As society gets more
and more technical and connected, our days, like the globe
itself, seems to shrink. Time is a precious luxury no one has enough of.
While the demands of providing quality care are more than enough, add in
those of family, home, school and more, and itís small wonder that
exercise comes in last on the list of things to do, if it makes that
list at all.
While exercise may
seem like a recreational pursuit-it needs to be a part of your life,
like brushing your teeth or any other personal hygiene habit. The
benefits of exercise go without saying. Exercise is especially vital for
the caregiver; if youíre not feeling your best, you canít perform at
your best. Preaching wonít do any good at this point. We know we need
to get exercise in, the question is simply how? Take a serious look at
your schedule. See what you can devote to your health.
Many people tell me
they donít have any time to exercise-yet they watch 2-3 hours of
television per night! Is it really a question of time-or is it a
question of priorities? Below are some fitness programs for maximum
results in minimum time:
15 minutes per day,
three times per week
With this type of
commitment we donít have a minute to lose, we can only do the most
important component of fitness: cardiovascular exercise. Choose an
exercise that elevates your heart rate and allows you to
sustain the elevated heart rate for 12 minutes or more. The movement
should be full-body or multiple muscle exercise. Great examples include:
walking, biking, running, swimming, inline skating and stair climbing.
While it may seem
obvious, choose an activity you like, thus youíll be more likely to
adhere to it. Too many people do what their friends are doing or what
they saw at 2 am on an infomercial. They never learn to like the
activity and consequently drop activity from their regimen altogether.
Spend a minute before the activity to gradually increase your heart
rate; donít suddenly break into a run. At the end, spend a minute to
slowly decrease your heart rate, slow down and do some light stretches.
Repeat every other day. If your schedule is extremely tight, try to hit
two days per week and either a Saturday or Sunday for your third
session. Hopefully, youíll soon find more time.
25-30 minutes per
day, three to four days per week.
With this schedule,
we can do a bit more and focus on the resistance or muscle
strengthening component of exercise. Start your regimen with the
cardiovascular activity as described above, but add an additional 5
For a quick,
full-body workout do the following:
Push-ups: do as many
as possible without straining or letting your back
sway. Rest long enough to catch your breath then do another set. If you
have difficulty doing more than 5, do them on your knees for the first
few weeks. As your strength improves, move to the traditional form. This
will work your back, chest, triceps and shoulders.
your back against the wall and your feet about two feet
out from the wall, shoulder-width apart, slowly slide down the wall as
far as comfortable. The goal is to get the thighs parallel with the
floor-do not go any lower. Inhale as you go down, exhale on the way up.
Do 10, rest, then do 10 more. This movement is great for the entire
modified sit-ups are ideal for strengthening the
abdominals and lower back. Lie on your back in the sit-up position with
feet flat on the floor, a bend in the legs. Exhale as you simply curl-up
and lift your shoulders and upper back off the floor. Squeeze the abs
and hold this position for one second. Lower yourself and repeat 15
times, rest and do one more set of 15. You can place your arms either at
your side or across the chest to make it slightly harder. Repeat the
above workout every other day.
45-60 minutes per
day, 3-5 days per week
Now weíre getting
somewhere. With this schedule, youíll get great
results, and as fast as genetically possible!
Aim for 20-30
minutes of cardiovascular exercise. Remember to work at a brisk pace
to elevate that heart rate. For resistance
training, start with the exercises above and letís add some more
since time allows for more the targeting of more specific muscle
Back Row: On a bench
or chair, place the right knee and right hand
on the bench/chair/bed and lean forward so your back is parallel to the
floor. With one dumbbell in the left hand, pull the weight up into your
chest. Keep the left elbow close to the body and pull it back high,
above your side. Concentrate on squeezing the shoulder blades together.
Inhale as you lower the weight down towards the floor getting a good
stretch. Repeat on each side. This exercise strengthens the back and
Lateral Raise: Stand
with arms at sides, palms facing body and
holding weights. Simply raise arms out to sides until parallel with floor.
Exhale as you go up, inhale back down. The movement is a great shoulder
Bicep Curl: Standing
with weights and palms facing out, curl
weights up towards shoulders. Keep elbows ďlockedĒ into side and exhale
as you lift the weight up. Develops bicep muscle and also strengthens
grip by developing forearms.
This is great for firming up the back of the arm.
Start with one dumbbell and assume the same position as in the back row.
Bring the arm with the dumbbell up so that your elbow is right nest to
the body. From this starting position, simply exhale as you extend the
arm back, squeezing the back of the arm. Keep the elbow in tight. Inhale
as you return to the starting position.
As you can see, even
on the tightest of schedules, something can be done. The
important thing is to do something and do it consistently. If you have
more time then the examples above, youíre on easy street and can be
quite flexible. One can also do some exercises one day and the remaining
exercises the next. For safety however, only work the same muscle group
every other day. In weight training, a day of rest will do you more good
training can be done every day however. It is also
acceptable to do cardiovascular exercise in the morning and
resistance training in the evening, or vice versa. This is known as a
There you have it.
People who say they donít have time to exercise may be
right-if youíre not exercising, you can be more stressed, have trouble
sleeping, wake-up feeling tired and consequently not as efficient. I
guarantee, with the 20-30 minutes you invest in your health a few days
per week, the rewards will come back ten-fold. When all is said and
done, Iím confident you, like many others, will find exercise doesnít
take time- it creates time.
Good luck and drop
me a note if you have questions or specific challenges. You may also
download a free chart on stretching at
www.anythingfitness.com to help
guide you on the journey to better health.
Sean Kenny is a
certified fitness trainer and internationally published author/lecturer
on health and fitness. He can be reached at
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