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No Time to Work Out? Get Fit in a Flash

With these fitness shortcuts, you can exercise less and benefit more.

Double Up Your Workout continued...

"When the body is doing a set rhythm, it expends less energy than when it's forced into multiple movements," says Novak. The more efficient the body gets at an activity, the more energy it conserves -- and the less you get out of your exercise time.

To increase the burn without adding more time on the workout clock, Novak says, vary your activities, and make each movement as complex and as varied as possible.

"For example, instead of just going for a run, do sprints -- and then stop, start, turn, twist," Novak says. "Add motion and movement into your activity and you'll literally keep your body expending the maximum energy."

Another technique, he says, is to vary your workout equipment. For example, during one gym session you might spend 10 minutes on an elliptical trainer, 10 minutes running on the treadmill, 10 minutes jumping rope, and 10 minutes doing strength training. This means your body works harder, and you'll get more out of your exercise session.

For fitness expert John Ellis Spencer, really focusing on your workout is another way to increase the benefits without working out longer. So skip the reading material on the exercise bike, and don't get wrapped up in a TV show while you're on the treadmill.

"Most people think they are working out far more intensely than they really are, and reading a magazine or book while walking on a treadmill or riding a bike encourages a more leisurely pace, so you don't get the maximum benefit from what you are doing," says Ellis, president of the National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association, in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.

By paying more attention to your activity -- concentrating on posture, and technique, even speed -- you can dramatically increase the benefits.

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."

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