Don't Sweat It: How to Get in Shape 10 Minutes at a Time

Easy does it!Easy does it!

We've been following along with Summer Sanders on espnW as she prepares to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon at the end of February. In her most recent post, she shares how important days of rest are in a exercise schedule. I'm in the middle of my own eight-week Fitness Challenge, working to lose the baby weight that's been hanging on since I had my third baby last June, as well as trying to get in running shape so I can train to run a half marathon this coming June.

I've found that committing to an exercise routine doesn't mean I have to do a strenuous workout for an hour every single day. I'm learning to be consistent on a daily basis, and to keep moving, even if just for a quick 10-minute workout. Even light exercise provides physical benefits, working your muscles while also boosting your metabolism for the rest of the day.

Related: 10 fat-burning exercises you can do anywhere

If we always waited until we had a good hour of time to workout, we probably wouldn't be working out all that often, would we? If we're trying to improve our fitness levels, lose weight, and make exercise a regular habit in our lives, it's more important to squeeze in a quick workout on a busy day then it is to skip exercising altogether because we feel like we don't have time to get a "full" workout in.

It's also important for our bodies to rest in between longer, more difficult workouts. Days of rest, or of shorter, less arduous exercise, are an important part of a balanced exercise schedule. On rest days, your body is working to physically repair itself. Your muscles actually break down during strenuous exercise, and your body needs time to repair them before engaging in another more difficult workout. And each time your body goes through this process you get stronger and able to handle even more strenuous exercise.

Even on busy days, you can fit in a quick workout that will help you feel better and stay on track with your fitness goals.

Here are 3 ways I squeeze in short workouts on busy days:

1. Put on my workout clothes.

If I put my workout clothes on when I wake up in the morning instead of throwing on jeans and sweatshirt to run my daughter to school, then I'm all ready to workout when my baby is napping and my son is miraculously playing quietly by himself. If I'm all ready to go then I can easily squeeze in a quick 10 or 20 minute workout.

2. Tell myself I am worth 10 minutes.

This motivating trick comes from Bethany from Fit2B, an online fitness studio. She says that there's no program that can force you to exercise, but if you can say to yourself, "10 minutes. I am worth 10 minutes." That will help you stay moving on a regular basis, even if it's just for a quick workout.

3. Set a timer.

When I know I need to workout, but I'm right in the middle of doing something, whether it's washing dishes or reading to the kids, I set a timer for the amount of time I want to spend finishing what I'm doing. When the timer goes off, it's a reminder to me that I need to workout, and then I set the timer again for just 10 or 15 minutes, and I know that when the timer goes off again, I'm done with my workout.

So, don't get down on yourself if you only have time for a quick workout. It is important to keep moving, to keep making exercise a priority, and a light workout is better than not working out at all. You can feel good about the fact that you're keeping up with your exercise habit, while also giving your body the rest it needs, so it can recover, and work even harder when you have time next strenuous workout.

How do you make quick workouts a part of your exercise routine?

- By Emily McClements
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