Work More, Rest Less
While you may have set aside 60 or even 90 minutes for your weekly workout, experts say it's doubtful you're actually getting that amount of activity. And the more social and crowded your gym is, the more you are likely to get distracted into conversations that take up valuable workout time.
The key, experts say, is to talk less and move more - and to decrease your rest periods between exercises.
"If you don't give your body a chance to recover between exercises, it must get in better condition in order to repair itself for the next bout of activity -- so you're automatically getting more out of each workout," says Spencer.
By decreasing rest periods, you can also do more work in the same amount of time, he says, and that means better (and faster) results.
Even in a 30-minute workout, Novak says, reducing rest periods will also increase your challenge level - which, in turn, will increase your body's ability to recover. So you end up in better shape without increasing your workout time.
"The idea is not to increase intensity, but to challenge your body by forcing it to recover more quickly," says Novak.
Franklin agrees: "A body at rest tends to remain at rest; a body in motion tends to remain in motion. So the more you move in any given time period, the easier it becomes to keep moving."
Workouts That Work Harder
According to the American Heart Association Choose to Move program, certain activities definitely yield more results than others. The general rule of thumb: The more vigorous the activity, the less time you need to do it to get optimum results. And the more leisurely your activity, the longer your exercise session should be.
According to Choose To Move, spending 15 minutes climbing stairs, jumping rope, or sprinting a mile will give you results equal to that of playing volleyball or touch football for 45 minutes, walking 1 3/4 mile in 35 minutes, or dancing fast for 30 minutes. And you'll get the same result from bicycling 4 miles in 15 minutes as from mowing the lawn for 45 minutes.