We are now officially in the full throes of the holidays. Thanksgiving is just behind us and the Christmas/ Hanukkah crush is just beginning. Wintery temperatures are starting to descend around most of the country, and it is becoming just a little harder to go outside and accomplish our daily routine. Extra layers and extra hassle are combining with more responsibilities, and more events are popping up on the to do list daily. What is the first thing that seems to get pushed aside from our daily schedule? Most of the time, it is our workouts. But it doesn’t have to be. One illuminating thing i have learned in the past couple of years is that every little bit counts. I used to lament that I didn’t have that 90 minutes to set aside to do my usual fitness program. So I wouldn’t do anything. That is precisely the wrong mindset to have. Of course, in an ideal world, we are still operating at optimal levels and fitting in those bootcamp and spinning classes, albeit getting them in earlier or later, depending on how we have to juggle our schedule- but what if circumstances are not ideal? Do not skip the sweat! Every little bit counts. And I will tell you why.
If you only have 30 minutes, which would include your dressing & undressing, the easiest thing to do is workout where you are or if temperatures are amenable, going outdoors. If that only means 15-20 minutes of exercise, you can and should still do it! Scientifically, it raises your heartbeat, gets your blood flowing, and boosts your metabolism. The best and most efficient exercise you can do in that short amount of time is high intensity interval training. So, if you are going out for a run, you are jogging to warm up, then running at a good clip, and pushing or sprinting for 30 seconds, going back down to a jog, run, push/sprint etc until your time is up. You can do the same thing without running. If you are doing mountain climbers, squats, or some other weight bearing or plyometric exercise, try doing them in intervals and mixing up the lower impact moves with the higher impact ones. Another amazing and tried and true form of interval training is Tabata style. So pick any higher impact move - for example knee tucks — and you can do jumping knee tucks, expending full out effort for 20 seconds, then resting for 10 seconds, and doing it all again -20/10/20/10/20/10 and so on…. technically repeating the sequence for 4 minutes, however even 2-3 minutes is more than adequate for great results.
Another excellent reason to fit in even just 15-20 minutes of honest to goodness sweat, is for the non-physical benefits you will get - the endorphin high, the mental clarity and resulting focus, are considerably better than sitting around on Facebook or watching television. You come back from a run in the park, and you are refreshed, you are feeling just a little bit tighter all over. So when you go out that night, you are less tempted to eat the wrong foods or indulge because “Hey, this day is a waste anyway, I didn’t workout so I might as well just throw the rest of it down the drain”. Your state of mind is sharper, allowing you to make the right decisions about your choices the rest of the day. Do not underestimate the mental benefits that exercise brings. It is not just physical. Your whole being stands to benefit from even a 15 minute sweat session. One piece of advice is to have on hand a few different short exercise plans written in your pocket (or smart phone!) that you can use as a guideline for when you don't have time to think about it. If you have a plan, you are more apt to execute it! So the next time you "don't have time to work out", challenge yourself to be creative for those 20 minutes. I promise you, it will be worth it.