How do you stay on top of your exercise while you’re outside of your normal routine? Whether you’re traveling for the holidays or at home, it’s likely that your schedule is “off” in some way this week – maybe the kids are out of school, maybe you’re staying with your in-laws, maybe you’re flying or driving across the country, or maybe a combination of all three!
Don’t let your exercise habits lag during this crucial part of the year. Why is exercise so important? Don’t you deserve a little break to relax and enjoy yourself? Au contraire! Here are the reasons why exercise is even more important when you may be a little stressed out over the holidays:
- Exercise improves mood
- Exercise boosts metabolism
- Exercise gives you energy
- Exercise increases immunity
So how do you squeeze a fitness routine into an unpredictable schedule where you may not have very much time for yourself until the New Year?
Focus on short duration and high intensity!
You may not be able to get away for hour-long strength-training sessions, and you need to squeeze the heart-pumping, sweat factor of your regular workout into a shorter package! I have created seven days of exercise for you to incorporate into your schedule even if you’re short on time. Each workout is ONLY 15 MINUTES – if you think about your typical morning, you can probably steal 15 minutes from idle moments, like waiting for coffee to brew or playing on your phone.
For today, I’m going to focus on the “cardio days.” Every few days, you should squeeze in a high-intensity interval workout to get your heart pumping. You can do this cardio workout on a bike, on the run, or even in your house as long as you have exercise shoes. The key is switching up the intensity of the workout minute by minute. The variations in effort will leave you feeling totally spent during those 15 minutes, but then you will feel energized for the rest of the day! Try it out!
Based on what you are using (bike, running, bodyweight, etc.), here are the ways to vary the intensity:
- Running – “High” is sprinting, “Low” is walking/jogging
- Biking – “High” is all-out pedaling or going uphill, “Low” flat or downhill easy pedaling
- Elliptical Machine or Stationary Bike – “High” is cranking up the resistance and/or increasing your speed, while “Low” is moderately easy resistance and speed
- In-Home (Do Anywhere) – “High” is a move called “High Knees,” in which you run in place but kick your knees up extremely high (higher than your waist, if you can) as fast as you can, while “Low” is resting/walking
Ready to start this waist-whittling, fat-burning, endorphin-boosting workout? Here is the sequence:
Cardio Day – High-Intensity Interval Training
- 3 minutes on low (warmup)
- 10 minutes of intervals (1 minute high followed by 1 minute low, repeated 5 times)
- 2 minutes of low (cool-down)
… It’s that simple. A 3-minute warmup followed by “one minute on, one minute off” intensity variation, followed by a two-minute cool-down. You can get fancier with intervals of course, and there are a thousand ways to do it, but this one is a no-brainer when you need to rev up your energy and well-being in a compressed amount of time.
Remember, the key to exercise is making an appointment with yourself as if you are making a plan with someone else. Would you cancel on your boss or on a loved one? Make the same commitment to yourself… and to your fitness. You will be glad you did!