Chances are, you sit down too much. In this day in age, in which we're recommended to do at least 150 minutes of activity a week, it's very difficult to rack up those sorts of numbers if we're always on the go. If you're working from home as a result of the ongoing pandemic, you're likely to also be doing less unstructured exercise than ever before. No commuting, less walking to social occasions, and a lot more sitting on the sofa watching Netflix.
All this sitting can play havoc with your body, especially your core and hips. Studies from the University of Salford (opens in new tab) have found that prolonged sitting and physical activity is associated with reduced hip mobility, possibly due to a "physiological adaptation in passive muscle stiffness". In other words, the longer you sit, the less you use your legs, the stiffer your muscles get.
Enter this simple, three-move barre-inspired workout created exclusively for Fit&Well by Barreworks' Vicki Anstey (opens in new tab), designed to improve your hamstrings, calves, glutes and hip flexors. It also works small stabilising muscles in your core and lower back: in other words, it's the perfect anti-sitting workout.
Anstey said: "This short 10 minute workout is perfect for a bit of lower-body invigoration. If you've spent too much time sitting down during lockdown, now's your chance to get up and get a little bit of movement going. I've made it super-simple so it's accessible for everyone."
Watch Vicki Anstey's workout here:
- Plie squats (see the video: as a normal squat with feet facing outwards), 2 mins.
- Lunges to plie squats (lunge as normal, then swivel your back foot to point the other direction), 2 mins.
- In a lunge position, bring your heel up and pulse, creating instability. 1 min.
- Repeat the workout on the other side.
Lunges and squats are multi-joint exercises called compound movements, which work multiple different muscle groups. This makes this workout extremely efficient, toning lots of different muscles simultaneously. It's dead easy to do first thing in the morning before you hop in the shower, or when you're feeling stiff from a long day at work. All you really need is a chair to hold like a ballet barre.
Barre is a dance-inspired calisthenics discipline that has you holding onto a horizontal barre, usually around solar plexus height, so you can balance properly while performing some of the more demanding moves. Plie, for example, has you legs moving outwards, stretching your hips, so you might need a balancing aid.
Once you've tried this workout with the back of a chair and found you're balancing well, try removing your hand from the chair, as the added instability will increase your core engagement. Paired with a few additional techniques from our list of the best workouts for abs, you'll be sporting a six-pack to go with your toned legs in no time.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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