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Five-Minute Fitness - Quick Ideas for Keeping Fit When Working at Home
by Lindsay Small
One of the most difficult things about working at home is scheduling a proper fitness routine. If you are a Work At Home Mother and are having to contend with kids, housework and running a business too, you will have to make a special effort to schedule some exercise into your day. I find the best way of doing so is to squeeze in as many five minute bursts of activity as I can, either with the kids or without, and to try to make them fun too.

If the kids are at home:
Put the baby in the pushchair and the kids on bikes or scooters and take a brisk walk around the block. Getting outside into the open air will improve everybody's state of mind and mood. Walk fast to exercise your cardiovascular system (and keep up with the kids!) and you will return home feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Have a five minute tidy up! Set the kitchen timer, put some music on, and get everybody running around the house to pick up toys, books, clothes and shoes and return them to their proper places. Make it fun and the kids will enjoy it and willingly join in. Make it fast and you might even improve your fitness too!

What is the weather like? Can you take the kids out into the yard (garden) for a five minute run-around? Run races, do some star jumps, and just mess around. If you can't get outside, clear a space and do a five minute exercise routine with the kids indoors. Make it a daily event, and vary the routine to include walking and running on the spot, skipping, star jumps, stretches and bends, making faces, shaking out your fingers and toes - whatever you and the kids will enjoy!

During school term time:
Walk the kids to and from school. This is a great way to spend some quality time with your kids, is much less stressful than driving, and helps them arrive at school in the best mood for their day too. Can you jog or run home afterwards? If you live too far away from school to walk, perhaps you could park a little way away and walk the last bit (which will help you avoid school congestion too).

If the kids are at school and you are rushing to get something done before the school day ends, you can spend far too much time in your office and quickly get stale! Sometimes you just have to force yourself to take that break, even if end-of-school is looming. Try walking out of the front door with watch in hand and time yourself for 2.5 minutes. Stop, turn around, and go back home again. You will feel much better for it and be refreshed when you sit back down at your desk.

If you have time on your own:
Break your day up - and make sure that you plan your breaks in advance. I keep it simple by scheduling a five minute break every hour. If I am very engrossed in a project I sometimes set a beeper to remind me! I have a list of five minute activities to do and during a full work at home day I will probably achieve 6 or 7 of them.

Do you have stairs? Climb them! Time yourself and keep going for five minutes, no less. If you don't have stairs, buy a mini-step machine. They don't cost much, are easy to store in a corner, and they work!

No time to get out and about? Stretch! I have a card on the wall behind my monitor with the word "STRETCH!" printed on it in huge letters. When I get involved in a project I sometimes hardly look up from my keyboard and monitor for hours - but when I do, and notice the card, I remember to stand up, stretch everything out and take a 5-minute breather. Try standing about two feet away from your desk, bending at the waist and placing your hands on the edge of the desk to help support your body. Hold for thirty seconds and then stand up straight and take several deep breaths. Repeat twice more. Stretching out your back like this help release tension in the spine and shoulders. Shake out your arms and fingers, then your feet; stretch up tall and then touch your toes and do whatever else it takes to ease out those kinks!

Keep some tennis balls in a desk drawer and squeeze one in each hand as hard as you can for 10 second bursts. This is a great exercise to do when you have been typing for too long. Take those same tennis balls and roll them around under your feet (taking your shoes off first!) This is almost ridiculously pleasurable! (Tip: keep the tennis balls hidden away and out of reach to prevent them mysteriously disappearing from your office and reappearing in the car, garden or toy cupboard).

Try a five minute resistance band workout. Resistance bands are cheap, easy to store, and effective - and can be used to exercise many different areas of the body. Follow the instructions that come with the resistance band for a quick exercise routine - or try a search on Google for ideas. You can achieve quite a lot in five minutes with these.

Dumbbells are another good investment for a quick exercise routine. Get a range of weights and a storage rack, but make sure that they are stored safely away from children, who should NEVER play with them. Learn a quick dumbbell routine for the arms, back and shoulders. Personally I love bicep curls - they make me feel powerful! Find your favorite exercise and schedule it into your day.

Finally - and I hesitate to mention this one - a five minute stint of housework can break your work routine and, if you do it energetically enough - can be part of your fitness regime! I try to make these little spurts of housework into a time challenge and I schedule them into my day. For example, on Thursdays at 11.00am I might strip the beds. First, I open up ITunes and put one of my favorite tracks on. Then I run round like a mad thing trying to strip down 3 sets of beds, get the first lot of sheets into the washer and sit back down at the computer before the track ends. It may sound silly, but it makes housework a little more fun and less of a chore. A five minute sweep, vacuum or mop, if done energetically, can count towards your daily exercise and make you feel virtuous and house-proud too!

About the Author:
Lindsay Small is a Work At Home Mother who runs a collection of family-friendly websites including W-A-H-M.com - where Work At Home Moms can find information, ideas, inspiration, advice about work at home opportunities, interviews with successful WAHMs and hopefully a laugh or two. Visit http://www.W-A-H-M.com

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