Running to catch a bus in a blizzard is the best . . . said no working man ever. For many Canadian guys, nixing commuting has been one of the pros of working at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That said, commuting does have its benefits. Every time you chase down a train, walk to work from a distant parking spot or take the stairs to your workplace, you chip away at the 150 minutes of weekly exercise you need to stay healthy. Plus, with less than half of Canadian adults meeting exercise guidelines before the pandemic, now’s the time to make up some ground.

Not feeling motivated to do a 20-minute workout every day? No problem! Once an hour during your workday, get up and do any of the three-minute exercises listed below. All told, that’ll add up to 24 minutes over an eight-hour day. You can even set a repeating alarm on your phone as a reminder to get up and move. Goodbye mission impossible, hello mission accomplished!

Wall Push-ups

Man doing wall push ups in office

By adding this classic move to your workday, say, after using the john or on your way to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, you’ll build your upper-body muscles. These muscles are essential for good posture, power, and impressing your significant other. Here’s how to do a wall push-up:

Step 1

Stand about two feet back from a spot on the wall. For more of a challenge, you can also use a sturdy table, desk, or counter.

Step 2

Lean forward and place both hands on the wall just past shoulder width, and assume the “plank” position with your arms, legs and back straight, arms slightly bent but not locked, and your toes supporting your lower body.

Step 3

Bend your elbows and begin to lean your body toward the wall until your nose almost touches it. Ensure your back stays straight and your hips don’t sag.

Step 4

Pause, then push back to the starting position. Repeat for three minutes, which is about as long as it takes to brew a cup of coffee.

Calf raises

This super-simple move will get your calves looking chiselled.

Step 1

Stand up straight, then push through the balls of your feet and raise your heels until you are standing on your toes.

Step 2

Lower slowly back to the start and repeat for three minutes, or the length of the song by the Spice Girls. “If you wannabe my lover, you gotta get rock-hard calves….” Sing it!


Lunges target your lower body: calves, glutes, quads, hamstrings, hips, and core. These are the muscles that move you around all day, so a little extra strength and balance will help you move, look, and feel better.

Step 1

Stand up straight with your legs hip-width apart.

Step 2

With one foot, step forward about 2-3 feet or whatever feels comfortable. Make sure you keep your back straight.

Step 3

Bend both your knee, so they form a 90-degree angle. Make sure your front knee isn’t further than the toe of the leg you stepped out with, and your other knee isn’t touching the floor. Hold the position for 3-6 seconds.

Step 4

Push off with the foot you stepped out on and return to a standing position.

Step 5

Repeat with alternating legs for three minutes, which is less than the average length of a cell phone call. Heck, you can even do lunges while making a phone call!

Leg raises

Build your leg and core muscles, and reduce the risk of backaches and stiffness with this super-easy move you can do while sitting. Now that video meetings are regular, it’s even easier to do this exercise without others noticing. Pants optional!

Step 1

Keeping your back straight, your chest out, and your shoulders down, straighten your right leg out in front of you and tighten your thigh muscles.

Step 2

Lower your right foot back to the floor and do the same with the left leg. Repeat for three minutes, which is about as long as it takes to toast a slice of bread. Feel the burn, but don’t burn the toast! 

Tricep dips

Man doing triceps dips

This sucker targets the muscles that run down the back of your upper arm, from your shoulder to your elbow. It’s a bigger muscle group than your biceps, so working your triceps is a quick way to get bigger, more balanced, and great-looking arms. All you need is a raised surface, like a desk, sturdy chair or table, to push yourself off of. Walking by the sofa on your way to getting a snack from the kitchen? Time to fire off some tricep dips!

Step 1

Sit on the edge of a chair or bench with your hands next to your thighs.

Step 2

Lift your body up from the chair with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent.

Step 3

Lower yourself down, so your elbows bend no more than 90 degrees and push yourself back up. Repeat for three minutes, which is less than the length of a typical TV commercial break. Next time you’re watching the tube on the couch, it’s go time!

Wall Squats

Last but not least, these awesome leg-strengtheners work many of the muscles in your lower body. Improve your hockey and golf game (or any sport for that matter), lift heavier objects without killing your back, and increase your stamina in bed (and we don’t mean sleeping).

Step 1

Stand straight with your back up against a wall. 

Step 2

Slowly lower your body until your knees are bent at 90 degrees.

Step 3

Hold for at least 15 seconds. The longer you hold, the more intense the wall squat becomes. Repeat for three minutes, which is less time than it takes to roast a perfect marshmallow. (Unless you like ’em well-done, in which case it takes about 12 seconds.) 

Why exercise is essential

Regular physical activity strengthens your muscles, heart, lungs and bones, helps you sleep better, keeps your mind sharp, and reduces the risk of everything from stroke and diabetes to depression and various forms of cancer.

The cost of the exercises on this list? Zero dollars and zero cents. The benefits of doing them? PRICELESS!

Is there a quick and easy exercise that does the trick for you? Share your tips in the comments below!

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