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If you think you don’t have time to exercise, you’re mistaken. An effective routine that gets your heart rate up can be done in the time it takes to watch a sitcom.

Recent studies have shown that just 20 minutes a day will help you live longer, get stronger and put you in a more positive frame of mind. Furthermore, you can burn up to 300 calories in that time if you put in the effort.

See also: The Ultimate Exercises To Build Strength

So grab a timer and tackle my top five to help you thrive. Apart from an exercise mat, no equipment is required—your own body weight will do everything for you.  The best part? You can do these quick and easy exercises anywhere. 

 Hundreds with full roll-up 

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Joseph Pilates introduced the 100s to his workouts as the first exercise in his sequence. It was known as the “reach-and-pull”, primarily because you’re reaching your arms forward while also pulling the legs back into themselves.

To start, lie on your back, arms by your side, legs together and straight. Turn your feet into the Pilates V, which is heels together and toes slightly parted in the shape of a V. Look towards your toes and ‘plug’ your thighs into your hips.

Engage your core, inhale and raise both arms off the ground while keeping them pointed straight, fingers towards the feet. Simultaneously, raise both legs, the head and the neck from the floor, and start beating your arms up and down to your breath for 100 counts—but don’t touch the ground. All the while, you’re keeping your eyes on your toes and legs and arms straight.

Finish with a full roll-up and reach for your toes to stretch the spine and hamstrings.

Squats and lunges 

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You will be doing this for one minute, so remember to breathe in as you squat and out as you stand. Start with legs slightly wider than hip width, feet firmly facing forward. Keeping your back as straight as possible, squat down as low as you can go, sticking your butt out as though you're about to sit down on a chair. 

Next, move on to single leg forward lunges for one minute (30 seconds on each leg). Ensure your knees do not go further than the toe when you’re in low lunge. Your back should be straight, with hips tucked so you’re not arching.

Sustained planks 

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Start by getting into a press up position. Bend the elbows and rest your weight on your forearms, not on the hands. Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles. Engage your core by pressing your belly button into the spine.

Energetically pull your hands and feet towards each other and really feel your core engage.  Hold. Half way through, feel free to add triceps presses: from plank position, move from resting on elbows to the hands, arms straight. Place hands a little closer than shoulder-width, with fingers slightly turned toward each other. Lower and raise your body, keeping it in a straight line.

Next, move on to side plank. Roll on to your side with feet together and one forearm directly below your shoulder. Contract your core and raise the hips until your body is in a straight line from head to feet. Hold the position for the allotted time for each set. Repeat on the other side. The variations can be 30 seconds each.

Bridging

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Lie on your back, with knees bent and feet hip-width apart.  Ankles should be a hand-length away from the butt. Inhale, and as you exhale, engage your core—ensuring your lower back is not arched—and slowly raise the hips as high as you can without lifting the back of your rib cage off the floor. Hold. Inhale and slowly lower your hips back down, vertebrae by vertebrae. 

Variations when in high bridge can include raising one leg straight up, then placing it back down before raising the other leg up and down.

Noukasana

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Finish with Noukasana, or “boat pose” in yoga. Start in a seated position, legs together and straight. Inhale and engage the core. Raise both legs up, so that your body is in a V. Keep your back straight. Try to maintain an angle of 45 degrees. 

Hold your breath and the posture for 10-15 seconds, then lower your legs for a count of five. Move back into the boat pose for another 10-15 seconds. You can increase the time you're able to hold the posture by practising regularly. 

Naukasana can also be performed in prone position (face down) to increase strength in the back, bum and hanstrings. Extend your arms overhead in alignment with the ears, with legs straight and extended on the mat.  Simultaneously lift your upper and lower body off the mat, so you are only laying on your stomach.  Pull the belly in and try to hold for 30 seconds.  Repeat three times.

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See also: 10 Female PTs In Hong Kong To Push Your Limits

Tags: Lifestyle, Exercise, Health, Fitness, Wellness, Active