Get fit in 30 seconds with eight speedy exercises to maintain muscle and mobility

These speedy add-ons to your daily routine will help maintain muscle and mobility 

The idea of starting a new workout regime can be daunting – you need to find extra hours, a plan and motivation.

These eight speedy add-ons to your daily routine will help maintain muscle and mobility

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These eight speedy add-ons to your daily routine will help maintain muscle and mobilityCredit: Getty

That’s why “exercise snacking” made headlines as a solution for time-pressed people.

It separates exercise into short bursts – a 10-minute session every three hours would total one hour a day, helping you reap the benefits of exercise, without the big commitment. 

This year, it’s all about “strength snacking” – focusing on moves that will reduce or prevent the aches and weaknesses of ageing.

“Strength and mobility exercises are a vital part of a well-rounded regime, playing an important role in muscle maintenance, joint flexibility and range of motion,” says Rowan Clift, training specialist at Freeletics.

“You can perform simple strength exercises during your day, combining them with other daily tasks.” Here’s how…

Ease a tight back

Before you even check your phone in the morning, roll out of bed and get on to all-fours for a cat-cow stretch.

As you inhale, move into the “cow” pose by arching your back, allowing your belly to sink, lifting your head and pressing your chest forward.

As you exhale, slowly move into the “cat” pose by reversing the movement – round the spine and imagine tucking your hips up toward your belly button, dropping the head. It only takes 30 seconds to do a few.

“This movement helps alleviate stiffness and tightness in the back and enhances flexibility,” says Rowan.

“It can also help to relax the muscles of the back and release tension, which could be a result of a strain, poor posture or even stress.”

Boost your balance

Worryingly, around one in five adults aged 51-75 can’t stand on one leg for 10 seconds which, according to research in the British Journal Of Sports Medicine, doubles the risk of dying within 10 years.

To work on your balance, next time you get up to make a cup of tea, try the heel-to-toe walk.

“Standing upright, place your right heel in front of your left toe. Then do the same with your left heel and right toe, continuing to switch sides until you have reached your destination.

Make sure you look ahead, not downwards, as you do this,” explains physiotherapist Sammy Margo.

Hold your arms out to the sides for better balance, but as you keep practising, try to keep your arms down by your sides.

Power up your pins

When you’re brushing your teeth, drop into a series of squats. 'Perform 20-30 in quick succession'

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When you’re brushing your teeth, drop into a series of squats. ‘Perform 20-30 in quick succession’Credit: Shutterstock

Your legs are home to some of your body’s biggest muscles including quads, hamstrings and glutes.

Keeping them strong can help make general movement, such as bending to pick something up or walking, that little bit easier.

When you’re brushing your teeth, drop into a series of squats. “Perform 20-30 in quick succession,” says Sammy.

“For the best biometric form, keep your back as straight as you can, point toes outwards and make sure your knees are not in front of your toes.”

You can put your free hand on the bathroom sink for extra balance.

Stabilise your knees

Inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, muscle imbalances and trauma can all contribute to unstable and painful knees, which can make exercise challenging.

To strengthen the stabilising muscles around your knees (and improve balance at the same time), stand on one leg while waiting in a queue for the bus or at the supermarket checkout.

Keep your knees slightly bent as you lift one foot off the floor. Hold this for 20 seconds or longer, before switching sides.

No one will even notice you’re exercising!

Flex those hips 

This exercise can help with walking and prevent weakness, tightness or strain, which can lead to injury - try this before you go to bed

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This exercise can help with walking and prevent weakness, tightness or strain, which can lead to injury – try this before you go to bedCredit: Shutterstock

Strong hip flexors (the muscles at the front of the hips) allow you to bring knees up to your body with ease.

They help with walking, too. Weakness, tightness or strain can make movement difficult and lead to injury elsewhere, including your back.

To counteract this, try the bridge exercise before going to bed. “Lie on your back with your arms at your sides, knees bent, and feet on the floor, hip-distance apart,” says Sammy.

“Raise your hips and bum upwards, towards the ceiling. You should feel the stretch in your glutes and hamstrings, not your back. Hold for a few seconds, before lowering down, then repeat.”

You could also try this: sit on the floor with legs in front of you and a football to one side of the left foot.

Lift your leg over the ball and back again, without touching the floor. Repeat 10 times then switch to the right side.

Wake up the shoulders 

If your shoulders feel stiff, try lateral raises, which work the muscle that runs from the top of the shoulder to the side of the arm.

“Lateral raises strengthen the shoulder muscles and target the lateral (or side) head of the deltoid muscles, which are responsible for lifting the arm away from the body,” says Rowan.

“Strengthening these muscles can help provide better support and stability to the shoulder joint, which can be particularly helpful if you have tight shoulders due to muscle imbalances.”

During TV ad breaks, grab a couple of food tins (or light dumbbells, if you have them).

Keeping your arms straight, lift your arms up to shoulder level out to the side, pause, then lower back down. Repeat this 15 times.

Prevent lower back pain

Got a full day at your desk but don’t want to end up with an aching back by the end of it?

“Before you sit down, put your forearms on your desk, hands touching,” says Sammy. Walk your feet back behind you until your body is in a straight line.

“Contract your ab muscles and maintain a straight line from head to toe, without lifting or sinking your hips.”

Hold for 10-15 seconds and aim to repeat two or three times. You could also set a 30-minute timer to ensure you stick to a desk stretching break.

“Clasp your hands together above your head with your palms facing up toward the ceiling.

“Push your arms up, stretching upwards and hold for 15 seconds while taking deep breaths. Repeat at least twice.”

Target your core 

It’s called the “core” for a reason – keeping it strong maintains balance and posture, helping prevent back and hip pain, falls and other injuries.

While waiting for pasta to boil, plank for 10-30 seconds, depending on your ability.

Rest and repeat three times. “The plank is the best exercise to target the core muscles and it also helps work the legs,” says Sammy. “Start on all-fours, hands below shoulders, knees below hips. Straighten your legs behind you, feet hip-width apart.”

Your core muscles are always working to keep you upright, such as when carrying heavy shopping.

Read more on the Scottish Sun

Aim to hold equal weight in both hands and stand up straight, engaging your core as you walk.

This is also beneficial for your back muscles, forearms and shoulders, so challenge yourself to leave the car at home! 

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