After a long day working the fields or on the farm, kicking back with a beer can sound a lot more appealing than working out. And, with a day full of physical labour, isn’t that exercise enough? To make matters worse, the winter weather can make you want to hibernate inside and watch tv.

The truth is, working hard on your farm or at a physical job isn’t the same as getting some pure cardio in. Physically demanding jobs also tend to be repetitive, so being able to do the same movements over and over again requires a certain level of endurance and mobility. Working in some extra cardio can help to make your day a bit easier by building up your endurance. Stretches can help you improve your mobility and avoid injury. 

And while there are ways we all justify skipping exercising, the reality is that a good workout gives us the extra mojo to do what we do best, to our absolute best. 

Getting started

You don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment to get an effective workout in, contrary to what evening infomercials might be selling us all. 

There are lots of quick, no-equipment-necessary, at-home workouts you can do to keep your routine interesting. And there’s no need to break the bank or brave the winter weather on a long drive to the closest gym.

10 minute any time cardio

This is a simple way to fit in 10 minutes of cardio at the beginning of your day, at lunchtime or any time in the evening. All you’ll need is a timer and a bit of space. Set your timer for 1 minute and do as many reps as possible for 40 seconds. Then take a 20 second break before moving on to the next exercise. 

You can do all 10 exercises, or pick your top 5 and repeat the routine twice.

  • Jumping jacks: An oldie but a goodie. Jump your legs apart and, at the same time, raise your arms above your head and clap them together. Then jump your feet together and swing your arms down to your sides. Repeat.
  • High knees: These can be done with or without arm movements. Standing in one spot, raise your knees up one at a time as high as comfortable. These can be done at a power walking, jogging or sprinting speed. To include your arms, bend your elbows and pump your arms up one at a time with your legs.
  • Squats: Feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees and lower your torso down. Then raise your torso back up and repeat.
  • Mountain climbers: Get down on your hands and knees. Holding your body weight with your arms, stretch your legs out behind you. One at a time, bend your knees and bring one up towards your chest and then extend it back out behind you. Repeat with the other leg. These can be done at a slower pace, or they can be done as a fast jog for higher intensity. 
  • Bicycle sit-ups: Laying on your back, raise your torso up off the ground in a sit-up motion. With your arms bent behind your head, bend your knees and twist your stomach to bring your left knee to your right elbow, then your right knee to your left elbow and repeat.
  • Lunges: With your legs shoulder-width apart, step your right leg forward and lower your body down until your front knee is at a right angle. Then raise your body back up and step back to the starting position. Repeat with your other leg.
  • Switch steps: These are somewhat similar to lunges, except you don’t lower your torso down. Starting with your legs shoulder-width apart, simultaneously jump your left leg forward and your right leg back. Then jump again, moving your right leg forward and your left leg back. Repeat.
  • Skaters: These can be done either as a step or for higher intensity as a jump. Step or jump to the right on your right foot, move your left leg behind your body with your knee bent. Then step or jump to the left, move your right leg behind your body with the knee bent.
  • Jogging in place: This is as simple as it sounds. Jog in place as fast as you’d like for 40 seconds.
  • Plank shoulder taps: Get down on your hands and knees and then extend into a plank with your feet at least shoulder-width apart. Take your right hand and tap your left shoulder, then take your left hand and tap your right shoulder. Repeat. 

5 minute stretches

For better joint health and fewer aches and pains at the end of your day, try including 5 minutes of stretching after cardio.

Hold each one of these stretches for 1 minute:

  • Reach your arms straight up above your head with your palms facing each other
  • Bend over slowly, reach your hands down to your toes and hold
  • Stand with your legs wide apart, bend your left knee, shift your body weight to the left, and hold for 30 seconds. Bend your right knee, shift your body weight to the right and hold for 30 seconds
  • Put your left foot up on a chair, stool, maybe the toilet seat or, if you’re flexible enough, a counter. Lean your body forward over your leg as far as is comfortable and hold for 30 seconds before switching legs
  • Standing twist. With your arms stretched out to your sides, twist to the left and hold for 30 seconds, then twist to your right and hold for 30 seconds

You can build on your routine by starting out with dynamic stretches. Unlike regular stretches you hold, dynamic stretches get you moving to help warm up joints and ligaments.

A few more routines to keep you going

Crushing the “can’t do cycle”

Man chopping wood

“I’m too tired,” “I get enough exercise at work,” and “I don’t have enough time,” are a trifecta of reasons to push workouts to the end of your to-do list. Step one is debunking those myths.

“I’m too tired”

While getting a workout in can feel like a mountain to climb, once you get into it, activity can give you an energy boost and more mental clarity to round out your day. That means you might feel more energized post-workout to play with the kids, spend some one-on-one time with your partner, or get one final project done before you hit the sack.  

“I don’t have enough time”

The beauty of working out is that you can work out for however long you want, even if that’s 10 minutes to start getting into a routine. The important thing is to create the habit first and build from there.

“I get enough exercise at work” 

While work can be physical, there are ways to supplement that and find a fitness balance, like adding in cardio. By walking, running, or whatever your go-to cardio is every day, you can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, decrease the chances of various diseases, and more. 

Cardio for a longer life

At work, you may be moving and burning calories, but that repetitive, tiring labour takes a physical toll. By prepping your body with complimentary conditioning, strength, and cardio exercises, you will add an extra line of defence against those work aches and pains as well as boost your stamina. All this will help set you up with the energy and strength you need to make daily chores that much easier. 

There are lots of awesome reasons to add exercise to your weekly routine: it will help you lose weight, help manage stress and anxiety, and boosts your sex drive, just to name a few. Plus, working out gets you off the couch and away from a popular, infamous winter activity: binge-watching.

So, while a long day at work can feel like you’ve hit your workout goal for the day, adding in that bit of extra exercise can have a huge impact on your work life and your home life. All it takes is a few minutes and some simple exercises to start. 

What exercises do you find easiest to do from home? Let us know in the comments!

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