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Instant Fitness

Can you really shape up in just minutes a day? A quick workout routine - or simple lifestyle changes -- may fit your goals.

When 8 Minutes Is Not Enough continued...

 

Even among fitness trainers, there's considerable doubt that eight minutes of exercise a day is really enough for anyone.

 

"Eight minutes a day, of course, is better than nothing, but the surgeon general and the American College of Sports Medicine are still recommending 20 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three to five times a week, and strength training two to three times a week on alternating days," says fitness specialist Kelli Calabrese, MS, ACE, CSCS.

 

"Those guidelines are proven to reduce the risk of deadly diseases like diabetes, atherosclerosis [hardening of the arteries], and obesity, as well as to improve fitness," she says.

 

The benefits of quick workouts, says certified fitness trainer Leigh Crews, are that they simplify a subject many people find confusing; provide step-by-step guidelines to follow; recommend a reduced caloric intake; and set up an easy-to-follow schedule.

 

"You're not really meeting the guidelines set forth by the ACSM, but if you're a totally sedentary individual, even training each muscle group once a week is going to show results over no training at all," says Crews, who specializes in continuing education for fitness professionals.

Get Fit the Sneaky Way

So what should you do if you want to improve your fitness and your health, but can't spare any more time or energy for a workout routine? Try sneaking in some exercise, suggest some experts. Research has shown that working activity into your daily life can be as effective as a structured exercise program in improving long-term cardio-respiratory fitness and blood pressure.

 

Alan Muney, MD, chief medical officer of the Trumbull, Conn.-based Oxford Health Plans Inc., offers these tips:

 

  • Instead of taking the car for short trips, walk. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise that strengthens the bones and burns substantial calories.
  • Combine a shopping trip with a brisk walk around the mall.
  • Instead of taking the elevator or escalator, use the stairs.
  • Listen to upbeat music while cleaning the house, and sweep to the beat.
  • When traveling for business or pleasure, look for hotels with a gym or a pool. Pack a resistance band in your suitcase to keep arms and legs toned, and bring along an exercise tape if the hotel has a VCR.
  • When you're traveling by car, stop periodically to stretch or take a short walk.
  • Work your neck muscles, shoulders, and back with simple exercises done at your desk.
  • Do abdominal crunches, push-ups, or leg lifts while lying on the floor watching television.

 

Keep in mind that adding exercise to your schedule, in any way, in any amount, can also improve other aspects of your life.

 

"Exercise lifts your mood, boosts your self-esteem, and reduces your stress," says Calabrese. "If you can manage to make exercising a priority, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much better you will be at managing life's tasks.

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