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Why Short Workouts Can Work for You

Physically Speaking
Not that you needed convincing, but let's say that we've convinced you more that exercise can help you psychologically. Now let's list a few of the physical reasons why you should work out:
  • Exercise encourages blood flow. Blood flow removes metabolic waste from tissues and provides fresh oxygen. When blood flow is restricted, metabolic waste builds up in the tissues and oxygen flow is restricted. Want to know what your muscles feel when this happens? Hold your breath for as long as you possibly can.

  • Exercise lubricates your joints. With decreased movement, the fluid surrounding your joints stops flowing. (Think Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz.) As we've said, movement encourages flow. Hence the stiff-legged, balky back gait you see from people walking down the aisle after a three-hour movie. Physiologically speaking, your joints are dry. Once you move, synovial fluid begins to flow again and it's easier for you to walk.

  • Exercise provides you with more energy. Movement increases blood flow, removing waste products and delivering oxygen. Exercise also stimulates the release of feel-good hormones known as endorphins.

  • Exercise makes you look good! Whoever invented the mirror probably knew that Homo sapiens are vain. Regular exercise is the best way we know to improve you appearance. Not only will you lose weight, your skin is apt to look better and your muscles will grow tauter. Know this: Feeling good about the way you look is highly contagious.

Yes, energy has both psychological and physical components. If you need to keep up with a boundless two-year old, there is no better way to do so than to get in a short workout or two during the day.

How Can 15, 30, or 60 Minutes Be Enough?
Why do short workouts make sense? Short workouts work for you when they fulfill the following two requirements:
  • Effective.
  • Efficient.
Still wed to the too-busy excuse? Let's say you only have 30 minutes between big meetings. Clear your head and strengthen your heart and legs by going for a brisk walk. Heading back to the office? A stair workout is probably one of the most effective and efficient exercises if you're on a tight schedule. And there are always trees to climb – though that may cause your coworkers to whisper behind your back.

Got 40 minutes? Walk for 25 minutes and then spend the next 10 minutes doing push-ups and crunches. Use the last five minutes to stretch. Just think of all the exercise possibilities you can do with an hour.

If your day is so busy that you're literally running from one meeting to the next, then consider the following:

  • Take the stairs.
  • Walk instead of taking a car or public transportation (you'll probably get there faster).
  • Ride your bike or jog to and from work.

When you integrate exercise into your life, the possibilities are endless.

The Least You Need to Know

  • You can find time for short workouts.

  • Exercise does wonders to alleviate stress.

  • Short workouts are the best way to maintain an exercise routine, especially if it's new.

  • Short workouts provide you with both psychological and physical benefits.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Short Workouts © 2001 by Deidre Johnson-Cane, Jonathan Cane, and Joe Glickman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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