Try 10-minute mini-workouts during hectic times.
During busy times of the year, such as the hectic holiday season or when you’re facing important deadlines at work, you’ll often be tempted to skip your regular workout. Try squeezing in “mini-workouts” instead. If it’s hard to find 30 minutes or more for exercise, try working in just 10 minutes at a time throughout your day. For example, in the morning try 10 minutes of stretching and calisthenics (e.g., push-ups, knee bends, jumping jacks, and sit-ups), then a brisk 10-minute walk at lunch, and 10 minutes of resistance exercises in the evening. Just that little bit will help you stay on track and avoid feeling discouraged about your exercise program.
ACE Chief Science Officer
Wear a heart rate monitor.
I live by the rule “never more than 2 days in a row without a workout”. Since I travel all the time, it’s a game that I play with myself and it keeps me consistent. I also wear a heart rate monitor religiously. I love to know the zones I’m training in, the number of calories I’ve burned and the amount of time I have been exercising. Try it out and you’ll often find the feedback to be motivating. At the end of the week you’ll see your total accomplishment and it’s very self-satisfying and can help to push you to change it up from week to week and work towards different training goals.
ACE Board of Directors Member & ACE Spokesperson
Set realistic goals early in the year and plan for setbacks, but enjoy every step.
Be realistic about your exercise goals. Set your goals early in the year and then work toward them, always staying focused on the end goal, even if life sets you back. Most triathletes plan their entire year out in January. I signed up for four long-distance triathlon races for 2010 in December of 2009, knowing how much time I’m willing and able to devote to my training while working a full-time job and trying to make time for my friends. Recognize that there will be setbacks in your training, but listen to your body. Enjoy every step of the way toward your goal. Celebrate the highs, fight through the lows, and make a lot of friends along the way.
ACE Managing Editor
Supplement your exercise program with at-home DVDs.
Giving yourself lots of options will help you be successful with your workout program, and keep you enjoying it. I love outdoor walking (especially here in San Diego) but what I’ve found to be really useful is having a variety of exercise DVDs that I can do at home, at work, while traveling or if the weather is bad. So I don’t get bored, I have several DVDs ranging from low-impact and high cardio to yoga. Exercise DVDs are often simple to follow, especially for beginner or intermediate exercisers, and since they run typically from 45-60 minutes each, they’re easy to fit into your schedule especially when you may not be able to leave home to make it to a gym.
ACE Production Manager
Make exercise a priority in your schedule.
Ever wonder how you will find time to exercise? You are not alone. Take it from one fitness professional who is always trying to fit exercise into a busy schedule filled with work, travel and quality time with family. The best way to make time for exercise is to put it into your schedule along with all of your meetings, family outings, social events and trips. Each weekend, look at your schedule for the upcoming week and schedule your workouts on the days when you know you will have time to fit them in. Then, when the reminder pops up on your computer or PDA, treat it like a meeting … a meeting between your mind and your body!
ACE Certification & Exam Development Manager
Add variety – whenever you can.
To keep yourself motivated with your workouts, just try adding variety. Do a traditional gym workout lifting weights, then next time go for a hike up a local mountain, try surfing, take a Yoga class, or run on the beach. Variety is the key for my workouts to stay interesting and fun so I make it a way of life. Also, by doing a variety of activities you’re more likely to work many different muscles, which will improve your overall fitness level.
ACE Education & Certification Consultant
Plan ahead for workouts on the road.
My job requires that I spend a lot of time traveling. To stay on top of my exercise program, I have to work in exercise while on the road. I find that planning ahead is critical, or else it’s too easy to slip in my fitness routine. Before booking hotels, do a little research by checking their website to make sure they have low or no-cost fitness facilities. Or, if you’re lucky enough to be traveling to a warm weather climate, always pack your sneakers and work in frequent walks before or after meetings. Doing so will keep you fit and feeling good, and helps with jet lag too.
ACE President & Chief Executive Officer
Mix up your fitness routine with metabolic workouts.
While circuits are an effective training modality that achieves both cardiorespiratory and resistance benefits, there are numerous variations that you can employ to achieve the same effect. Metabolic workouts have recently grown in popularity given the numerous benefits they produce. For resistance training, you can try shifting away from the traditional mode of short bouts of work (sets) followed by 2-3x that duration in recovery. Instead, your goal now is to perform lower intensities of work, but with more volume using exercises and movement patterns that incorporate the entire body, and use very short rest intervals (as short as possible without compromise to exercise technique and safety). You can also step away from the machines and grab medicine balls, kettlebells or even dumbbells to change things up. Try to perform many multi-joint movements (e.g., deadlifts, hip swings, squats, push-press.) or hybrid exercises (a sequence of continuous exercises strung together – push-up, deadlift, biceps curl, shoulder press 10x), then take a rest short interval. The idea is to integrate the entire body into movement with lighter resistance, but utilizing shorter rest intervals, stressing both the aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways in the interim.
