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What is the best time to exercise? Busy Man's Exercise Plan

Are you confused on when to exercise, or just plain short on time? If so, please read on.

A busy lifestyle can make finding the time to exercise a nightmare. Most adults who work out also have a little thing called a job, which can add up to big-time exhaustion. This puts time and energy on short supply, and unfortunately one of the first things to bite the dust is your fitness program.

What time of day do you exercise?
We surveyed 500 fitness buffs and this is what we discovered: About 28 percent exercise any time they can, a dead heat with those who prefer an evening workout. But what's the most popular time to exercise?

Morning got more than 200 votes out of 500 exercisers polled (44 percent). The least favorite time to train was during the afternoon hours (at only 10 percent).

Survey Results:
I prefer to exercise...

· Mornings -- 44 percent
· Afternoons -- 10 percent
· Evenings -- 28 percent
· Any time -- 28 percent

The Body's Natural Rhythm
Throughout the day there is also a natural ebb and flow of energy that we all experience. We adapt to our daily schedules of sleep, work, and rest, and actually become stronger during periods of the day when our bodies instinctively anticipate greater amounts of work (based on previous behavior).

In other words, if you work out every day at 6 PM, your body will get the most from a workout that takes place at 6 p.m. Because you've grown accustomed to exercise in the evening, you won't be as energetic and strong during a workout that takes place in the early morning hours. For you, a morning workout will not be quite as effective. Fortunately, any differences will be minor, and a workout that takes place during the evening hours is still far better than no workout at all.

Practicality Rules
So should you rearrange your life around exercise just to ensure an evening workout, or a workout that happens at the same time every day? Researchers are apt to answer with a very adamant, "No!" Ultimately, finding enough time (and energy) to exercise, no matter what the time of day, is what's important.

Ideally, stick to your scheduled program, but here are five ways to get around a hectic day.

1. Shrink to Fit
Cut workouts in half and squeeze in a 15or 20 minute session instead of your normal workout. These "short but sweet" workouts can produce dramatic results.

2. Start Your Day 30 Minutes Earlier
Set the alarm clock for 30 minutes earlier and workout before your day starts. Eventually your body will adjust to the earlier wake up call.

3. Split Lunch
Split your lunch hour in two, and devote half an hour to exercise before you eat. This will also curb your appetite and make it easier to cut lunchtime calories.

4. Rock-A-Bye, Baby
When the little one goes down for a nap, squeeze in 10 or 15 minutes. Whether you're a work-at-home mom or dad, take every opportunity you get to squeeze in some exercise. Repeat throughout the day to add up to 20 or 30 minutes.

5. Double Up
Create combination workouts that you can perform 3 or 4 times weekly. For example, combine 10 minutes of strength with 20 minutes of cardio training for three or four, 30-minute weekly workouts.

Don't allow strict rules on what time of day is best for exercise to dictate your workout schedule. You may wind up exercising less. Be flexible in your scheduling, and do what you can, when you can, to get the most from any exercise program!

For more practical ways to fit exercise into your life: click here

Custom Workouts by Fitness Pro, Mike Stefano MICHAEL STEFANO is the creator and author of the Firefighter's Workout (Harper Collins 2000). Mr. Stefano is a health and fitness writer, contributor to eDiets, eFitness, and Firehouse.Com. Michael's articles have appeared on AOL, MSN, and Yahoo! His workouts have been featured in magazine and newspapers from around the country, as well as in numerous network and cable TV segments. He also offers an online version of his FitFlash custom program, via a comprehensive 22-point fitness profile form.

Mike offers online personalized workouts for firefighters, candidates, and civilians.


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