As the holiday season draws near, I'm reminded of how incredibly challenging it is to maintain our workouts (never mind our diets) amidst after-work parties and family functions. This time of year, making time for exercise is about as likely as crafting thoughtful homemade gifts for everyone on your list.
All procrastination aside, sometimes fitting in a workout is just not feasible. But rather than give up all together until after January 1st, consider the alternative: you can get just as much out of a 30-minute workout as many people get in 90 minutes at the gym. The trick is to work out smarter.
Two or three times a week, carve out a half hour of "me" time, whether at home or at the health club. Then don't stop moving. Choose 6-8 exercises, twto of which are cardiovascularly inclined, like jumping rope or stepping up and down on a bench. The rest should be large-muscle-group moves (focused on the back, chest, core, glutes, and quads) that require full-body movements (think lunges, push-ups, squats, and plank holds). Do each exercise 2-3 times---circuit-style is ideal---with 30-60-second rests in between moves.
And don't forget to challenge yourself. Those 3-lb-dumbbell workouts frequently featured in women's health mags are often for beginners. Choose exercises that are the appropriate intensity for you, and ramp up the difficulty by shortening the rest between exercises a little each week.
That's it---you've got yourself a workout. Whether you make it happen is up to you.