It's difficult keeping your priorities straight, but exercise is key to reducing stress and maintaining health. Carve out 30 minutes a day, and make it count.
Step 1: Warm up Warm up your muscles quickly by walking or performing slow stretches for about two minutes before starting your workout. Cover your limbs to keep the heat in.
TIP: "No pain, no gain," is not necessarily true. Don't force your muscles to do too much -- if you feel pain, stop.
Step 2: Choose the right machine Choose a machine that challenges you and keeps your attention. Confronting something you don't like and overcoming it gets your adrenaline pumping.
Step 3: Rotate quickly Rotate from one cardio machine to another in random order -- bike, elliptical machine, treadmill, and Stairmaster -- spending 5 minutes on each.
TIP: Burn fat around the house if you can't get to a gym by vacuuming, standing while you read, walking up and down stairs, or using basic resistance techniques while you're on the phone, cooking, washing, or dusting.
Step 4: Substitute activities Substitute running or jumping rope to keep your rhythm and heart rate up if someone is using a machine you wanted to use.
Step 5: Limit warm up progressively Limit your warm ups as you go from one exercise to the next until, on the last one, you give it all you've got.
Step 6: Reserve time for cool down Reserve time for a 2- to 3-minute cool down. Don't waste the workout and pull a muscle because you rushed the critical minutes after.
FACT: A 1999 study of older adults found that those who walked about 45 minutes 3 times per week for 6 months performed better on cognitive tasks than those who did stretching or strengthening exercises.