Workout Tips for the Totally Time-Crunched

Truly useful get-fit tips from our senior fitness editor
December 9, 2010

/lunge-to-balance 

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This time of year it can be sooo hard to find time to work out, can’t it? There are presents to buy, cards to send, cookies to bake, parties to attend. I often find myself wishing I could just ask Santa for a few more hours in the day! Still, having less time to exercise doesn’t mean you should give it up altogether. You’ve simply got to know how to make the best use of the (little) time you have.

Here are my top five tips for staying fit when you’re super-busy:

Up your intensity
If you pick up the pace, you can literally cut your workout time in half. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)the experts to turn to for this sort of thing—says that 20 minutes of vigorous exercise three days a week is just as good as 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week. (Looking for high-intensity workout ideas? Click here.)

Do just one set
Our friends at ACSM also say that you’ll get similar benefits from doing a single set of each strength move as you would from doing multiple sets. So why do more? (I never do.)

Multitask
Instead of doing strength moves that target only a single muscle group, try compound exercises that work two or more at one time. Do bicep curls with lunges, shoulder presses with step-ups, rows with squats. Just be sure to watch your form!

Add weight
Cut your time even further by doing fewer reps with heavier weights than you normally use. (Just make sure they’re not so heavy that you can’t maintain proper form.)

Go for an evening walk
All those beautiful (and, okay, sometimes gaudy) Christmas lights need to be viewed! Slip outside for a short walk around the neighborhood after dinner. Not only will you burn some calories, but you’ll also be reminded of how peaceful this time of year can be. Now that’s a gift worth cherishing.

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