Dear Karen,

I know I should be exercising, but I have so little time. I work full time, and I have three busy kids. I don’t have time to go to the gym or spend an hour or more working out at home. What can I do?

Thanks,

Megan

Hi Megan,

I understand the frustration of not having time for yourself. My kids are all driving now, but I was in your position for many years!

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get a great workout. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is just as effective and much more time efficient. The term “high intensity” may sound intimidating but you don’t have to be a powerhouse to benefit from this form of exercise.

So what is HIIT, and why is it such a great workout?

During HIIT you give all-out effort for a short period of time, about 20-30 seconds, followed by an active rest period, usually about the same amount of time. These intense periods of exercise get your heart rate up and burn more calories in a shorter period of time. And, with HIIT, the calorie burn doesn’t end at the end of your exercise session. HIIT increases your metabolic rate (burning calories!) for up to 48 hours after you’re done. It also stresses your muscles and bones, increasing their strength and size. Give your body about 48 hours to recover between sessions.

HIIT can be done anywhere – at home, at the gym, at a park, in a hotel room or wherever you are. Equipment is not needed, and a HIIT workout takes about half an hour. And, giving all-out effort is different for everyone. Exercise is a progression and everyone has to start somewhere!

Here’s a sample program to try at home:

1. Warm up for 5-7 minutes. (You can do anything that gradually raises your heart rate.)

2. Squats for 30 seconds followed by a 30-second rest. Repeat four times.

3. Jumping jacks for 30 seconds followed by a 30-second rest. Repeat four times.

4. Push ups for 30 seconds followed by a 30-second rest. Repeat four times. (You can do these against a wall, counter, chair or with bent knees.)

5. Sit-ups for 30 seconds followed by a 30-second rest. Repeat four times.

6. Gradual cool down and stretch – 50 min.

Thirty minutes to a great workout, better health and feeling great! Contact me if you have any questions.

- Karen Marcouiller is an Eden Prairie-based certified personal trainer. (karenfitnessmn.com)

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