ACE Exercise Physiologist
Surround yourself with fitness-minded people.
Put yourself in environments and situations that promote health and fitness; avoid the alternative wherever possible. Just think of how much time you spend at work. If you have co-workers who eat at fast food restaurants every day, it’s going to be difficult for you to make healthy lunch choices. Instead, seek out fellow employees who are living an active and fit lifestyle as it will make it easier for you to do the same. Also find friends who are interested in fitness and be there for each other. Besides serving as workout buddies for motivational purposes, you can help each other stay on track by being creative. I had a group of girlfriends that would report to the group via email each day with what they did for their workout. This quick and simple tactic motivated the person by sharing their accomplishments but it also held the others accountable to stick to their workout, knowing they’d have to report back each day.
ACE Tradeshow Coordinator
Try something new.
I run and swim consistently, but recently injured my knee. While waiting to heal, I thought about reducing running and taking up other non-exercise related interests. But instead, I have shifted to doing more total body workouts to improve my overall strength. I have added a number of metabolic circuits that include both machines and calisthenics and have stayed fit without running. I have discovered using the bands for both resistance and assistance has resulted in better form and results. So, try something new. You might discover it’s not only a breath of fresh air for you personally, but your body will reap the benefits as well!
ACE National Commercial Accounts Manager
Experiment with “pyramid” intervals for your cardio routine.
I incorporate a lot of intervals into my cardio routines to keep them interesting. I like to do pyramids on a step mill where I start out slow for a minute, and every minute build up until I become fatigued, then go down a level each minute until I’m back to my beginning speed. On the treadmill I do the same pyramid but add a slow jog every other minute to allow me to catch my breath. Doing it this way, you’ll be challenged and motivated as when you’re past the halfway point, you know the hardest part is over.
ACE Program Coordinator
Just do it.
Plain and simple: “Stop thinking about it and just do it” like Nike says. Don’t delay as something is better than nothing. Instead, just get up and get moving. It sounds very simple but it is an effective and easy way to push yourself. You can always perfect things as you go, but without doing it at all, you won’t get anywhere so I’ve found this to really work for me.
ACE Strategic Development Director
Change your exercise program with the seasons.
Getting bored with your workout? It’s good to occasionally change up your fitness routine to prevent boredom and challenge your muscles. I find it useful to alter my exercise routine with the change of every season. It’s easy to remember and doing so keeps things interesting and challenging, and helps to motivate me with my workouts. For example, now that we're in to winter I'm focusing on developing my aerobic endurance and improving the endurance strength of my muscles, that way when the weather warms up and I can go mountain biking outside, I'll have a strong aerobic base to build on. Once spring gets here, I'll change the intensity and begin doing anaerobic intervals to improve my tolerance for training at the anaerobic threshold. As a beginner exerciser, you could do something like set a goal for a specific distance that you would like to be able to walk, cycle or run.
ACE Exercise Physiologist
Only eat when you’re hungry.
The "rule" I try to live by is pretty simple, but if followed, all foods fit into a healthy diet and no weight is gained. My rule is that I only eat when I'm hungry and I stop eating when I'm full. Try doing this and you will eliminate all of the extra calories that come from emotional and mindless eating. The body is actually remarkably good at regulating caloric intake, if only we would listen to it!
Natalie Digate Muth
ACE Spokesperson & Registered Dietician
Keep a fitness journal.
Each night before you hit the sack, try writing down your fitness activities you performed for the day. Doing so will help you realize even the small accomplishments that you may not have realized, especially during busy days where you may not have had time to fit in your regular workout. It will also help motivate you during the times that you’ve been a couch potato and have nothing to write. When you’ve had major victories reaching your fitness goals, documenting them not only serves as a way to celebrate what you’ve done but a reminder and motivator for future goals so they become more than just wishful thinking.
ACE Marketing Manager
Move away from the all or nothing mentality.
When it comes to working out our intention is to always give 100% yet sometimes things happen during our day (stuck late at work, caught in traffic, appointments, etc) that can interfere with our plans. On days when devoting an hour to working out might not be possible, avoid the urge to simply skip working out all together and instead condense your workout session (example- set up a 20-30 minute circuit that blends strength training exercises with brief cardio intervals) or try to find ways to integrate small bouts of activity throughout your day (climb the stairs at work for 5-10 minutes, take a 10-15 minute walk around the block with your family when you get home, wind down from a hectic day with some simple yoga poses and stretches in the evening- these are just some examples of ways to make your day more active without having to complete restructure your entire schedule).
This same principle applies to eating as well. If you happen to splurge at one meal (example- the office orders pizza for lunch or you go out to dinner and opt to order your favorite dessert) avoid the temptation to simply consider the whole day a wash and just eat whatever you want (and however much of it you want). Instead, acknowledge the food that you have enjoyed and make a conscious effort to make healthier food choices for the remainder of the day.
ACE Continuing Education Coordinator
So what’s one of your best kept secrets for staying fit? Share with us by rating the article and providing your comments below.