Finding time, inclination and oomph to exercise is tricky enough. But even when you have all three, unforeseen glitches can gum up the works. As this season's wintry weather will attest, into every great exercise intention, a little snow (or ice or rain) must fall.
Or if not frosty weather, 95-degree temperatures (yes, they will return). Or a sick child might keep you confined to the house. So might the impending visit of a appliance repairman, who promises to arrive some time between 8 a.m. and midnight.
What to do?
First, take comfort knowing that, although you don't want to make a habit of this, skipping a workout is OK.
"A few days won't make or break you as far as strength training goes," says Clint Elliott, family wellness director for Lake Highlands Family YMCA in Dallas. "You might be a little sore that first day back, but you can go almost a full week between workouts as far as strength is concerned."
The same holds true for cardio, he says.
"Say you're a runner. If you don't run for a week, you still have the same endurance on the day you go out following that week you've been off."
But before shrugging off that slight urge you might have had to move around a little, remember that a little sloth goes a long way.
"If all you do is sit on the couch and eat hot dogs and baked beans," Elliott says, "you won't come back with the force you left with."
Plus, says Dallas personal trainer Lori Louis, not exercising — and not doing much of anything — can play havoc on your emotions.
"When we find ourselves isolated or trapped indoors, it's easy to start feeling blah or depressed," she says. Exercise can help offset those things.
During the recent wintry weather, clients Louis normally would visit in their homes e-mailed and texted her, asking for workout recommendations. She was going a bit stir-crazy herself, she says, so offered suggestions based on what she (and her two children and husband) ended up doing.
"I pushed a chair out of the way in my living room and got myself a space no more than six feet by four feet, long enough to stretch your body," she says. "You can get in a good workout."
One great way is by circuit training; that is, doing a variety of exercises, each for a minute.
"It doesn't require specialized knowledge or fancy equipment, just dedication," Louis says. "What I like about it is that I do anything for a minute. It's manageable. When it starts getting hard, I know I'll soon be moving onto something else."
That's the beauty of it, she says. "You do one activity, then immediately go to another one and work another part of the body. Your heart rate's recovering while you're doing resistance, so you're working up your heart but not as much. By the time it settles into normal range, you spike it up again."
Ready? Here's how to do it.
Warm up. Spend five to 10 minutes doing squats, arm circles and lower-intensity versions of what's to come. "You're getting your blood flowing, but not adding intensity, just elevated heart rate."
Set a timer, preferably one you can set to go off every minute.
Alternate cardio. Try a minute each of jumping rope (with or without a real rope), jumping jacks, skipping in place or high-stepping with resistance work.
Push-ups and crunches. (Yes, the knee-modified push-ups are fine.) If you have resistance bands, use them. "They're easily affordable," usually $7 or $8, Louis says. Or you can use canned goods as weights. Use them to do arm curls, either standing up or as you do squats.
Think lofty thoughts. That is, get airborne. "When you add an element of elevation, that gets your heart rate going," she says. Louis doesn't advocate jumping onto the couch; instead, just get both feet off the ground at the same time.
Repeat the circuits. Thirty minutes will make a good workout, as will 20 minutes or an hour.