All aboard the Workout Express!

We live in an urgent society in which the stakes to be successful professionally, to be admired socially and to be in good physical shape are always present. These goals DO NOT have to be mutually exclusive, as modern moms can have our proverbial cake and eat it too, especially when it comes to fitness! How? The key is to optimize the time that can be devoted to fitness-related activities.

Even just 20 minutes of exercise most days of the week is enough to improve your health and reduce your risk of illness. Thirty minutes will help you increase your fitness and stamina. Forty-five minutes or more will help you optimize fat loss. The first step is to believe that you are worth it and that a fit body is a sexy body.

In an effort to balance all the pieces of the pie we call life and, as they say, enjoy the ride, the following tips and tools that employ solid exercise principles will help Modern Mom load up on your workouts for more results in less time. :

o Combine upper and lower body exercises: Cut your strength routine in half by incorporating exercises for various parts of the body. For example, while performing a lunge, add a set of bicep curls to the movement.

o Choose compound exercises – Exercises that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously are more time efficient than isolation exercises, which target one major muscle group. Examples of compound exercises include leg press, squat, chest fly, walking lunge, and seated row.

o Circuit Train: With minimal equipment, you can set up stations alternating cardiovascular activities with strength training activities. This will keep your heart rate high so you can get the aerobic and anaerobic (strength) benefits. A sample circuit might include: jump rope, bicep curls, jumping jacks, push-ups, jogging in place, squats, mini trampoline, and jumping jacks. Repeating the circuit up to three times is guaranteed to boost your metabolism in less than 30 minutes.

o Interval Training: Using active work and rest ratios will allow you to exercise at the upper and lower levels of your fat burning zone and optimize calories expended. You can start by brisk walking for 2 minutes and jogging for 30 seconds. Then progress to 2 minutes of brisk walking and 1 minute of jogging. Over time, progress to two minutes each and ultimately to spending less time walking and more time jogging.

o Increase your intensity – By picking up the pace, you can cover more miles and ultimately burn more calories in less time. You may need to gradually increase to higher intensities, but you will become more efficient in the process and can reduce the length of your exercise sessions.

o Stock up on 30-minute workout videos – Watch the latest videos that suit all fitness levels, body part, and workout style. Four 30-minute videos a week could add up to 18 pounds burned in a year.

o Multitask – Use your time on the bike to catch up on professional literature, review notes for a presentation, or update your Palm Pilot. That will keep you up to date and save you time in the office.

o Schedule Your Next Gym Meeting – Today it’s not unusual to have a business meeting on the tennis court, racquetball, or golf course. It can be a welcome change for all parties involved, and you can exercise while getting paid.

o Pick up the pace – Increase your speed every time you get a chance to go to the grocery store or mow the lawn. Run errands, literally. Calories can add up significantly and keep your metabolism burning at a higher level throughout the day.

o Make it a lifestyle change: By cutting out some of life’s modern conveniences and getting more physical, you can burn off up to 800 extra calories a week. That can add up to 11 pounds lost at the end of a year. So start using the stairs, even if you work on the 10th floor, it will be easier. Park your car last and keep your sneakers close by at all times. You never know when the opportunity to go for a walk, hit the gym, or join the kids in the field will arise.

o Turn time wasters into time savers: contract muscle groups while queuing or driving, stretch at your desk, go for a walk on coffee breaks. Remember that three ten minute intervals are as good as one 30 minute session. When possible, exercise during lunch and then eat at your desk.

o Incorporate Mind-Body Exercises – Choosing a discipline like yoga or Pilates will not only give you the physical benefits of a well-toned body, but you’ll also enjoy relaxation and stress-relieving enhancements.

o Make time: schedule 30 minute workouts in your agenda 1 month in advance and keep that commitment the same way you would in any other meeting. Set your alarm, clock or palm light to go off when it’s time to exercise.

o Sex Counts: While I wouldn’t suggest replacing a formal exercise program with sex, it certainly burns calories. The fitter you are, the more enjoyable all activities will be, including sex.

o Exercise saves you time – the fitter you are, the less sleep you will need, so you can add more time to your day and have more energy for your daily tasks. Exercise could add longer and stronger years to your life, that time is priceless.

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