During the holidays, when time was stretched so thin, it seemed like every time I was determined to go to the gym, something would throw me off. I thought to myself, Just wait until the new year when things calm down, there’ll be so much time to exercise! The problem is that the gym is a drive from my house, so it’s not cost-effective, time-wise, to go for a short workout; if I don’t have time for a long workout, it’s just not worth the gas.
But of course, once the New Year came, along with it came a long list of responsibilities to manage. And—surprise!—the new year holds exactly the same hours in each day as the last one did. How do I forget that every year? I still couldn’t find a way to carve out two hours to get to the gym and get a meaningful workout accomplished.
As it seemed like I was falling behind in my commitment to make it to the gym each day, I realized that I’d better come up with some ideas for working out at home, something I could do in the short amounts of time that I did have free. I had a set of 5lb dumbbells shoved under the bed; so I dusted them off, referred to a book on women’s fitness and came up with the following fast exercise program:
- Shoulder raises (arms straight overhead)
- Bicep curls
- Tricep kickbacks
- Chest flys (lying on the floor)
- Oblique (side) crunches (on each side)
- Lunges (on each side)
I do 10 reps of each exercise, which adds up to 100 reps in the set, in less than 10 minutes. Rest for a minute in between, then repeat twice more so you do 3 sets of each in under 30 minutes. Even if I am busy all day long, if I set an alarm to go off 30 minutes before I need to pick up the kids from school, I can fit in this program and know that I at least accomplished a little fitness in my day.
I asked Matt Jacobs, MA, RD, LD, NSCA-CPT, Sports Dietician and Fitness Consultant, for his assessment on my fast fix workout, and he says, “this is a good resistance workout when you are crunched for time.” But he also cautions that research shows that muscles need to rest, so this type of workout should not be done every day. “You may consider doing this every other day and maybe walk on the days in between.”
That’s a powerful reminder—10 minutes of exercise can add up. “Research has shown that you will get the same benefits from 3 walks of 10 minutes as you would from a 30-minute walk,” continues Matt. So next time you think that you don’t have time to exercise, or you think that you’ll just sit down for a few minutes, consider a different way of using that time. Just like with many of the big things in life, exercise can be managed one small step at a time.
Matt also recommends that you challenge yourself with weighted workouts. I first did 5 sets of these exercises (without weights), but he recommends for the most benefit to “shoot for 3 sets, max, adjusting the weight so that reps 9 and 10 are challenging.”