| With these fitness shortcuts, you can exercise less and benefit more. By Colette Bouchez|
WebMD Feature Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD
The idea of workingout less and getting more out of it has undeniable appeal. After all, whowouldn''t want to spend less time sweating and straining and more time???well, doing more of whatever it is you like to do?
The good news, experts say, is that not only is this possible, but one keyto faster fitness is turning the things you like to do into fitnessactivities. Walking the dog, playing catch with the kids, orworking in your garden can help you reach your fitness goals.
"The goal here is to disguise your exercise," says Barry A.Franklin, PhD, national spokesman for the American Heart Association''sChoose to Move program. "We have, as a nation, overemphasized thevalue of structured exercise and underemphasized the value of lifestylephysical activity as a way to get more fitness into our lives."
Several studies have shown that becoming more active in our daily lives canprovide the same benefits -- including improvements in risk factors for heartdisease -- as a structured exerciseprogram, says Franklin, director of cardiac rehabilitation and exerciselaboratories at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.
"You can actually get as much benefit from daily activity as you can bygoing to a gym -- and maybe more," says Franklin.
Not only that, says physical trainer Dino Novak, ACES, ACSM, but the moreyou move in your daily life, the more benefits you''ll reap from everyworkout.
"If you are sedentary all week long, when you do hit the gym you''ve gota lot more ground to cover before you see real progress," says Novak, amaster trainer and older adult exercise specialist at the Cooper Institute inDallas.
In addition, Novak tells WebMD, an active daily life offers fitnessadvantages you won''t find in a gym, no matter how many hours you spendthere.
"The whole gym environment, especially if it''s machine-based, focuses onvery fixed, linear-path movements, but the body doesn''t really work that way inreal life," says Novak.
For example, he says, if you''re walking into the house carrying your drycleaning, drop your keys, and bend over and turn to pick them up -- all thatfixed training you''ve done in the gym is not going to help much.
"It could even be setting you up for injury if you have muscleimbalances," says Novak.
By putting more activity into your daily life, he says, you''ll not onlyincrease your fitness level, but be able to perform routine tasks with moreease -- and, possibly, less risk of injury.
Double Up Your Workout
Another way to sneak more fitness into a busy day is to vary the activitiesyou do during your formal workouts.
Too often, experts say, we get stuck in the rut of doing the same exerciseover and over -- be it running on a treadmill, doing circuit training orriding a bike. Yet mastering a single workout isn''t necessarily the way toincrease fitness. In fact, it might even set you back.
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