Weekly fitness guidelines can seem like a laundry list of to-do’s that you just can’t get done — 30 minutes of cardio at least five days, resistance training two or three days, and at least two flexibility sessions … each and every week.
Yet each type of exercise does the body good, so it’s important to find ways to meet these goals.
First, recognize that an exercise program will mean changes to your daily routine, and you’ll likely need to cut out other, less important activities. Aim for a gradual transition and look for non-essential pastimes to replace, like watching TV and web surfing.
Next, draw up a realistic schedule that works with your lifestyle and, for a better chance of sticking to it, write it down. Realize that, if you have a family that expects you home at 6 p.m. for dinner, hitting the gym after work won’t work for you. Instead block out 30 minutes after the kids go to bed or get up 30 minutes early and get in a workout while the house is still quiet. And you might double up on workouts on those days you do get to the gym by taking both cardio and flexibility classes.
Make exercise convenient. Maybe the gym near your home makes more sense than the one near your office. If you spend a lot of time just hanging out when your kids are at soccer or lacrosse practice, look for a nearby nature trail or track and spend your waiting time moving instead.
If you’ll be working out at home, create a designated exercise space and outfit it with essentials, like a mat, free weights and DVDs you can pop into a laptop.
And don’t forget to plan weekend family outings that involve walking or other exercise — no one said you can’t have fun and togetherness while getting fit.
The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women has quick and easy exercise ideas that can fit into any schedule.