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No Time to Exercise? Let Us Help

There's plenty to love about classic movies, classical music, and even classic comedy, from I Love Lucy to knock-knock jokes. But there's one classic we wish somebody would detonate: the "I don't have time to exercise" excuse. Start now. These new insights on how to free up hidden pockets of time, get fitter in fewer minutes, and overcome the 21st-century time drains may be all that's standing between you and a slimmer waistline, better mood, and healthier body.

If you're among the 65% of Americans and Canadians who aren't working out two or three times a week, the first thing to know is that nobody gets more than 24 hours in a day. If you put more effort into thinking about when you'll exercise than into actually doing it, stop dithering around and just do something to move your body (anything) for a few minutes every day. Plenty of studies about building a workout habit have found that believing you can do it -- a type of self-confidence called self-efficacy -- is vital.

Of course, a little ingenuity helps, too. Here's the latest on overcoming five time traps:

Time Trap #1: You'll exercise later today; then, something always comes up.
The Fix: Do a fast 15-minute workout in the morning.
Even if you're not a natural-born morning person, you can get out of bed just 15 minutes earlier. Your motivation? Morning minutes pay big fitness dividends. Studies show that 1) an a.m. exercise routine triples your odds of sticking with it versus late-day physical activity; 2) morning exercise seems easier than later workouts; and 3) you're less likely to cut morning exercise routines short. Get fit with more health boosters for busy people.

Time Trap #2: Ditching exercise completely because you can't do your whole routine.
The Fix: Push harder in whatever time you have.
Yes, we YOU Docs want you to fit in 30 minutes of general physical activity (like walking) every day, and 20 minutes of alternating stamina and strength exercises most days, but we're human, and so are you. On days when you've got less time than most hedge funds have money, use this nifty fitness-saver. Whatever you do -- walk, jog, bike, swim -- do it as fast as you can for 1 minute, then slow down for 1 minute and recuperate. Repeat up to 10 times. This high-intensity technique (interval training) builds fitness even for elite athletes.

Time Trap #3: You can't imagine taking an exercise break at work.
The Fix: See it as a focus-sharpening "productivity break."
Last month's widget sales report is important, but brain scans prove that nobody really stays focused all day long. Most of us fade after 10 to 40 minutes. That includes us YOU Docs and, probably, you! You may take breaks all day without realizing it -- by checking e-mail, catching up with a pal, or simply slowing down. Next time your focus wanes, take a 5-minute walk, or do some cube-sized calisthenics. Your brain and body will be fresher for it. And work will be less work. Learn more about exercising at work.

Time Trap #4: You've "friended" everybody from junior high on . . . and you're now stuck in an endless online gabfest.
The Fix: Log off, and think about how much fitter you'll look when you post your vacation pictures in 2 months!
Around the world, time spent on social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter rose 82% in the past year. We're all for reconnecting, but the small screen is a big time drain. Hit the off button, people! Even better, enlist a friend or neighbor for some in-person connecting while you walk. And even better than friends or neighbors, this may be your best walking partner of all.

Time Trap #5: Dancing with the Stars, Survivor, Glee, Friends reruns -- and, of course, The Dr. Oz Show.
The Fix: Turn must-see TV into must-move TV.
Sitting boosts your odds for heart disease and diabetes, so store unfolded laundry and unread magazines on your couch, not your treadmill! Dust off that exercise bike, mini trampoline, dumbbells, or exercise ball, drag them into your TV room, and use them while you watch. Or just lace up your sneakers and march in place (high-step it!) throughout your favorite show, hitting the carpet for some crunches during commercials -- and get rid of the couch or chairs in any room with a TV. Try these easy and effective balance workouts you can do in your living room.