Fitting in your Fitness

December can be a month where time gets even more crunched. Social and family gatherings get scheduled, the days are short on light, and the end of another year with projects that must be completed by the end of the month often eat into people’s exercise programs. “Normal” is rarely the case. So if you find yourself juggling commitments and cutting out time to move your body, here are a few tips to be able to at least hold your fitness through the month until the New Year comes.

First, for your aerobic exercise like swimming, jogging, or cross country skiing, the minimum to keep your fat burning engine in one piece is about 20-minutes in your training zones. Even if you have a longer workout planned, if time necessitates cutting back a workout, try to get your heart rate up for a 20-minute stretch. This will prevent a loss of aerobic fitness for quite some time, so that you don’t lose your hard earned gains. It may not take you to the next level, but at least when your schedule calms back down, you will be in close to the same physiological shape you are in now.

Second, strength training is key to maintaining the integrity of not only muscles, but joints, ligaments and tendons. You can modify this as well to fit a tighter schedule by doing, as a minimum, one set on all of the five following exercises:

• Lat pulldown
• Leg Extension
• Leg Curl
• Bench Press
• Squats

This works the bulk of the main big muscles in the body with a minimum of time in the gym. It helps to also maintain your lean muscle mass, which helps keep your metabolism humming along during a season where it can be easy to overeat and under-exercise. You can then always finish with abdominal work if you have time.

Third, use our tip from last month, which is to always have a bag of exercise clothing with you in your car or backpack so that if a chunk of time does open up unexpectedly you can take advantage of it and fit in a workout.a