Working ridiculously long hours has become the norm, and thanks to tech we never truly escape it. Work is with us almost all of the time. That makes the free time we do have rather scarce and super precious.
That means the “extras” of life such as regular exercise suffer. Exercise becomes something we’d like to do rather than something we find time to do. But guess what? For a workout to be beneficial, you don’t need to spend hours at it. To be fit and healthy, you need around 150-minutes of activity a week – that’s a little over 20-minutes a day (not including warming-up and cooling down!). That’s enough to even help you lose weight!
So let’s translate this into real terms. Exercising for a mere 20 minutes a day will help you slim down, firm up, make you healthier, stronger and more energetic. Not only are you reaping massive rewards, but in the end you’re also saving time. How? Because you’re less likely to get sick; and since you no longer feel beat half way through the day, you’re more productive and efficient. If we were to do the math, you’re probably doubling the return on the time you invest exercising.
20 minutes of exercise a day is probably on of the best investments you’ll ever make! And we’ll show you how you can squeeze a workout into even the most hectic schedule.
1. Turn your commute into a workout
Commuting is a huge waste of valuable time so why not try and make this time more active? You could walk, cycle or run to work, or set off a little earlier than usual and stop in at a gym conveniently located en-route. Even 20-minutes of brisk walking every day can add up to some significant health and fitness benefits. And seeing that commuting can be so soul-destroying, why not try and make more of this otherwise wasted time?
If you’ve got an awesome boss, why not suggest that being more active will reduce sick days and increase profits; maybe they’ll spring for some gym equipment, pay or subsidize for a gym membership, or equip your office with showers. No shower at work? No excuse. There are plenty of ways to freshen up without a shower.
2. Workout at lunch time
If you normally have lunch at your desk or, worse still, skip lunch altogether, you are missing out on a great workout opportunity that will actually increase post-lunch productivity (if you need a slightly longer lunch break don’t forget to tell that to your boss!). A quick walk, run or a session in a nearby gym can leave you invigorated, pumped up, and ready to work hard all afternoon. If you need a longer lunch break for your workouts, start work a little earlier or leave a bit later.
3. Do mini-workouts
Lots of people have an unnatural hang up with workouts that last 60-minutes and consider anything less to be pointless. But 60 isn’t the magic number. Yes 60-minute workouts are great. But if you don’t have this amount of free time available, shorter workouts are absolutely worth doing.
Let’s talk super short workouts. Mini-workouts can be 10 minutes or less, but that doesn’t mean they are low on benefits. In fact, research shows that doing several moderate to high intensity mini-workouts a day can be as good than one long workout for fitness and even weight loss. Many people also find short bursts of exercise to be more enjoyable and are more likely to stick with it.
Short bouts of cardio such as power walking, running and jump rope, or few sets of pushups, squats, lunges and sit-ups spread throughout your day quickly adds up to something quite significant – a seriously effective workout.
4. Work out at your desk
Your desk might not seem like the ideal place to exercise but, surprisingly, you can get quite a good workout without leaving your workstation. Sit on a stability ball to work your core, and keep a pair of dumbbells or resistance bands at your desk. Squat in and out of your chair, do isometric arm curls under your desk, use a hand gripper or break out a resistance band – with a little imagination you can stay active right at your desk!
5. Be a weekend warrior
School or work may take up most of your weekdays but what about weekends? Use your weekends to catch up. While you might not be able to exercise every day, perhaps you can fit in one or two short workouts in the week, then top it up with two longer workouts over the weekend. Hit the gym for an hour on Saturday and Sunday, you can get in pretty good shape without having to commit too much time to working out. Slip in a few mini-workouts during the week and you’re set!
6. Do supersets, tri-sets or giant sets
Don’t forget strength training. Not only does it boast important health benefits, it’s also key to looking toned. To save time strength training, try supersets, tri-sets or giant sets, instead of following the regular pattern of doing one set of an exercise, resting a minute and then repeating.
Supersets involve performing two exercises back-to-back so rest periods are halved. For example, do a set of pushups immediately followed by a set of pull-ups. Rest for a moment and repeat.
For tri-sets, perform three exercises back to. For example, leg extensions, leg curls and lunges.
A giant set involves four exercises or more done in the same fashion.
Supersets, tri-sets and giant sets allow you to get a lot done in a fraction of the time of normal workouts, and are ideal for when you need sneak in a fast but effective workout.
7. Do interval training
Interval training involves alternating periods of high intensity cardio exercise with periods of easy recovery. The increased average intensity of this type of workout means that, when compared to traditional steady paced cardio, it is much more demanding and so the workout is a lot shorter. If you go for a steady paced jog, you might head out and run for 40, or more, minutes. However, if you run fast for two-minutes and slow for one-minute repeated eight times, your workout will only take 24-minutes and will be just as, if not more, beneficial. Interval training burns more fat not only while you are doing it but afterwards as a result of a phenomenon called EPOC – short for Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. Put simply, interval training gives your metabolism a boost that lasts long after you’ve finished your workout. Interval training not only saves you time, but also delivers incredible results.
8. Socialize and exercise
If you enjoy spending time with your family and friends but also want to get some extra activity into your busy schedule, why not combine the two doing traditional cardiovascular activities such as hiking, walking, running and cycling or play games such as tennis, squash, basketball or badminton. You’ll still be able to catch up on news and chat – it just might be from the other side of a tennis court!
9. Swap the couch for a workout
Rather than tune in and zone out in front of the TV at the end of the day, get some exercise. It’s nice to relax, but the average American watches 5 hours of TV a day. The solution? Work out in front of the TV.
Clear some space between the couch and television to give yourself some extra room. If you have a treadmill, stationary bike, stepper, rower or elliptical be sure to position it in front of the TV.
You can also jump rope, jump on a rebounder, use dumbbells and other tools to workout in front of the tube. In commercial breaks you can do jumping jacks, burpees and other high-intensity exercises.
Remember, you don’t have to exercise in one long bout, several short bursts (see mini-workouts above) are just as effective. Just pretend the TV executives put in the frequent and rather long commercial breaks to give you an awesome opportunity to work out – maybe that’s what they do too!