Quick Exercise Program
I don't have much time to exercise. What type of exercise should I be doing to get the most benefit in a short period of time?
Basically, the more intense a given workout is, the more training benefits and caloric expenditure you'll receive for a given time period. For instance, a 15 minute run burns more calories and trains your cardiorespiratory system more effectively than a 15 minute leisure walk. However, try not to overdo it by going beyond an intensity that is safe for your individual fitness level. Exercise at the upper end of your safe intensity range.
Consider setting up a circuit consisting of strength training exercises interspersed with aerobic type stations. This type of exercise session is a great way to get the best return for your precious time allotment. The circuit stations should include a range of upper and lower body exercises and should challenge your cardiovascular system as well, resulting in a complete full body workout. The amount of time at each station can vary, but typically should last from 45 to 90 seconds. Depending on the number of stations, you can complete each station once or rotate through the course two or three times. Even 15 to 20 minutes of a circuit can be extremely valuable. Get creative and imaginative in setting up your stations. Anything from jumping on the kids' trampoline to doing lunges across the front lawn can enhance your circuit workout.
Consider exercises such as:
- Abdominal crunches
- Step-ups (on a stable chair or bench)
- Running, Striding, or Sprinting (even running in place if necessary)
- Upper body strength moves using hand weights (i.e., shoulder press, bicep curl, tricep kickbacks)
- Jumping jacks
- Knee lifts
- Running up stairs
One of the keys to effective circuit training is to keep your heart rate elevated. Move from one station to the next without any rest in between. By design, the strength training stations will allow your heart rate to recover some between aerobic stations, resulting in a good interval type workout. Despite being short on time, always remember to cool down properly and take the time to complete a stretching routine.
Our expert, Dr. Sharon E. Griffin, holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in the areas of exercise science/physiology. She also holds a second M.S. degree in Nutrition and is a licensed nutritionist and an ACSM certified health and fitness instructor.
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