Start with getting active for 10 minutes a day
The number one reason I hear from people as to why they don't work out is that they don't have any time. This may be true if you are looking for an extra hour each day. Not many of us have the luxury of that sort of time, especially if you work, have small children or (like me) both.
Forget the idea that you need a whole hour (or even half an hour) to get a decent workout. I always say “Take what you can get". The reality is you can begin with only 10 minutes a day. You can actually achieve a great deal in that small window of time: a quick strength workout, some stretching and some great cardio with a skipping rope. Don't discount what even a little bit can do for you. 10 minutes a day probably won't help you reach your goals in a hurry, but it will get you on your way. Going from nothing to 10 minutes a day has to be an improvement, right?
Build from 10 to 20 to 30 minutes
Once you start squeezing in 10 minutes a day, you may find other little pockets of time you can use, and before you know it you're getting half an hour! I found especially after having kids, there was no way I could get a full-length workout in. It became a matter of finding some time when they were napping, or in that blissful window when they were actually engaged in an activity, or even when I woke up a few minutes before they did. I would take the kids to the beach with me and squeeze in a few minutes of sprints and crunches while they were playing with sand toys, then do my stretching while I helped them build sandcastles.
The other thing I found is that my kids will work out with me as long as it isn't for too long. Instead of having to find a time when the kids are busy, your quality time with your kids can actually be your exercise time! I get a great workout running as fast as I can to try to keep up with my daughter on her bike as we race around our park. She loves it and it's a challenge for both of us. With childhood obesity on the rise, and kids getting more and more attached to their PlayStation and computer games, it's really important to get them into the exercise habit from an early age.
Intensity vs. duration
I'm all about efficiency, and if I can get a great workout in 10 or 20 minutes why drag it out to 45? I actually believe (and research shows) that super long, slow repetitive activity is not the most efficient way to get the body you want. Shorter higher intensity workouts will burn more calories and improve your heart and lung function (enabling you to burn even more calories next time) without the repetitive strain on your body. If you are really out of shape, don't go over the top but you still need to challenge yourself. Remember you should be able to talk but not sing!
Aiming for shorter amounts of time will also help you feel successful. It's important to set long-range goals, but to get to those; we need more manageable action items. Break it down into something you really can achieve on a day-to-day basis. Those small successes fuel the fire to help you stick with your program.
It's time to lose the excuses. Let's prioritise here. What really needs to take up your time? Your family, your work… then what? How about your health and wellbeing? Surely that's worth squeezing in 10 minutes a day for!
Written by Sarah Straton