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How to exercise when you don't have time

Even if it's only 5 minutes

  • Justifying the lack of a regimented fitness routine is as easy as rolling off a log. We’re all well-equipped with excuses, the most popular of which — and one that requires zero creativity — is the lack of time. But let’s be honest for a second. If you were to add up all the hours spent watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy, sprucing up Pinterest boards, stalking high school nemeses on Instagram or even getting a blowout at the salon, you’d see that time isn’t really the problem.

    The key is to identify short windows of time for quick exercises, and when possible, include light equipment like a pair of dumb-bells and resistance bands. To prevent injury, fitness expert Namita Jain recommends you keep your form in check and warm up by clenching your fists and tightening your body for five seconds, and relaxing it for another five. Repeat this for a few minutes.

    Choose a time frame that fits into your schedule — whether four minutes or 45 — and finally let go of the fear of committing to exercise. 

    Flip though the gallery for some ideas


  • 4 minutes

    Try the Tabata routine, a four minute high-intensity workout format used by Olympic athletes. This routine needs to be repeated five to six times a day for it to show results. Purohit recommends a combination of squats, high knees, lunges, tricep dips, planks, pushups and crunches to make the most of your four minutes. High intensity exercises target almost all the large muscles in your arms, back, stomach, thighs, buttocks and glutes. A good example is sprinting as fast as you can for 20 seconds and then walking for 10 seconds. Repeat seven more times, with 10-second breaks in between. Doing just four minutes can burn upto 60-80 calories and, depending on the intensity of the workout, burn more fat than 60-minutes of cardio.


  • 15 minutes

    Keep your sneakers handy to squeeze in two high-intensity cardio routines every day. You can run around the block for 15 minutes; every kilometre burns around 65 calories. Running up and down a flight of stairs for 10 minutes burns close to 200 calories. If you’re at home, create your own boot camp routine with a mix of burpees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, walking lunges and jump squats. Repeat each move for two or three minutes and space them with a one-minute break. The constant stop-and-go routine boosts your metabolism and zaps fat quicker. Follow it up with five minutes of core strengthening exercises like crunches, leg raises or reverse crunches.


  • 30 minutes

    A half-hour slot is perfect to do one HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) cardio routine every day. It can burn upto nine times more calories than a traditional treadmill workout and keep your metabolism boosted for 24 hours. For this, you need to change the speed and incline of the treadmill every few minutes to keep your heart rate elevated and prevent your body from settling into a pattern. Alternatively, you can even do six sets of a Tabata workout at a go — that’s almost 500 calories burnt in just 30 minutes!


  • 45 minutes

    If you have 45 minutes, then exercising three or four times a week is enough. Power yoga, aerobics, Zumba, hulahooping are all effective forms of a cardio workout, and online tutorials are aplenty (or you could sign up for IRL classes). The benefits are huge: a 60-minute Zumba workout burns 350-650 calories. Complement this with two days of weight training every week for a balanced workout.