How to make time for exercise

How to make time for exercise

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How to make time for exercise

Got a spare two and a half hours to burn? Of course you don’t, but that’s how long the experts say we should spend sweating each week. Make every minute count with these time-saving strategies.

Slice the seconds
If carving out a solid half hour per day for a workout sounds daunting, consider this: Three 10-minute bouts of physical activity will also do your body good. "It doesn’t matter how you slice it, as long as you’re getting 30 minutes throughout your day," says Lauren Shuster, a Toronto-based personal trainer.

This could mean a 10-minute jog first thing in the morning, one at lunch and another after dinner. Not only will you keep your body in calorieburning mode, but you’ll also minimize the boredom that can set in from endless repetition.

Do double duty
Simultaneously engaging your lower and upper body during one exercise is a terrific time-saver. "Since you’re using more energy to perform the combined exercises, you’ll burn more calories in less time," says Pamela Mazzuca Prebeg, Canadian Living’s resident personal trainer and athletic therapist.

For a quick total-body boost, Mazzuca Prebeg recommends 10 to 12 reps of combination exercises, which involve similar movements of both the upper and lower body, such as standing squats with shoulder presses, walking lunges with biceps curls, and plié squats with triceps extensions.

Supersize it
Looking to torch some calories but tortured by the ticking clock? According to Mazzuca Prebeg, focusing on larger muscle groups, such as your legs, offers a quality, time-efficient workout, because you’re burning more calories in a shorter duration. Core conditioning is another way to slim down, especially with exercises like the plank.

"Core training is an efficient workout because you’re transferring energy from your core muscles throughout the rest of your body," Mazzuca Prebeg says.

Page 1 of 2 -- Discover even more expert advice about how to take your workout beyond the gym and turn everyday activities into part of your fitness routine on page 2
She also suggests doing exercises such as walking lunges to actively engage the muscle groups in both your core and legs, and bentknee pushups to target upper-body muscles in your chest and back.

Think outside the gym
Physical activity can happen anywhere, and seizing opportunities wherever you roam can reap big rewards, says Janet Hern, a personal trainer and running coach in Erin, Ont.

Instead of using a cart at the grocery store, for instance, Hern suggests grabbing a basket. "The basket functions as a hand weight, strengthening and stabilizing your
body while you shop," she says.

Try short spurts
Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton determined that high-intensity interval training is a legit – and safe – alternative to lengthier workout sessions.

"It’s more efficient to elevate your heart rate for shorter periods of time," explains Shuster, who suggests pairing 45-second high-intensity intervals with 20 seconds of rest.

According to André Noel Potvin, a Vancouver-based fitness education and rehabilitation exercise specialist, interval training also helps you stay in shape until you’re able to commit to more frequent sessions.

"As long as you’re working at an elevated intensity, you’ll maintain your results," says Potvin, who has used interval training as part of his own maintenance plan.

How close are you to the goal of 150 minutes of physical activity each week? Download our physical activity and progress tracking worksheet at

This story was originally titled "Get Revved Up In No Time" in the June 2012 issue.

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How to make time for exercise