Why do work, family obligations, social events, weather, traffic and seemingly everything else seem to get in the way of our workouts? Even with the best intentions, life can just get busy sometimes—so busy that exercise takes a back burner as far as priorities. However, rather than throwing in the towel on fitness altogether, try these five effective exercise time-savers the next time you have less time for a full workout…
1. Intensify Time with Intervals
Now I know that everybody is different, but personally speaking I always get the best workout when I do intervals—short blasts of exercise with recovery periods between. The bonus is that an interval workout (or a HIIT, which stands for high intensity interval training) will take you half the time, while still burning a decent amount of calories.
According to a research study published by the Journal of Physiology, participants who performed 90-minutes of HIIT each week maintained similar cardiovascular benefits to participants who performed 5-hours of constant exercise.
2. Take Advantage of TV Commercial Breaks
We all know that the average commercial break is 2-minutes and 22-seconds long. So the next time you’re watching the newest episode of your favorite show, keep a skipping rope nearby.
Instead of reaching for popcorn or swigs of soda during commercial breaks, get up and jump rope for 2:22. I timed it, skipping during the commercial breaks of an hour-long television adds up quickly. My pedometer counted just over 2,000 steps!
3. Walk Whenever Possible
If you have little time for daily exercise, do yourself a favor and attempt to sneak a few walks into your day. I aim to walk over my lunch hour and then eat my sandwich at my desk while I work.
I also park further away from building entrances to get in a few extra steps, and walk to my local grocery to pick up milk and eggs—rather than drive the 3 blocks.
Sneaking in a few 10- to 15-minute walks over the course of a day can really add up and still promote healthy blood pressure, according to studies from Arizona State University.
4. Make Weights a Once-a-Week Duty!
Many of us (myself included) get overwhelmed when we commit to too many workout priorities. For instance, you don’t have to run every morning and do a resistance training class (i.e. hot yoga, body pump, TRX) every single weekday.
Instead, lower the pressure on yourself when you have time constraints. Research from the University of Alabama, at Birmingham, shows that during hectic times, resistance training once weekly (or once in 7-days) will ensure you maintain muscle and tone over short, busy time periods.
5. Prioritize Cardio
I know that experts, such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), suggest 30-minutes of moderate exercise, 5-days a week. However, on days when you’re prepping for a big work presentation, studying for exams, or taking care of a sick child it’s just not possible.
Luckily, the ACSM acknowledges that something is better than nothing—meaning even a few 20-minute vigorous runs met with walking as much as possible (look back to slide #3) can help maintain your wellness and fitness over a few demanding weeks.