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Aid Worker Health & Wellbeing #2

Monday, Jan 02, 2017
by Humanitarian Institute


New year, new goals, new you?

We know a lot of international aid workers find they don’t get the opportunity to leave the office or compound to exercise. If so, this post is aimed at you! It aims to give you a quick, hard, whole body workout.

You’re welcome!

We’re talking 15 minutes in the morning or evening (preferably both). This time will go a long way towards improving your health and well-being - if you give 100%.

We have little time for aid workers who tell us they have no time. In fact we’ve become so good at defying humanitarians aversions to training and maintaining a healthy lifestyle that we can debunk 90% of excuses quicker than most can say

"I don’t have…"


However, we do recognise that there are some situations in which a lot of exercise and nutrition options simply aren’t achievable. We realise there are times when you physically can’t leave the compound, are limited on time and have no access to equipment. Sure it's not ideal, but we can work with it.

Thus, this is the no excuses workout.

You need less floor space than a dining room table. A stopwatch (say your smartphone). But most of all you need the desire to stop making excuses and start making changes.


Put the phone somewhere you can see it. Once you hit the start button you’re going to get to work. We’re just going to perform three simple exercises with perfect, controlled form…

Exercise one, our favourite, the squat.

Squat. That’s it. Just squat all the way down, arse to grass. Five controlled reps.

After the fifth rep, squat down again and place your hands on the floor. From there explode your feet out, ending up in the top of a press up position. This brings us to exercise two.

The press up.

We’re sure you don’t need us to draw you a diagram. Lower yourself down until your chest touches the floor (yes, touches the floor) before pressing back up. Repeat five times. After the last rep, hold yourself in the top of the press-up position and move straight in to exercise three.

Mountain climbers.

Rapidly tuck one knee towards your chest before returning back to a straight legged position. Immediately perform the same movement with the opposite leg. Perform these quickly, 5 on each leg for a total of 10. Once done, jump both legs back up towards your hands, finishing in a crouch, and into 5 more squats.

Bam, that’s it!

5 squats, 5 press ups, 10 mountain climbers, 5 more squats.

Perform these exercises on the minute, every minute (remember EMOM from our last health blog?) for as long as you have spare… 15 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever!

Even if you only have 10 minutes, you’ve still completed 100 reps for your lower body and 50 for your upper, with a cardio kick.

That’s rock n roll.


Each set (25 reps) should take you 30-40 seconds to complete (increasing in time as you get tired). What you do for the rest of the minute is up to you. But lying on the floor gasping for air is not an option! Skip or jog on the spot if you want to increase the burn, pace around the room, it doesn’t matter… Just be ready to go on the top of the next minute.

You can do this for as long as you like, as often as you like. If you’re untrained, trying to shift a few kegs or want to feel better about yourself, it could be the mainstay of your aid worker exercise regime. Complete it for at least 20-30 minutes, 3-5 times a week and you will see and feel differences in no time!

You’ve got nothing to lose.

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