How do fit people stay in shape when life gets hectic? Inevitably there are times for all of us when life intervenes with our normal fitness routines, and with the holidays approaching we know we are heading into a "danger zone." Having a back-up plan for these times means the difference between keeping your edge and losing it.
There are two different approaches: You can perform shorter duration, structured sessions to maintain your present level of conditioning or you can take a break from your normal routine and incorporate a baseline of activity into every day. The first strategy relates to preserving the physiological benefits of your cardio and strength training, and the second to taking an "active rest" from your full program.
You can easily maintain your current fitness level with brief exercise sessions. For cardiovascular conditioning, you need to do a minimum of three 20 minute workouts in your individual heart rate training range. Allow for 30 minutes total to include five minutes each for a warm up and cool-down. For strength training, you need a minimum of two full-body sessions per week, doing ten exercises for the major muscle groups (hips and thighs, back, chest, shoulders, arms and abdominals). One set of each exercise, 8-12 repetitions per set, is enough to maintain your strength level. You can keep your muscles flexible if you incorporate stretching after each cardio and strength training workout.
If you chose to take an "active rest", then focus on "activity" as opposed to "workouts". Try to accumulate 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most (at least 5) days of the week. Studies show that exercise accumulated in short bouts of 10 or 15-minutes offers weight loss and aerobic fitness benefits comparable to those achieved in longer workouts. Do 1-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions of body weight exercises like push ups, squats and crunches every other day for your muscle work and spend a few minutes stretching in the morning, at your desk and/or before bed.
This provides a foundation of fitness for you to build upon when you return to your normal routine.
Develop a mind-set now to keep your edge during the holidays and emerge from the end of the year festivities feeling – and looking – your best. To avoid a major overhaul in the New Year, commit to maintaining a baseline of activity and a reasonable diet. Take each day as it comes, navigate the "danger zones" and be consistent.
Joan Pagano, former trainer to Jacqueline Onassis and Caroline Kennedy, is a best-selling author, a speaker on health and fitness topics and the owner of Joan Pagano Fitness in New York City.
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Tags: aerobic fitness body weight exercises heart rate training major muscle groups minute workouts
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