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April 2006

March 2006

30 Minute Workouts
When One Hour Is Too Much to Ask

30 Minute Workouts - When One Hour Is Too Much to Ask

OK, a show of hands please. How many of you made a New Year's resolution to get in shape and lose a little weight in the process? You're not alone. According to a recent study by the GNC nutrition store chain, 50% of those polled said that their resolution was to exercise more, with 38% stating that they needed to lose a few pounds.

Now, it's no secret how these resolutions turn out. Everyone tends to do well during the month of January; but by February, the majority of people have reverted back to their old ways. According to the same GNC study, only 20% actually stick with their plan for an entire year. So, if you're one of those people whose resolution is to get in shape, what are you going to do differently than before? Here's a suggestion. How about a shorter workout?

It's a common sense approach since most people don't have several hours in their day to dedicate to exercise. In fact, an hour may even be a stretch. One solution is to figure out different workout routines, options if you will, ranging anywhere from a half hour to 40 minutes. Here are a few suggestions to help get you moving in the right direction. (Please Note: Always be sure to check with your doctor prior to beginning a new exercise routine!)

The Walk/Run Combo (40 minutes)
Start off this routine with 5 minutes of stretching. Five minutes (when stretching) is longer than you think, so by the time you're done, you'll be ready to move your body. Next, it's on to the cardio portion of the workout. Some of you may like jogging, but it's not necessarily something everyone enjoys. If you identify with the latter, simply replace the running with either power-walking or a combination of walking and running.

The first step is to strap an old watch to your wrist. This way you know the exact amount of time that has elapsed. Head out for a run through your neighborhood, and, as soon as you hit the 15 minute mark, turn back. Like magic, you'll be home in a half hour. Spend an additional five minutes stretching, and you're done. The entire workout has only taken 40 minutes out of your day!

Once again, this technique works well for power-walkers and for interval running. Interval running is nothing more than alternating walking with running for specific amounts of time. Start with one minute of walking followed by one minute of running and so on, until you reach 30 minutes. As you get stronger, increase the amount of running time and decrease (if you wish) the amount of walking time.

Circuit Training (30 minutes + possible drive time to a gym)
This workout is great for anyone with a gym membership, as well as those who have decent weight equipment sitting around in their garage. Chances are both have gone unused because of the preconceived notion that gym workouts take several hours. Not true. Circuit training combines weight training with cardio by featuring lighter weights, more repetitions, and less time in between sets. Here's how it works:

Start by picking one exercise for each body part. For example, bench press for chest, military press for shoulders, curls for biceps, sit-ups for stomach, etc. Set them up in your desired order and that becomes your "circuit." Do one set of each exercise and without resting, continue on to the next exercise. Once you've completed the circuit, rest for 3 minutes and do it again. Concentrate on using lighter weights and keeping your repetitions in the 12 to 15 range. If you get through each circuit in 8 minutes, and you rest for 3 minutes in between, your total workout time is 30 minutes. Add a few minutes for stretching, and you're toned and ready to face the world.

Half Hour Workout Tapes and DVDs (30 minutes)
Exercise videos can be great if they are used properly. For starters, don't depend on these tapes as your only source for a workout, or you'll set yourself up for failure. The reason is that after several months, you'll be so bored with the repetition, you'll find ways to either lose them or break them!

DVD workouts are good for people who travel, people who are subjected to inclement weather, and as a back up for those days when you just don't feel like leaving the house. No matter what your favorite type of exercise is, you can find it on DVD. Yoga, Pilates, weight training, aerobics, and so on; they can all be found either at your local video store or online at a website like

Play a Sport (30 to 45 minutes)
Playing a little one-on-one basketball, swimming laps, or hitting a punching bag are amazing workouts. Don't be surprised at how quickly 30 minutes will pass when you combine your workout with some type of game or sport.

The downside to this type of workout, however, is it usually requires either another participant or specific equipment. Make sure you really like the sport before investing too much time, energy, or money into making it part of your regular workout.

The Anywhere Workout (10 to 30 minutes)
This is a good option for those days when you're extremely busy, stranded in a location where you can't utilize the aforementioned workouts, or if you're feeling slightly under the weather. Notice the word "sick" was never mentioned. Any physical activity when you're ill is never a good idea. But, there are going to be days when you're feeling, let's say, not your "normal self." Making an attempt to move your body on a day like this may make you feel better. Here's what to do:

Start by stretching for a full 10 minutes. This should be vigorous stretching where you hold each stretch for 20 seconds. After that, if you feel up to it, spend the next 10 minutes alternating sets of push-ups and various forms of sit-ups (classic sit-ups, crunches, twists, etc.). If you still have the time and energy, then do several intervals with a jump rope. This underrated cardiovascular exercise can travel anywhere, and it will work wonders on your calves.

You've just been given five examples of great 30 minute (or so) workouts. Use a little imagination and you'll undoubtedly come up with more. The most important thing you should take from this article is the notion that it's not necessarily important to pick just one workout. Utilize all of them. It's the best way to break up the drudgery that sets in after several weeks of working out religiously. If you mix up your routine, don't be surprised if you end up working out more. You may also find that it's easier to set aside a half hour of your day, every day, than it was to set aside two hours, three to four times a week.

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