Looking for a Quick Way to Get Fit?

Looking for a Quick Way to Get Fit?

Looking for a Quick Way to Get Fit?

Lee esto en EspañolIf you’re looking to shake up your fitness routine, you have a lot of choices. If you want to raise your fitness level but don’t have a lot of time, a shorter, more efficient workout may be the answer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   says adults should regularly get aerobic activity and muscle strengthening. Aim for 150 minutes of exercise a week. You can break up those 150 minutes however works best for you.

What Works for You

Start by looking at your current fitness level. If you’re not already active, talk to your doctor before launching into a new workout plan. Some ways to move more, like adding more walking steps to your day or devoting time to stretch, are safe for many people. But exercise plans are not one-size-fits-all.

If you’re already active and shopping for something new, try micro-workouts. Shortened work out sessions can be very effective. And they’re a plus for those who don’t have a lot time to exercise.

Interval Training

One micro-workout is interval training. Aerobic interval training,   sometimes called high-intensity interval training (HIIT), started with elite athletes. But you don’t have to be an athlete to do it.

Interval training is alternating short bursts of intense activity with longer intervals of less intense activity. To start with, the higher intensity bursts should be about 30 seconds each, followed by regular intensity activity for about a minute or two. What types of activity you use for interval training depends on your fitness level and what you like to do.

It’s a way to burn more calories in a shorter time. It can also keep you from getting bored. Another plus: no new equipment needed. The idea can be incorporated into things you’re already doing. Try adding a bit of jogging to your normal walk or stepping up your pace regularly during a walk.

You can start adding intervals into your workout program a bit at a time, just one or two higher intensity intervals during each workout. As your fitness improves, you can challenge yourself with more intervals.

Work up to about 30 minutes total for your interval training workout. Be sure to warm up for about five minutes before you start adding interval bursts, and cool down for five minutes. A total of 10 to 15 minutes of your workout should be done at the higher intensity. For the rest of the time, including the warm up and cool down, activity should be done at a regular intensity level.

In addition to fitting a better workout into a shorter period of time, interval training can break you out of an exercise slump by adding something new.

If you have health issues or aren’t already exercising regularly, talk to your doctor before starting any kind of interval training.

Other Fitness Options

If you’re looking for more ideas to help change things up, try some of these.

Online Training: Easy to do at home, online training can be done by yourself or with a group. It can include one-on-one training with a teacher.

Wearables: Stay motivated and on track with a smart watch or fitness tracker. They can help you watch your heart rate and track your time spent being active, sedentary or sleeping.

Body Weight Training: Weight training using your body weight is a back-to-basics plan that can be cheap because it uses little equipment.

Organized Outdoor Activities: Group walks, bike rides, hikes — the sky’s the limit with outdoor activity. And working out as part of a group can help you stay motivated and have more fun.

Strength Training with Free Weights: Training with free weights can be done solo or with a buddy or group at a gym, at home or even outside. It’s a good idea to get started with a trainer to show you proper form.

Fitness Programs for Older Adults: More fitness programs are available for Baby Boomers and others eager to stay active.

What Should You Eat Before and After Working Out?

What you eat matters when it comes to starting or ending a workout right. It’s like fueling a car. Find out what to eat and when to fuel yourself up for working out.

Sources: How much physical activity do adults need?, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022; Interval training for heart health, leaving site icon Mayo Clinic, 2023; Interval training: More workout in less time (and you can do it), leaving site icon Harvard Medical School, 2018

Originally published 3/29/2021; Revised 2024