While many of us want to become healthier, squeezing a daily workout plan into a busy schedule can feel almost impossible. It often seems like there are never enough hours in the day, but if you are serious about getting fit, there’s always time to burn extra calories whether you have 10, 30 or 60 minutes to spare.
Making a Workout Plan
When you’re busy, sometimes the only way to get something done is to add it to your schedule. Putting exercise on your to-do list or allotting a set amount of time for working out can make it easier to accomplish. Luckily, workouts don’t have to be for an hour every day.
When making a workout plan, every little bit counts. Intensity can be more beneficial than duration, according to a study by the University of Utah. So if you’re really pressed for time, squeezing in some short bouts of higher-intensity activity between work, errands and other commitments can be just as rewarding.
For substantial health benefits, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity spread throughout the week. It’s up to you whether you want to break up your weekly 150 minutes into two 10-minute daily routines or knock out an hour and 15 minutes in two days. Shorter routines tend to offer a bit more flexibility while longer ones let you work out fewer days a week.
Set a Goal
Exercising should become a priority so it doesn’t fall by the wayside, and setting a goal can help you stay focused. Whether you aim to burn a certain number of calories per day, lose a few pounds or take an inch off your waistline, having a goal can be motivating.
Today’s technology makes keeping track of your accomplishments easier than ever. Smartwatches, wearable fitness trackers and apps can track miles walked, calories burned and more. Feeling and seeing the results can be reassuring and help you stick with your workout plan.
Don’t Do It Alone
While group training isn’t a new concept, the social aspect of working out together can be beneficial. Exercising with your significant other, a friend or family member can make the activity more enjoyable and increases the likelihood everyone will keep up with it. Try a fitness class. Exercising with someone else can help you power through your work out by sparking your competitive edge or keep you going thanks to a sense of support.
Do What Works For You…
It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or an exercise aficionado, we are all different and have our own workout preferences. Some may need to be mindful of old injuries, while others face other limitations like having to stay home with the kids or not having a lot of space to workout.
Workout plans are not one-size-fits-all, and that’s okay. You can find what works for you by knowing yourself and trying different things. If you find an exercise routine you like, there’s no rule that says it has to be your only workout either. Mixing things up will keep exercising interesting and work different muscle groups too. From cycling to dance classes to workout videos you can follow in your living room, there are plenty of options to help you find what you like.
When It Works For You
Once you figure out how and where you want to work out, there’s still the hurdle of finding the time to do it. Here’s where scrutinizing your schedule pays off.
One option is waking up early to exercise first thing in the morning — just make sure you’re still getting your eight hours of sleep. (Incidentally, the National Sleep Foundation says that getting more exercise during the day can help you sleep at night.)
Another option is exercising during your lunch break or at work. If you don’t want to get too sweaty, try simple activities like parking farther away, taking the stairs, going for a walk or simply stretching at your desk. Work-from-home or stay-at-home parents can work out with their kids by lifting them like free weights or using a jogging stroller.
If you can’t set aside a lot of time solely dedicated to exercise, you can always try to double-up by incorporating more movement into other, everyday activities. In this case, double tasking is key. Ask yourself if your commute can become time for exercise. Can you jog, run or bike to work?
10- to 20-Minute Workouts
If you’re exercising for bouts of 20 minutes or less, you’ll want your workout to be intense and give it everything you’ve got in order to really reap the benefits. During a 10-minute workout, you can focus on one part of your body or do more of a full-body workout packed with moves like push-ups, squats, lunges, etc. It’s all about making the most of this brief burst of movement.
Fun fact: Jumping rope for 10 minutes equals about a 45-minute run.
For a 30-minute workout, you could do a specific activity like yoga or steady cardio training one day and mix it up to work different muscle groups on other days. For more variety, you can break up a single 30-minute session even further by starting with a five-minute warm-up, doing 10 minutes of strength training and finishing with 15 minutes on the treadmill.
If you have an hour to spare, heading to the gym for a wide array of equipment and/or fitness classes isn’t a bad idea. AAA members can choose from over 10,000 participating fitness centers nationwide for just $25 a month with the Active&Fit Direct.
Since you’ll be working out longer, this routine only has to be mid-intensity, like brisk walking or elliptical training. More intense workouts like kickboxing or kettle bells will help burn more calories. However, it’s important to ease into any new high-intensity exercise and know your limitations. You don’t want to over-exert and hurt yourself.
Even if your routine is all over the place or you can’t quite fit in the full 150 minutes a week, remember that doing something is better than doing nothing at all.
Do you have a daily workout plan? Tell us about it in the comments.
AAA members can choose from over 10,000 participating fitness centers nationwide for just $25 a month with the Active&Fit Direct program. Learn more.