lavina said: “Everytime I boil the kettle for a cup of tea or coffee, I do press ups against the counter surface.

“It’s a great example of a daily activity where you’re usually idle but can easily piggyback with exercise – you don’t even need to carve out any time.”

The steps for this exercise are:

  • Place your hands on the kitchen counter and lean forward. Keep your back straight and your core tight. Bring your chest between your hands, bend your arms at 90 degrees
  • Do 10 push-ups for a quick 45 second workout.

Boxing with tin cans when you’ve got a spare moment

“March or jog while punching your arms out and holding tins or light dumbbells,” she said.

“Vary punches forwards, upwards and sideways. 45 seconds of this exercise should get you out of breath.”

Destress when getting ready for bed

To end your day Lavina recommended lying on the bed with your legs up against the wall or headboard.

She added: “This pose drains all of the tension from your legs and improves blood flow while you relax on your bed or the floor with your legs against a wall.

“Additionally, studies have shown that this move encourages a better night’s sleep.”

Hold the pose for 45 seconds, or for up to three minutes if you have time.

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