While I may have been able to swing that in my former life (otherwise known as life before children and full-time employment), it just isn’t in the cards anymore. Spending that much at the gym would require me to give up other passions and pursuits, something I’m just not willing to do.
But that certainly doesn’t mean I can or should neglect working out completely. When I resumed exercising regularly after giving birth (which wasn’t until my son was about six months old), I did so with the mindset that a little bit of movement is always better than no movement at all.
To my surprise, I’ve managed to get into pretty decent shape with only intentionally exercising for 30 minutes a day.
Of course, I say that with this important caveat: To me, “pretty decent shape” doesn’t mean that I’m able to run a half-marathon in under two hours, the way I did a few years ago. My definition of “fit” currently doesn’t include triathlons or the ability to do fifteen pull-ups.
So what does that 30 minutes a day give me in terms of fitness?
The strength to hoist my almost-two-year-old around without being sore the next day.
The lung capacity to go for a family hike without huffing and puffing.
And the energy to end a busy day of working and mothering without totally collapsing.
I’ll take it!
Here’s how I’ve been making it work.
Four Strategies to Get Fit in 30 Minutes a Day Tweet this post!
Make Every Second Count
It wasn’t until I cut my workouts to a half hour that I realized how much exercise time I had previously been wasting. Sure, I used to be at the gym for an hour, but a lot of that time was spent getting set up at my treadmill, fiddling with my music, taking breaks at the water fountain, or even just phoning it in instead of giving it my all.
Now I make sure that I spend the entire time actually working out!
Double Up Strength Training and Cardio
My old routine used to consist of an intense cardiovascular sweat session followed by some pretty relaxed bicep curls. Now I’ve learned that when done with intensity—using tougher weights and moving between exercises and sets with less rest—strength training can also really get your heart pumping!
Similarly, lots of bootcamp-type moves that are considered aerobic at first glance can easily be tweaked into great muscle-buliders too—like adding push-ups to burpees or throwing in a set of jumping lunges.
Those kinds of double-duty moves are key for shaving minutes off your workout.
Try Interval Training
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is hugely popular right now. The term refers to any workout that alternates between quick bursts of intense exercise followed by fixed periods of decreased intensity. Research shows that interval training burns significantly more calories than exercising at a steady pace.
This is especially useful for the time-crunched crowd because the workouts are super fast and efficient.
I’ve replaced my usual steady jogs with sprinting intervals—alternating sprinting at maximum effort with slow jogging or walking—and it’s definitely helped me feel more fit in less time (and it’s less boring, too!).
Keep Active Throughout the Day
When I think of exercise, I tend to think of putting on a sports bra and getting all sweaty—both of which I’m only willing to do for a short amount of time each day.
Condensed workouts are working for me because I’m also making sure I don’t spend the rest of the day sitting on my bum. When I’m writing, I take lots of breaks for walking around and stretching. When I’m with my son, I try to kick the ball with him even when I’d rather just sit on the sidelines. Those minutes count, too!
Trading hours upon hours of exercise for a mere 30 minutes a day works well for me at this stage in life. Maybe someday I’ll put in the time and effort to train for another half marathon or dedicate myself to lots of push-ups and pull-ups.
But for now, I’ve found that these strategies allow me to keep my workouts brief and still feel fit and strong.
Do you think it’s possible to get fit in 30 minutes a day? Do you use any of these strategies for making short workouts more effective?
image via Rance Costa