“Lack of time” is the most common excuse in exercise avoidance(1). I’m not sure how that works since we all have 24 hours in a day; an average of 8 hours and 31 minutes are spent in bed and an average of 8 are spent at work, potentially leaving 7.5 hours for food, exercise, chores and “life”. But instead of pointing out these numbers and telling you to bite the bullet and make exercise a priority in your daily schedule, I thought I’d help you out and give you three time-savvy exercise ideas to help you get active this summer without sacrificing your 7.5 hours of “life” time…
Your day IS an exercise session.
Little spurts of activity built into your pre-existing schedule create a surprising daily workout without sacrificing precious time. Get more creative than just taking the stairs; how many squats would you do in a day if you did two every time you picked your kids’ stuff off the floor? Calf raises while you brush your teeth, pushups while you wait for your toast to pop, a few lunges while you wait for the coffee machine to spew out your skinny latte, a set of crunches while you’re on the phone to your mother, 10 minutes of yoga while the baby is sleeping. Try jogging to the train station in the morning instead of taking the bus, or holding a plank for the length of an infomercial while watching TV. This type of exercise won’t break a sweat, won’t feel like a massive endeavor, and won’t waste time, but if you accumulate your efforts throughout the day, you’ll have an ongoing bootcamp-worthy workout keeping you in shape.
You DON’T have to commit 2 hours to a workout, in fact you don’t even have to get out of your pajamas. There is a massive body of research suggesting that ‘high intensity low volume’ sessions are super effective at improving fitness(2). I call them “power sets”. The idea is to work really REALLY HARD for a short period of time instead of moderately for two hours. Follow these 3 simple rules to build your own personalized “power set”
- Keep it short! 10-20 minutes is all you need… and all you CAN do if you’re working at the right intensity.
- Work harder! You’ll only be pushing it for a few minutes so don’t be afraid to go hard. Rest is only allowed at the end of the set, thus keeping your heart rate high and your muscles pumping.
- Choose functional, multi-muscle exercises and rotate through the muscle groups (legs, then arms, then abs, then back). This maximizes your efforts and keeps you from fatiguing early.
My Tuesday morning power set looks like this –
15 jumping squats, 20 tricep dips, 30 sit-ups with torso rotations, 25 push-ups with hip extension, 40 bicycle kicks. Rest for 90 seconds and repeat 4 times. Follow it with a protein filled breakfast and you’re ready for your shower 30 minutes after your alarm went off.
Socialize with Exercise
Coffee with a mate, friendly catch ups, first dates, second dates, sixty-seventh dates; these are all perfect excuses to socialize and exercise simultaneously. A twenty minute walk and a fresh squeezed juice is a much healthier option than a full fat latte and double choc mud cake when your sister is in town. Or how about swapping your Friday afternoon drinks for a game of doubles tennis? Try taking your joggers along to your kids’ soccer practice and catching up on the weeks’ gossip while you and your friends get active. Instead of a fancy dinner for your 7th anniversary go ice-skating! Look through this month’s schedule and ask yourself which meetings you could turn into sneaky exercise sessions.
It’s easy to incorporate a couple of these tips into your everyday life, and once you add your weekly yoga session and Monday night touch football comp (insert your preferred activities!), you end up feeling great and looking fit with enough spare time to enjoy all the benefits!
- Berger, B. G., Pargman, D., & Weinberg, R. S. (2002). Foundations of Exercise, Psychology. Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.
- Jenkins, D. G., Laursen, P. B. (2002). The Scientific Basis for High Intensity Interval Training, Sports Med; 32 (1): 53-73.