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Easy with the exercise

Getting to the gym can seem like a hopelessly unattainable goal when your schedule is already bulging at the seams. Half an hour to get there, changing, a 20-minute work-out, showering, changing, half an hour back… it’s a Herculean effort time-wise, before even contemplating the physical demands.

My favourite exercise option for clients new to the concept or returning to it after a break is the 10-minute walkevery day. Just 10 minutes, but done faithfully every day. Gentle to start with, but becoming brisker as they limber up over the days. Fresh air, no need for expensive gear, and no training required. Given our quirky climate, though, it isn’t always possible or desirable to get out into air that may be more freezing than fresh. Here, then, are some of the many simple ways of raising the pulse and moulding the muscles, without needing more than a few minutes and enough room to swing your arms.

  • Get a skipping rope– it costs about a pound if you can’t borrow one from your children, and you can do two minutes whilst the kettle boils without any more preparation than taking off high heels and any flapping jewellery. If you get good enough to do more than two minutes then take your hat off to yourself – it’s not as easy as children make it look!
  • A hula-hoop is another inexpensive option that may already lurk in your children’s bedrooms. Less demanding than skipping but just as easy to fit into the odd moment and good for toning the abdomen.
  • Ankle-ball is another seemingly childish device that requires nothing more than flat footwear (or bare feet) and a few feet of spare space. Keeping the ball moving whilst jumping over the rope is great for co-ordination and not quite as energetic as full-on skipping. Again, though, it can easily take up a few scraps of spare time and make you pleasantly breathless.
  • If you have the resources, then anything from £20 - £100 will get you a mini-stepper, or a mini rebounder, both of which take up only a smallish amount of space. A mini-stepper can be used whilst reading, listening to the radio or music, chatting on the phone, or watching television. Using a rebounder is slightly less conducive to reading or watching a screen, but works well with music or the radio. Bare feet and some loose clothing are all you need for either. About fifteen to twenty minutes (work up to this amount gently) will make you feel thoroughly exercised and virtuous without leaving the house.
  • For all practical purposes, the bottom step of your stairs are as good as a step box. Step up onto it and step back down. Repeat until you’re bored, dinner’s ready, or the children elbow you out of the way to try it themselves.
  • Star jump: it works for cadets. Remove heels and any restrictive clothing and see how many you can do.
  • Clear a space as long and wide as you are. Lie down; get up; lie down; get up; repeat… It’s more demanding than it sounds, but very easy to do for a few minutes without much preparation.

Two minutes here, five minutes there – you’ll be surprised at how quickly you start to improve your stamina, and your smugness rating will rocket as you reflect on the fact that you’ve exercised every day. Remember not to overdo it and if you have any unusual aches and pains speak to a health care practitioner.