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
Another way to sneak more fitness into a busy day is to vary the activities you do during your formal workouts.
Too often, experts say, we get stuck in the rut of doing the same exercise over and over -- be it running on a treadmill, doing circuit training or riding a bike. Yet mastering a single workout isn't necessarily the way to increase fitness. In fact, it might even set you back.
"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.