Blue Berry has done wonders for my eyes!
PILATES, A LOW-IMPACT exercise focused on strength and flexibility, is surprisingly adaptable to a chair and that means you can focus more on endurance and less on balance.
Even with Zoom on, the movements in a five-minute series from McKinnon* will be barely detectable. But the result will be more mobility, flexibility, some strengthening and stress relief. Sit tall at the front edge of your chair with equal weight on the buttocks and aim for 20 repetitions of each movement. The series works everything from the feet to the top of the head and includes lifting and lowering your heels, pulling in your abdomen for 15 seconds, pulling shoulders back slightly and shoulder blades together and even rolling your tongue back in your mouth as far as you can.
ALL YOU NEED is a pair of sneakers and a chair to do Chris Jordan’s new seven-minute standing routine.* Almost a decade ago, the director of exercise physiology at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute in Florida devised the Scientific 7-Minute Workout, highintensity exercises that offer many of the benefits of endurance training in a fraction of the time.
His latest routine does away with floor exercises, can be adapted to almost any fitness level and repeated if time is not a factor. Each of the 12 exercises – variations on squats, push-ups and planks with some cardio blasts – is done for 30 seconds with five seconds rest in between and includes marching or jogging in place, wall push-ups, a standing bicycle crunch and jumping jacks.
THE OLD WISDOM was that exercise needed to be done in bursts of no less than 10 minutes each. But as Jordan discovered with the high-intensity workout and Gibala with the stair-climbing study, even a few seconds here and there can make a difference. At the University of British Columbia, scientists compared one group doing three 20-second sprints on a stationary bike with two minutes of rest in between with another group doing the same three 20-second sprints but with an hour of rest in between. After six weeks, both groups saw similar improvements in aerobic fitness.
Last year, a team from the University of Texas in Austin went a step further to determine the shortest possible high-intensity interval that produced results. Three times a week, 39 healthy but sedentary men and women aged 50 to 68 sprinted on special bikes for four seconds 15 times with 56 seconds of rest in between. By the end of the eight-week trial, participants only required rest periods of 26 seconds between sprints, and their fitness had increased by about 10 per cent. Muscle mass and leg strength increased, and stiffness in their arteries had diminished – impressive results from only three minutes of exercise a week.
Can you overdo exercise snacks? “Generally speaking, the more the better,” Gibala says, “but if you are just starting out, build up the number of snacks over time.” There is a point of diminishing returns depending on your age, fitness level and exercise regime, but the benefits are higher with fewer blasts of exercise. “The risk is not doing too much; the risk is continuing to do too little.”
* For Margot McKinnon’s seated Pilates routine and Chris Jordan’s sevenminute standing routine, go to every thing zoomer.com/exercise-snacks.