How to workout at home when you don't have much free time

How to workout at home during lockdown when you don't have much free time
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Thanks to the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, the one thing most of us have in common is that we're being told to stay home to help save lives, but beyond that, one person's lockdown scenario could look very different to another's. For example, some of us may be working from home and home-schooling our kids, so the amount of time available for exercise could be scant. In contrast, for some of us, the time we'd usually spend commuting could be funneled into improving our fitness instead.

If you're time-poor right now yet you want to exercise to protect your mental health and general wellbeing, there are some at home workouts to try. Boosting your immune system through exercise and a healthy diet is especially important now, and the healthier you are, the more energy you'll have to be there for others who may need your help.

Staying fit doesn't always mean investing in the best home gym equipment either, as there are plenty of ways to exercise without spending a dime. Want an example? In response to the coronavirus pandemic, there are now lots of free at-home fitness classes with leading personal trainers available online. Read on now to discover the at-home workouts to help you exercise enjoyable and effectively when you're lacking 'me time'.

How to workout at home: create a realistic exercise routine

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Create a realistic exercise routine

What level of fitness do you have right now? Knowing your current capabilities will guide you when creating a schedule not only for how often to work out each week, but for how long (per session) and what you should focus on for your individual fitness goals. If you're new to exercise and aren't sure where to start when working out at home, the Mayo Clinic has a good '5 steps to get started' with fitness program to draw inspiration from. 

If you don't want to create your own, or you're experienced with fitness and want to take advantage of a more expert approach, check out the best online fitness services. They'll tell you which exercises to do for the results you want to achieve, and you can select workouts by length of time it takes to complete them.

When it comes to maintaining an exercise regime, it pays to plan in advance. If you have a part of your day allocated to exercise, you're more likely to do it. Not only does this give your days more structure, it enables you to be mentally prepared for your workouts, which is half the battle in staying fit. 

To save even more time, lay out your fitness clothes the night before. Or if you know you'll be exercising during your lunch break and you're working from home, consider wearing your active gear in the morning so that you're ready to go come lunchtime.

How to workout at home: a man performs mountain climbers in a High Intensity Interval Training workout

(Image credit: Photo by Li Sun from Pexels)

Switch to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Longer workouts are super-enjoyable, especially a lengthy yoga workout, but when time is tight, one of the most effective cardio-boosting, fat-burning, endorphin-pumping workouts you can do is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Even a 10-15 minute session three times a week helps boost your health. Celebrity trainer Joe Wicks is a good resource here and has been helping families stay active at home during lockdown with his P.E. With Joe series on YouTube.

If you have kids who enjoy exercise, this is a great way to stay fit together, which could help if you're a single parent and therefore don't have someone to share childcare duties with. Or if your partner is a key worker and away from home during the day or evening, making timetabling exercise for each other a little trickier.

How to workout at home during lockdown: a woman uses a medicine ball to exercise

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Do micro workouts throughout your day

Walking up and down the stairs each day counts as cardio exercise, as does cleaning your house and washing the car, so don't forget that everyday activities add up when it comes to keeping your body moving. A good way to workout at home if you're time poor is to pepper your day with micro or nano workouts. This could be one to three minutes of aerobic or body strength training every hour or two. 

Health organizations recommend at least 30 minutes of continuous moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per workout, but alternative research, including a 2018 study published in the Journal of The American Heart Association, shows that we can still benefit from breaking that up into smaller segments throughout the day.

For the first few hours of your day, when you're at your strongest, concentrate on strength and cardio-based micro workouts, such as mountain climbers, burpees, jumping jacks and push-ups. Towards the end of your day, when you might be aching and looking to stretch it out, switch to yoga poses.

The best fitness trackers will help you keep tabs on how much exercise you're doing each day, and are an easy way to total up all of your physical activity. Many offer guided breathing sessions too, helping you to unwind after a busy day. 

How to workout at home during lockdown: a woman runs on a treadmill at home

(Image credit: Getty)

Shielding but love running? Hit the treadmill

Getting outdoors to soak up some natural sunlight does wonders for our mental wellbeing, but if you're shielding at home because you're considered an at-risk person, yet you love walking or running, consider buying one of the best treadmills to get your daily fix.

Most treadmills enable you to vary the speed and incline so that you can achieve a more effective workout in a shorter space of time. The more professional treadmills offer screens that display a route, as if you were running outside.

Need an incentive to run or walk? Consider watching episodes of your favorite TV show (or re-runs of an old favorite if you'd rather 100% focus on the new show) when hitting the treadmill. Not all of us want to position a treadmill near our TV, so the best tablets are a good option for watching videos as you walk or run indoors.

How to workout at home: the Total Gym Fit is ideal for getting in a full body workout

(Image credit: Total Gym)

Get a full-body workout in one session

If you've got the space, a multi-gym is a great option for getting in a total body workout at home. You might be surprised to learn that some of these home gyms are compact and don't require bags of space to house them in. The Total Gym FIT is a good example as it folds up when not in use.

It's also a good option if you're new to exercise and aren't used to weight training. That's because it doesn't require weights – it's a pulley-based system and uses your own bodyweight, so you'll have less chance of straining yourself.

Looking for more great health and fitness content? Then don't forget to check out our guide to the best exercise bikes and the best elliptical machines for at home workouts.

Luke Edwards

Luke is a veteran tech journalist with decades of experience covering everything from TVs, power tools, science and health tech to VPNs, space, gaming and cars. You may recognize him from appearances on plenty of news channels or have read his words which have been published in most tech titles over the years. In his spare time (of which he has little as a father of two) Luke likes yoga, surfing, meditation, DIY and consuming all the books, comics and movies he can find.