How To Fit Exercise Into Your Busy Life

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It can be tough to squeeze a workout into a jam-packed day. Maybe you’re motivated in the short term by the thought of fitting into your skinny jeans and in the long term, being able to avoid chronic illness is a big reason to exercise, too.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults engage in moderate-intensity exercise at least 150-minutes a week (brisk walk) or vigorous intensity exercise (jogging, running) at least 75-minutes a week along with 2 days of muscle strengthening exercises.

Miwa Natsuki is the co-owner of Studio360 gym in Oakland, CA and works part-time at University of California, Berkeley as the Personal Training Program Supervisor. She says you might want to break up those 150 minutes into shorter or longer workouts depending on your schedule.

“Some people may prefer 30-minutes of moderate-intensity exercise for 5 days per week while some may prefer 50-minutes for 3 days per week,” Natsuki says. “People with super busy schedules may only have time for 35-40 minutes of vigorous exercise 2 days per week. Another thing to consider is type of activity. Maybe you hate to jog and the thought of doing it for over 30-minutes is daunting. That’s okay, find another activity. Maybe you like to dance or swim. Anything can be exercise as long it gets you moving and get your heart rate up.”

There’s no one-size-fits-all exercise routine or best time of day to workout. It all depends on your schedule. Like, if you work a 9-5, chances are you’ll want to workout before or after work. But if your office has a gym it might be better time management-wise to fit a workout in during your lunch hour.

Natsuki also says High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a a great way to squeeze a powerful workout into 20-30 minutes.

“HIIT is when you perform a high-intensity exercise for a short burst of time followed by a rest interval and repeat. It is a great way to increase your metabolism, power, and overall fitness,” she says.

Exercises like sprinting and plyometric exercises are commonly used for HIIT. You can choose your intervals. Start with a 1:2 ratio between work and rest so you do 30 seconds of work followed by 1 minute of rest and repeat that 3 times. After few weeks, maybe you decide to make it harder by changing the ratio to 1:1 (making the rest interval shorter) or by increasing the number of repetitions (4 times instead of 3).

The most recent research shows that just being more active throughout the day might be more efficient in burning calories than going to the gym for one hour and sitting at your desk the rest of the day, explains fitness expert Jill Brown. Brown  is a certified trainer and instructor with 20 years of experience, specializing in working with clients with injuries.

“A day of walking up and down stairs in your office, going shopping, doing your own housework and gardening — all those activities that are part of a non-sedentary lifestyle can actually cause you to burn more calories than just going to the gym for one hour,” Brown says.

And here’s a key thing to keep in mind: Don’t look to what’s convenient because you’ll end up sitting more.

“Walk when you can rather than take a car, don’t hire someone to clean your home, and be sure to get up from your desk and walk around — even if it’s just to the water cooler– as often as possible,” she advises.

What do you do to squeeze fitness into your busy day? Tell us in the comments.

 

Flickr images courtesy of Mike Baird

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