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Best Exercises for When You’re Short on Time

These four do-anywhere moves are perfect when you need a quick fitness fix.

There are times when a trip to the gym just isn’t in the cards. But that doesn’t mean you need to skip your workout entirely. These four simple body-weight exercises from Jim White, ACSM exercise physiologist and owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios, based in Virginia Beach, Va., can give you a full-body boost to see you through. And who knows, these moves might even become part of your regular routine.

Wall Push-Ups
What they do: Strengthen arms, shoulders, and chest.

  1. Facing a wall, position your feet a little farther than arm’s length away from it.
  2. Lean forward and place both palms on the wall, level with your shoulders.
  3. Keep your feet firmly planted on the floor and bend your elbows, bringing your chest and head toward the wall in a slow and controlled motion. Your back should be straight with each move and your palms should remain flat against the wall.
  4. Push your body away from the wall slowly with your palms and straighten your arms until you’re back to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 30 times per set, depending on your fitness level (see guidelines below).

What they do: Strengthen arms and chest.

  1. Sit on a sturdy bench or chair, and put your hands on the edge of it, palms flat, wrists straight, knuckles facing forward. Your feet should be together.
  2. Straighten your arms and slowly slide your bottom off of the bench until you’re holding yourself up.
  3. Slowly bend your elbows, lowering your body down; your bottom should go below the bench or chair seat. Straighten your arms to begin again, lifting your body up. Repeat 10 to 30 times per set, depending on your fitness level.

Chair Squats
What they do: Strengthen hips, thighs, and buttocks.

  1. Position your body a step in front of a sturdy chair, with your back facing the chair. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
  2. Shift your weight onto the balls of your feet and slowly bend your knees, lowering your bottom onto the edge of the chair. Keep your knees over your ankles at all times. Make sure your back is straight. Raising your arms out straight in front of you while you squat can help you keep your chest up.
  3. Slowly raise your bottom up and off the chair to a standing position. Repeat 10 to 30 times per set, depending on your fitness level.

Toe Stands
What they do: Strengthen calves and ankles. They also help improve your balance.

  1. Stand facing the back of a sturdy chair.
  2. Position your feet straight and about hip-width apart. Place your hands on the back of the chair for balance.
  3. Slowly rise up onto the balls of your feet, lifting your heels off the floor. Don’t lean or put weight on the back of the chair; use it to keep your balance only.
  4. Carefully lower your heels back down to starting position. Repeat 10 to 30 times per set, depending on your fitness level.

Repetition Guidelines
Beginner Fitness Level: 10 reps, 2 sets each
Intermediate Fitness Level: 20 reps, 4 sets each
Advanced Fitness Level: 30 reps, 4 sets each

Please consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs.