No time for the gym? Try nano-workouts!


Despite the best of intentions, many people may feel that there are simply too many hurdles to overcome before they find themselves exercising at a gym. You need a gym membership (often steep), you need appropriate clothing and shoes, you need to get yourself across town, you need to plan your workout for the day, and so on. What’s important to remember is that (as far as your health is concerned) physical activity is good for you regardless of where it is done and how fashionable your LuLu Lemon gear might be.

Additionally, as we’ve discussed at length on Obesity Panacea, how much time you spend sitting during the day has a negative impact on your health REGARDLESS of how much exercise you may squeeze it at a later time.

Hence the brilliance of the Nano Workout website. Started by Joakim Christoffersson, the site provides countless ideas for squeezing in mini workouts while doing routine activities, thereby eliminating the need for gym memberships, athletic clothing and the lot.

According to the site’s description:

“Nano workouts are based on the situation you are in and suggests small short exercises using the natural conditions the situation provides. […] A small amount of exercise many times becomes a lot when added up. For instance if you exercise when brushing your teeth it will add up to 24 hours during one year.”

Nano Workouts provides a variety of innovative and often funny mini-exercises (complete with instructional cartoons) that you can do throughout your day – while sitting on the train, while stopped at a red light in your car, while at the office, while in bed and even while sitting on the toilet!

Here are a few examples:

Arm stretch on the toilet

Instructions: “Sit down for some private time and use it to stretch your arms. With one arm behind your back, apply force with the other hand so you feel tension on the outside of your upper arm. You can lean into the stretch to make it more effective. Hold the stretch for about 10 seconds and switch sides a couple of times.”


Toothbrush squats

Instructions: “Squat as deep as you can and repeat as many times as you can manage during the time you brush your teeth. It’s a killer, but you’ll be happy when you’re done.”

The basket lift

Instructions: “Picking up some groceries, why not work those arms at the same time? This workout is as simple as they come. Just pick up a basket and carry it with a slightly bent arm. It’s a static exercise that will give your upper arms a good workout. Don’t forget to switch arms”

While the gym has always been a favourite place of mine to expend some calories, over the past two years, I’ve become much less reliant on a structured gym to incorporate physical activity into my day. As you may remember, I tried my hand at a mini-exercise routine back in 2011 utilizing water jugs and various pieces of furniture. To this day I continue to do random mini-exercises around the house, though I must admit I’ve since parted with the water jugs. But I’m happy to see that others are even nuttier than I regarding incorporating physical activity into their daily routine. I tip my hat to Joakim.

While all these silly mini-exercises are one solution for increasing your activity levels whilst reducing your sedentary time (similar to the exercising during TV commercials), it can be even simpler than this (and you might scare off fewer people). For example, you can go for a walk during your lunch hour (which I’ve recently started doing), take the stairs when possible, get off the bus/train/subway one stop earlier, etc.


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4 Responses to No time for the gym? Try nano-workouts!

  1. Todd says:

    I think for me this concept would work only to the degree that I could frame each of the nano-workouts as challenges. If they seem arbitrary and convenient I wouldn’t find them rewarding enough to incorporate them as habits.

    Hitting a few flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator, or parking a distance away so I have to walk, or deliberately taking focused stretching and walking breaks can be made to seem like a challenge in my mind. For me exercise has to have some element of challenge to it, even if a minor one. I need a reason to feel good about doing it. I think I would have a hard time thinking of most of these things as challenges, they seem intended as the opposite of a challenge, they seem like they are meant as conveniences. The whole mindset I’m trying to oppose is the complete reliance on conveniences, which is part of the environment causing us to be sedentary.

    If other people are anything like me, I think even more important than just getting people to move is getting them to think in terms of learning to enjoy giving up conveniences sometimes and challenging ourselves a little.

  2. Eunice says:

    I love this article, I have been trying to get to the gym for the past year, but there’s not just enough time, but with this article I believe I will be able to keep in shape. Thanks

  3. nancy says:

    Clinical Trial Brings Elderly Kids From All Over

  4. Robin says:

    The toothbrush air squats made me laugh! I need to try them. Especially before work.