One of my exercise goals for 2010 was to exercise five to six days per week. However, now that I’ve added a part-time MBA program to my full-time job and blogging schedule, that goal is unrealistic. For a busy girl who wants to keep health and exercise one of her central priorities, what’s she to do?
Now, rather than say, “Screw it, I’m too busy,” and throw in the towel on my exercise goals, I realized I had to readjust them.
Too often when we fall off the wagon of working toward a goal, we use the all-or-nothing approach. The mentality becomes, “I haven’t worked out in weeks, so what’s the point? Why bother when I’ve already let myself go?”
The good news about falling off the wagon is that you can always hop back on.
The key is to make sure you try a different approach the next time to prevent making the same mistakes.
With that in mind, my new, readjusted goal is to do quality workouts, three to four times a week and then fill in the other days with quantity exercises.
Quantity AND Quality
On days where you know you won’t have time to play outside or hit the gym, go for quantity exercises: Try to do as many mini workouts as you can. Some examples:
More Mini Exercises: The Quantity Approach
- Park at the back of the parking lot of work and walk
- Take the stairs everywhere you go
- Hold the plank position for one minute
- Go for a walk on your lunch break
- Do squats while you brush your teeth
- See how many pushups you can do
- Speed-clean your home
On days where you have more time (half an hour to an hour), go for quality.
Interval Training: The Quality Approach
Interval training will give you the biggest bang for your buck. (This is assuming you are someone who already exercises at least occasionally. If you’re just starting out exercising, you should ask your doctor for an exercise plan that meets your needs.)
Interval training is an exercise system where you push yourself extremely hard, then moderately hard, then take it easy or rest. Each stage is only a few minutes, so one full cycle would be 12 minutes, spending four minutes in each stage. Two or three cycles of interval training and you’ve crammed several days’ worth of exercise into about 30 to 40 minutes!
“‘High-intensity interval training is twice as effective as normal exercise,’ said Jan Helgerud, an exercise expert at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. ‘This is like finding a new pill that works twice as well … we should immediately throw out the old way of exercising,’” according to this Associated Press (AP) article by Maria Cheng.
I haven’t done interval training since my high school sports’ days mainly because it is definitely one hell of a workout, and I enjoy my moderately-paced jogs. After reading Cheng’s article though, I think I’ll give it another try.
Even if you just develop the habit of taking the stairs instead of the elevator, that’s one bit of exercise you wouldn’t have achieved otherwise. Remember, as I’ve said before, the tiny secret to achieving big goals is doing a little bit (almost) every day.
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