The excuse: “I don’t have time.”
The workout: Speedy circuit training.
An especially efficient use of exercise time is alternating short bursts of high-intensity cardio activity with strength moves—a one-two punch known as circuit training. “The combination burns tons of calories and even helps speed up resting metabolism,” says Valerie Waters, a trainer in Los Angeles. You can do this in 30 minutes at the gym or “by taking advantage of the equipment at a playground,” says Johanna Subotovsky, an exercise physiologist for Equinox Fitness in New York City. Start with a five-minute warm-up (a fast walk that turns into a jog), then do sets of squat thrusts, push-ups, and monkey-bar reverse pull-ups (start with your feet on the ground, pull your body up, and hold for as long as you can). Next, take a two-minute fast run followed by a two-minute rest. Repeat the whole sequence three more times.
The excuse: “I’m way too tired.”
The workout: Flow yoga.
A practice that starts slowly, such as Vinyasa (often called flow) yoga, wakes your body gently and takes the dread out of getting to a class. After a few minutes, your heart starts pumping, your brain fog clears, and your energy rises. But don’t let the gentleness fool you: This is serious muscle-strengthening exercise. Your own body serves as the resistance, and you’ll see real results. If you don’t have access to a yoga studio, you can stream yoga classes on your computer at yogaglo.com ($18 a month); download Yoga Stretch and Yoga Relax from iTunes (99 cents each), among other yoga apps; or try a DVD, such as Exhale Core Fusion Yoga Energy Flow ($17, amazon.com).
The excuse: “Exercise is so boooring.”
The workout: Dance classes.
Because it’s fun and mentally engaging, dance doesn’t necessarily feel like exercise, “but it gets your heart rate up and engages your big muscle groups,” says Subotovsky. Zumba, a blend of Latin styles, is available at many gyms and is good for increasing flexibility and stamina. And you can find adult beginner ballet classes at local dance studios. There’s nothing like it for toning the legs, rear, and abdominals.
The excuse: “I don’t have any discipline.”
The workout: A walk or run for charity.
If health and vanity aren’t sufficient motivators, bring cause and commitment into play. To find events in your area, log on to active.com. Raising money and awareness for a cause you care about puts purpose in your stride. Or consider training with a partner, whether it’s a friend or someone you find through a social-networking site (such as meetup.com) that pairs people with like interests. “Once you’re accountable to someone else, you’re far less likely to go AWOL,” says Subotovsky.