Tips to Stay Fit during those Lazy,
Hazy Days of Summer

By Joan Pagano

Summer may be a time to down shift your usual fitness training program and enjoy some different leisure time pursuits. However, it doesn't take much to maintain your strength and fitness levels.  Small doses of exercise done consistently over time can do the job of maintenance, preventing a major project of starting over again in the fall.

According to the 2008 Surgeon General Exercise Guidelines, adults gain the most substantial benefits by participating in at least 150 minutes, or 2 hours and 30 minutes, of moderate intensity physical activity each week. This breaks down to 30 minutes, five days per week. Even short, 10-minute bursts of activity count toward the overall goal of 150 accumulated minutes. Strength building activities like push ups and lifting weights are included as an added benefit for improving health and strengthening muscles.

Mounting research supports the benefits of quickie workouts. Your body reaps numerous benefits just by becoming more active.  Studies show that exercise accumulated in short bouts offers weight loss and aerobic fitness benefits comparable to those achieved in longer sessions. You can reduce high blood pressure and the risk of heart disease, strengthen your muscles and bones, improve your flexibility and posture – all in little mini-workouts throughout the day.

The "all or nothing" mentality of exercise can sabotage your fitness regimen.  In fact, a recent study conducted at Boston Sports Clubs found that those who exercised for 20-30 minutes were more consistent than those who exercised for 45-60 minutes.  Instead of skipping a workout because you don't have the time or energy to do a full routine, develop a mindset that sees the opportunity to move throughout the day.

See where you can find the time to squeeze in a few minutes each day of cardio, strengthening and stretching. For example, do some stretches and bodyweight exercises when you wake up in the morning. Accumulate 15 minutes of walking on your way to work or at lunch. Take a stretch break at your desk during the day – it will refresh your mind as well as your muscles and improve your posture, too. When you get home, skip the glass of wine and do a 15-minute DVD for strength training – either a full-body workout or one focusing on your core.

In a 15-minute workout that combines resistance training with cardio intervals, you can target the recommended 8-10 major muscle groups and keep your heart rate elevated for aerobic conditioning.  One set of each exercise is sufficient to maintain muscle strength.  You'll be grateful in the fall when you are able to return to your regular routine without remedial training! 

Think of your 10 or 15 minutes as "building blocks" of fitness and see how many you can accumulate during the day. Create a lifestyle of mini-workouts to pump up your heart rate, burn calories and stay strong all summer long. 

Joan Pagano, former trainer to Jacqueline Onassis and Caroline Kennedy, is a best-selling author of five exercise books, including 15-Minute Total Body Workout + DVD.  Joan has been specializing in strength training since 1988 and is based in New York City. For more about Joan, her books and services, please visit

Dynamic Living Magazine Issue Vol. 4  Jul/Aug 2011 The End