Whatever your excuse is for skipping exercise, one of these plans will get you moving.
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I Have No Time
Feel like you don't ever have time for a proper workout? Robert Kram, personal-training manager at the Reebok Sports Club in New York City offers these solutions.
Take more brisk walking breaks during the workday.
Do belly braces throughout the day. Draw in your navel as close to your spine as you can without holding your breath and hold until you can’t anymore. You can do this anytime and anyplace―while waiting in line, driving, or sitting in a meeting. This simple move will help strengthen your abs, improve your posture, and flatten your stomach.
Add a 10-minute strengthening routine in the morning. In the course of a few months, you should build up to 15 minutes, then 20. These exercises will help you feel and look more toned (see The Strength-Training Routine, on the next slide).
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Strength-Training Routine 1
Strapped for time? Aim for 10 to 20 minutes every day, doing two complete sets, with 10 reps of each exercise.
Arm circles: With arms out to the side, make dinner plate-size circles with your fists. Do 10 in each direction and repeat.
Simple squats: Place your hands behind your head. With feet shoulder-width apart, lower yourself as if about to sit in a chair. Do two sets of 10 repetitions.
Knee push-ups: Lie on your stomach, hands under your shoulders, knees bent, and feet together. Push up, then lie back down. Do two sets of 10 repetitions.
Reverse crunches: Lie on your back, knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Place your hands behind your head and bring your knees toward your face while exhaling. Do two sets of 10 repetitions.
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I Hate to Exercise
You can't swallow a magic pill to make you love exercising―but you can find ways to incorporate it into your daily life. If you are not used to exercising, start slowly. Melanie Webb, personal trainer at Sports Club L.A. in Washington, D.C., offers these suggestions.
Take two brisk 10-minute walks on your busiest days.
Walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes once a week, twice a week if possible.
Do a 15-minute resistance-training routine twice a week to strengthen the core muscles and help reduce back pain and improve posture (see The Strength-Training Routine, next slide).
Make an exercise date with a friend or your spouse twice a month―hiking, playing tennis, bowling, or biking, complete with a backup plan in case of bad weather.
Replace your office chair with a stability ball, which will require you to engage and strengthen your abdominal, gluteal, and lower-back muscles.
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Strength-Training Routine 2
Aim for 15 minutes twice a week.
Transverse-abs activation: Lie flat on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Contract your abdominals and visualize pulling your navel in toward your spine. Repeat up to 30 times.
Pelvic bridges: Lie flat on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and abdominals engaged. Pushing down into the floor with your feet, lift your pelvis while contracting your glutes until your body forms a straight line, like a bridge. Repeat up to 30 times.
Ball squats: Stand against a wall with a stability ball that fits comfortably between the small of your back and the wall. Position your feet hip-width apart and walk them out away from the wall, as if you’re sitting down. Keep constant pressure against the ball with your back. Lower your body until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Contract your glutes as you push through your heels and return to a standing position. Repeat 15 to 20 times.
Ball push-ups: Lie down with your stomach on top of a medium-size stability ball and walk your hands out to a push-up position with your lower body supported by the ball. Gently bend at the elbows, lowering your upper body toward the floor. Keep your abdominals and glutes engaged. Push up against the floor to bring your body back to a neutral position. Repeat up to 15 times.
Ball crunches: Lie on a stability ball large enough so your head doesn’t touch the ground, with the small of your back on the middle of the ball, feet flat on the floor. Cross your arms over your chest and, without moving your hips or legs, engage your abs to slowly lift your upper body off the ball. Repeat up to 15 times (or until fatigued).
Hamstring stretches: At the end of the workout, lie on your back and lift one leg up toward the ceiling. Gently pull the leg toward you, with your arms behind your thigh until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstring. Hold for 10 seconds, then switch legs. Repeat three times.
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I Have a New Baby
Try a routine based on activities you enjoy―like walking and basketball. Even better, look for an activity that can include your child. Angela Corcoran, personal trainer at Equinox Fitness in New York City, offers these suggestions.
Add 15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise. You can run up and down the stairs or dance in the living room while the baby is napping or watching from a bouncy seat.
Walk 10,000 steps. You can do this by taking the baby for longer walks in a front carrier or stroller and by going on short strolls with the whole family in the evening.
Do 45 minutes of strengthening exercises at home to tighten your muscles, especially your abs, and help you get back to your prebaby shape (see The Strength-Training Routine, on the next slide).
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Strength-Training Routine 3
Aim for 45 minutes on most days.
Baby nose-touch presses: Lie on your back, knees bent, with your baby lying on your stomach facing you. Bend your elbows and place your hands under the baby's armpits. Fully extend your arms (both shoulders and elbows) so that his face is in line with yours; lower. Repeat 10 times (upper limit should be 15 reps). Do three sets with 30 to 45 seconds of rest in between.
Baby squats: Squat down with your feet flat on the floor and the baby sitting in front of you. Hold the baby under his armpits with your arms slightly bent, then stand up. Lower back down to a squat. Repeat 10 to 15 times for three sets.
Baby knee extensions: Sitting on the edge of a chair, put your shins under the baby's armpits. Lift your feet (and the baby) off the ground and straighten your legs without locking your knees. Repeat 10 to 15 times. Do three sets with 30 to 45 seconds of rest in between.
Back extensions ("Supermans"): Lie facedown on the floor, arms out in front of you. Keep your legs on ground, then lift your arms, shoulders, and head as high off the ground as possible, like Superman flying. Keep your head and neck in line with your arms as you raise up off the ground. For this exercise, the baby can watch. Repeat 10 to 15 times for three sets.
Baby wall squats: Stand with your back against a wall, holding the baby with your arms straight and hands under the baby's armpits. Keeping your back against the wall, lower slowly into a sitting position, then straighten to a standing one. Repeat 10 to 15 times for three sets.
Baby sit-ups: Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor, with the baby sitting on your stomach. Looking at the baby, place your hands behind your head with your elbows out to the side. Curl your upper body off the floor as far as you can without letting your feet come off the ground (do not hook your feet on anything). Repeat 10 to 15 times for three sets.
Baby triceps extensions: Lie on your back with your legs straight and the baby sitting up on your chest. Hold the baby under his armpits and lift so that he's in the air, your arms are straight, and you're eye to eye (a similar position to the baby nose-touch press). Do not move your shoulders, but bend at the elbows as you lower his nose to yours. Do as many as you can with the weight of the baby. Repeat 10 to 15 times for three sets.
Baby leg lifts: Lying on the floor with your legs straight and the baby reclining on top of your thighs, lift your feet about one foot off the floor (or as far as you can). Lower your legs back down. Be sure to keep your lower back on the floor. Repeat 10 to 15 times for three sets.