The No-Excuses Guide to Exercise

10 simple workouts that actually fit your schedule.

For many moms, spending an hour at the gym is luxury they don't have time for. Without 60 minutes to spare, some opt to skip working out altogether. But the truth is, working out doesn't have to be all or nothing. Although you may not have time for one of those epic runs your friends brag about on Twitter, all movement matters. "Every minute does count, especially as a busy mom," says Erin Kreitz Shirey, owner of Power Fitness PDX and a certified personal trainer. If you take five minutes to exercise you'll do more for your muscles than if you skipped working out altogether, Kreitz Shirey says. Whether you've got five, 20, or 45 minutes, we've got the plan to help you burn calories and get your body moving.

How to Do Crunches
How to Do Crunches

5 MINUTES

weight lifting

Take a Dip
Do triceps dips in the pool while watching the kids play in the shallow end. Do three sets of 10 triceps dips every time you're in the water to start seeing toned arms. Using the gym's indoor pool is a great way for the whole family to stay active no matter the season. Bonus: Water reduces the resistance, making it easier to do more. Keep your core engaged and glutes contracted throughout the exercise to double the impact.

Soup and Squats
Use this full body strength training workout in the kitchen while dinner cooks. Strengthen your lower body and quads by doing basic squats. Keep your shoulders rolled back with your core engaged and feet set wider than shoulder width apart. Your knees should align with the second toe. Then, squat as if you are sitting in a chair and lower until your quads are parallel with floor. Finish by returning to a standing position. At the same time, hold soup cans in each hand and do curls to work your biceps and upper body. Keep your arms extended in front of you at shoulder height to work your lower back and core muscles, Kreitz Shirey says. Use a timer to complete squats for 30 seconds or do two to four sets of 10 to 20 reps.

 

10 MINUTES

90 in 10
Pick three moves that work different areas of the body--think lunges, push-ups, crunches. Do 10 repetitions of each exercise, repeating three times, says Holly Perkins, a certified strength and conditioning expert. "It doesn't have to be complicated," she says. "You can't talk yourself out of three sets of ten."

Tabata Intervals
Kreitz Shirey recommends this type of high-intensity interval training, founded in Japan, because the workouts last exactly ten minutes and are very effective. To get started, use a Tabata app or choose exercises that use multiple muscle groups, such as burpees, jumping jacks, speed skaters, and jump squats. The rotation works like this: Warm up by walking or jogging in place for one minute. Then do 20 seconds of intense movement to elevate your heart rate (like burpees or speed skaters). Use the next 10 seconds for active rest (like jumping jacks or push-ups). Repeat these steps eight times in four minutes, then do a second round. Finally, cool down for one minute by marching in place. Kreitz Shirey says this routine burns more calories than going for a 10-minute speed-walk.

15 MINUTES

Zen Out
"When you take 15 minutes to practice meditative yoga, you can minimize pain and stress and give yourself the flexibility and motivation to tackle other daily tasks," Kreitz Shirey says. Between meetings, when you wake up, or just before you go to sleep are perfects times to close your eyes and breathe deep. If time and space allow, try a few restorative yoga moves as well, using the iYoga smartphone app as a coach. Closed-eye deep breathing combined with downward dog, cat and cow poses, and a final savasana will do you a world of good.

Spin Out
Grab your bike and speed through 15 minutes outside. Cycling elevates your heart rate and works the entire body. Bonus: Because biking is an intense form of cardio, it boosts your metabolism and keeps burning calories even after you're off the bike, Perkins says. Break up your day with a quick ride or get two trips a day by commuting on two wheels.

20 MINUTES

Jog for Two
Tuck the baby in a jogging stroller for a quick 20-minute run anytime your schedule allows. The addition of the stroller adds strength training to the cardio workout. "The combination of strength and cardio burns 10 percent more calories than running solo," says Kreitz Shirey. Bonus: This workout increases your overall strength and stamina.

Play Ball
If you don't want to get too sweaty, grab the kids and play a game of HORSE on the basketball court. Another great option, kick around a soccer ball or play catch with your kids for 20 minutes. Plus, you'll help your crew burn off their endless energy while spending quality time together. Everyone wins.

 

30 MINUTES

Walk and Jog
Instead of sitting in your car or a lawn chair at sports practice, squeeze in a half hour of interval training. Warm up with a five-minute walk, run for one to two minutes, then walk for three to four minutes; repeat three times to torch calories. "Anytime you're picking up the intensity and then recovering, you're going to burn more calories per session," Perkins says. You can also turn this quick exercise in to a total body workout by including six different stops for 10 reps of push-ups, pull-ups, triceps dips, and similar body strength activities after each walk-jog repetition.

45 MINUTES

Turn on the TV
When you can't get to the gym, a workout DVD can help you maximize the time you have. Both Perkins and Kreitz Shirey recommend using this convenient fitness tool to satisfy any experience level. The options are endless, with some very effective titles coming from The Biggest Loser Workout DVD series, Booty Barre with Tracey Mallett, and Perkins's own Slim Sexy Strong. Perkins points out that fitness videos are a great way to experiment with different workouts to see which is right for you.

Copyright © 2013 Meredith Corporation.

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