I used to be stuck in the mind frame that I needed an hour to make my workout worthwhile. If I couldn’t dedicate a solid hour to exercise, I just wouldn’t do anything. I figured “what’s the point?” and I would just try to go harder the next day. This is bad. I mean, really bad. And quite silly, honestly. Of course doing 50 sit ups is better than doing none, but I really didn’t embrace that at the time. (Or maybe I liked always saying, “Oops I don’t have the time! I guess I’ll have to do it tomorrow :)).
At some point in my life, my opportunities at hour long workouts decreased significantly. I still schedule in 2-3 fitness classes a week (Pilates, barre and yoga are my go to class formats) because they are mentally and physically important to me. The rest of the week, though, I walk with the stroller for 45 minutes every day, and then block an extra 20-30 minutes when my daughter goes down for her nap. For my mental health as much as my physical health, I cherish that time and make it a priority to keep it in my schedule. It’s forced me to be creative and find new ways to strength and cardio train, while also stepping outside of my comfort zone (goodbye to leisurely elliptical jogging with my magazines – I miss you!).
Since then, I’ve had many people tell me they also skip working out if they only have a certain amount of time! If you are someone who thinks “what’s the point?” if you have less than 60 minutes to work out, I get it! I really do. I’m here to tell you, though, that ANY amount of working out is beneficial. It is actually better to do a 20 minute workout where you go ALL OUT, than a 60 minute workout where you read People cover to cover on the elliptical and don’t break a sweat. I finally saw the body changes I’d been working towards for years when I ran out of hour long blocks to work out. When I was forced to fit my exercise into 10-30 minute chunks of time, my strength and muscle tone really reacted because I was making myself do challenging things in that amount of time. I didn’t put a lot of rules or guidelines together – I just did really hard things for the amount of time I had, so that I was shaking and sweating at the end.
I don’t think a well rounded exercise and health program involves ONLY 20 minute workouts every day, but I do think you can easily incorporate them into other activities to get the benefits you want. If you walk at lunch every day with your co-workers, you can add 10 minutes of abdominals, arm and leg weights (on alternating days) for an awesome overall program! If you are training for a long run, do 10-20 minutes of stretching and core work on your shorter run days for cross training. Our You Tube channel has a lot of great options for 5-20 minute workout options. This is also a great round-up of home exercises to try.
Last week, I had walked some hills with the stroller in the morning, and my legs were still recovering from a barre class and weight lifting in the days before. I wanted some arm work, but had computer work to do and two conference calls while my daughter was napping that day. I literally had ten minutes between calls, so I put energetic music on my phone and started a stopwatch. I did push-ups for 30 seconds, then held a handstand against the wall for 30 seconds. I continued alternating for ten minutes, and was pooped at the end. I actually had a ton of extra energy for my calls, too! I do work from home and am in my workout clothes all day, so for those of you in an office, maybe try this on your lunch break or before heading to work. I would LOVE to see you doing a handstand in your work clothes and office between calls, though! How awesome would that be??
You can use this formula for any modification or exercise that’s right for you. For the full benefit, I recommend picking two that you can jump between fairly quickly so your heart rate stays up. I would also pick the same muscle group for maximum fatigue. You want to be able to maintain good form, but a little shaking here is good :). I used handstands simply because it’s one of my goals this year to do an unassisted handstand, so I’m working on them. Another great arm variation would be push-ups on your knees alternated with tricep dips. Or sit-ups alternated with holding a plank for a great core workout. Remember to stop if you have pain and check with your doctor before starting something new.
The point is – move! Don’t put yourself in this “I must have an hour to workout” box. Your body benefits from any type and any amount of movement, so get yourself moving. Ready, set, go!