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Fitting Exercise into Your Schedule

For Early Birds Only
There's an old expression that goes something like: "An hour in the morning is worth two in the evening." In other words, working out in the morning is a great time to exercise – assuming you're able to wake up and get out the door. It's quiet, there's less traffic if you ride your bike or drive to the gym, and it's a great way to organize your thoughts for the day ahead. After a good workout and shower, you're bound to head to work feeling energized and virtuous at the same time. That way, no matter how busy you get later in the day, your workout is in the books. If the morning seems like a good time slot for you, consider the following to make it easier.

When Deidre was winning national power-lifting championships, she was also a full-time student in physical therapy school and working a part-time job. Needless to say, she was pressed for time and had no choice but to work out in the wee hours of the morning. Here are her early morning workout tips.

  1. Listen to the weather forecast and lay out your clothes for both work and working out the night before. That way you won't have to rush around looking for your favorite shorts and matching socks.
  2. If you take your lunch to work, make it the night before. Don't forget to take it out of the fridge when you leave in the morning.
  3. Lose the snooze button. One wake-up call is all you get.
  4. A coffeemaker with a timer is often a good get-out-of-bed incentive.
  5. Put your feet on the floor before your mate smashes the alarm clock or sabotages your incentive to stick to your exercise program.
If you live within walking/jogging distance from work, a great way to commute and work out at the same time is to hoof it to work. Jonathan, who loves cycling far more than running, often jogs to work with his work clothes in a backpack a few times a week instead of taking the subway. (He dislikes crowded subways more than he does running.)

Considering that the ride on the train takes only five minutes more than the run, the time commitment is virtually the same. If you don't have the luxury of working in shorts and a T-shirt like Jonathan, you can carry a week's worth of work clothes in a garment bag every Monday and change at the office. Of course, without access to a shower you're bound to alienate even the most tolerant of your co-workers.

Another good idea assuming that you belong to a gym near your job is to run to the gym in the morning. If you have extra time, you can lift weights and stretch there before you shower. Most gyms offer rental lockers, so you can keep all your toiletries there.

Don't like running? Cycling is a practical alternative to driving or taking mass transportation. (Often it's faster.) According to the August 2000 issue of Bicycling magazine, commuting 15 miles, three times per week, can save $271 in depreciation on your car and save you more than $7,000 in gas, insurance, and car payments. Factor in about 40,000 calories burned and you're way ahead of the game.

How About Lunch?
Lunchtime is a great opportunity to take a step away from your busy day in order to get in a quick workout. Not only will you be physically rejuvenated for the rest of the day, you're likely to work with a clearer head as well. However, working out during lunch is tricky and you have to be extremely focused and organized.

The toughest part about a midday workout is making sure you have enough to eat to prevent you from getting hungry once you're back at work. The best way to do that is to bring food with you to work so you can eat throughout the morning and early afternoon. This is called grazing and it's really the best way to eat, as long as you are eating healthful foods such as fruits, raw veggies, nuts, and yogurt. Once you're back at the office from your workout, you can eat a turkey sandwich or a tuna sandwich.

Here are some criteria for working out during lunch:

  • Make sure the health club is near your job. You don't want to spend 20 minutes of your lunch hour traveling.
  • Take a class (spinning, aerobic, step, toning). The great thing about a lunchtime class is that it'll be geared to people like you with no time to spare. Odds are they'll be sure to get you back to your desk in under an hour.
  • Look for a club that provides amenities such as soap, shampoo, and towels. This saves you the trouble of having to lug these things with you.
Even if you don't have access to a gym during lunch or a full hour to spare, try to do some physical fitness activity, since some is better than none. Don't have your lunch delivered if you can take a walk to go get it instead. Take a short break and stretch for a few minutes. Breathing fresh air will leave you more alert and ready to do your best work.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Short Workouts © 2001 by Deidre Johnson-Cane, Jonathan Cane, and Joe Glickman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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