Don't have 60 minutes to sweat? Don't fret! It's all about the effort.
There has been a lot of talk lately about a new study that was done and documented in the Journal of the American Medical Association's March issue that alerted women that in order to simply maintain their weight as they age they need to engage in at least an hour of exercise each and every day. Now for me that seems like no problem but that's just because I thoroughly enjoy busting a sweat; however for perhaps the majority of the populous that amount of time not only seems unappealing but also impracticable due to busy schedules. What I feel is worth pointing out is that what these so called studies usually include for 'exercise' includes household chores (think vacuuming, heavy cleaning, etc.) and even the walks you may take to and from the parking lot. If you were to add all of that up I'm sure you could find the necessary hour's quota.

Now I'm not saying it isn't worth opting for the stairs over the elevator for the sake of sneaking in a little extra, however ,if you want to be a more fit individual those kinds of moderate activities aren't going to do the trick. No amount of folding laundry will grant you a six pack! So then if you are pressed for time but still want to get in a training session you don't necessarily have to carve out a full hour but you can instead up the intensity. If you workout at a higher level you can in fact not only burn more calories than the person who say vacuumed or walked up a few stairs did but you will reap more rewards in terms of your own cardiovascular and muscular fitness as well. So how can you do this?

The answer is simple but it will include a little more discomfort; you just have to bite the bullet and push yourself a little harder but for a shorter amount of time. You don't have to go out there and kill yourself but for the harder efforts you should be breathing hard and on a scale of one to ten you should be at around an eight. It has been proven time and time again that interval training, which I have done multiple posts on before, (and here is one for those just starting out and want to ease into it!) is perhaps the best possible way to cram in a shorter workout but maximize your benefits. What this would entail is bouts of harder exertions followed by those of an active recovery where you are giving yourself a chance to regroup before the next interval.

I've done this training lately on the Krankcycle; I'm not able to workout as long on this machine compared to what I was able to run (my arms are pathetically weak compared to my legs! Now, they are gaining strength and I've increased my time but I still have a ways to go!) so what I do is I make the most of the minutes I am on it. There are a plethora of variations you can take on interval training by mixing up how long you go and the length of recovery. You can also do a sort of 'tempo' effort which is where you go at the same harder effort you would in an interval but you sustain it in one effort for longer (say 15 minutes) without rest; this would be done after warm-up period.

The basics of interval training can be as easy and doing one minute of a hard effort followed by one minute of an active recovery (if you're running this would be a slow jog; you just want to keep moving so the blood's flowing) and then you repeat. Intervals can be done an any kind of cardio machine or activity so long as you get your heart rate up for the hard parts. You can then get in a far better workout in the span of 30 minutes (warm-up and cool-down included!) than others who may have kept up a moderate pace for an hour. What's better is you'll be off and about the rest of your day sooner!

Sample Interval Session:

5 minutes warm-up (on a scale of one to ten of exertion you should feel about a 6-7)

1 minute hard interval (should be done at a level of an 8; you should be breathing hard!)
1 minutes active recovery (keep moving just enough to stay active but allow yourself to recover; it should feel very easy)

You then repeat the previous two minutes ten times for a total of 20 minutes

5 minutes cool-down
(this can be relaxed and the purpose is to flush out the lactic acid that built up; ideally if you have a few extra minutes to workout you'd add some time to your warm-up and cool-down.)

The great thing about intervals is it all hinges on your own abilities and perceived effort; you are only 'competing' against yourself. As you gain fitness you will then be able to go faster or cover more distance (or achieve more RPMs) but the intensity will feel the same; the improvements will motivate you to keep coming back for more and what's better is you will be infinitely more fit than any vacuumer! ;)

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