Fitness doesn't have to mean pounding it out for an hour before or after work. Sure, that may be effective, but you don't have to take an all-or-nothing approach, says Amy Dixon, a personal trainer whose newest DVD is Give Me 10! 10 Minute Workouts for a Total Body Tone Up (Stockyard, 2009).
Exercise doesn't have to be done in the gym for 60 minutes straight. That approach can set you up for failure, she cautions. Indeed, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh studying 139 women found that those who exercised 10 minutes several times a day were more successful, both with gaining fitness and sticking to a routine, than their counterparts who exercised in a single longer session. Here Dixon, also the group fitness manager at Equinox Fitness Clubs in Santa Monica, California, offers routines and tips for four different chunks of time10, 20, 30, and 60 minutesso that those frustrating lulls (your kid's soccer practice, waiting for the cable guy) can become the most productive workouts of your day.
Most people, no matter what their fitness level, neglect flexibility, which can lead to tight muscles and potential injuries, says Dixon. This routine is easily done in comfortable street clothes, yoga mat optional. What's more, 10 minutes of using your breath mindfully brings down stress levels and helps clear your mind, boosting concentration and productivity for the rest of the day. Repeat each pose three to five times.
This program is about going as hard as you can for 20 minutes, says Dixon. You elevate your heart rate for an intense, short period, so youre quickly building muscular and cardiovascular strength. Warm up for 3 minutes by marching in place or walking on the treadmill. For the next 14 minutes, alternate between doing one of the following strength moves for 1 minute and jumping rope for 1 minute.
This total-body routine uses compound moves, which means you move more than one muscle at the same time, says Dixon. Not only does that strategy mimic the demands of real life, it also fires up your metabolism more efficiently than if you were doing simpler moves. Go through the following sequence three times, performing 15 reps of each exercise in each set. Equipment: hand weights (3 to 15 pounds) and a Swiss ball.
The American College of Sports Medicine suggests doing 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 5 days a week, a notch above the 30 minutes, most days a week recommended by the Surgeon General to maintain overall health. Shoot for 60 minutes a couple days a week to expedite weight loss and fitness gains, says Dixon. If possible, select an outdoor route with hills to increase the challenge.