When we were growing up, it seemed that notions about what types of exercise were good for us and how long to do them were very different from those of today. What we wanted was good health, not a six-pack, and our lifestyles were more active anyway. Kids weren’t scheduled to within an inch of their lives. Now, parents spend so much time in their cars taking children to dance and soccer practice it’s almost impossible to get enough exercise via daily routines.
Remember when we thought aerobic routines were the best thing we could do to stay fit and healthy? They took forever and required a lot of space, but with some creative furniture repositioning it was possible to do aerobics in the home and even to incorporate a step or some hand weights to make things even harder. An aerobic workout took up to an hour, involved the warm up and cool down sessions, and there was usually a bonus abdominal session as well. It’s no surprise that this form of exercise developed as video tapes and DVDs did too.
Then we discovered it was useful to be strong, not just to be flexible and have a healthy heart. In order to build bigger muscles, we had to lift weights, but free weights were fine. Then Pilates came along and our own body weight was an even better form of resistance. We didn’t move around a lot, but using the bigger muscles sometimes made us breathe hard. Combining repetitions with weights plus slow, small motions like leg lifts and squats was highly beneficial. If we went for a walk every day as well, that was sure to satisfy our needs.
As I said in the introduction, we are too busy for exercise, so fitness experts have stopped trying to sell what’s best and started looking at what is most practical in ten or twenty minutes each day. In so doing they started gathering statistics about something called interval training. Their discoveries have been an encouraging revelation. You really don’t need 45 minutes a day, lots of equipment, or a hot pink leotard and purple leg warmers to exercise effectively. You only require about 20 minutes daily.
Good Health in Less Time
Studies prove that a well organized mix of intense exercises performed over a short period of time is far more beneficial than a longer time spent completing less rigorous moves. The goal is to repeat kicks, punches, jumping jacks, sprinting on the spot, or whatever move is required as fast as you can in one minute or another short period of time before taking a tiny rest and progressing to the next exercise. Some programs utilize kettle balls and free weights. Others use body weight where planks, push-ups, burpees, and frog-jumps activate muscles enough on their own without additional props.
What you will find, however, is that these exercises really address cardio and muscle health without fully addressing the need to stretch. You will want to add on a few minutes either side to properly cool down and prevent injury by stretching. Make it a full yoga workout and ease away stress.