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Less than 25 percent of adults exercise on a regular basis, thus, children - and adults - are spending more time performing sedentary tasks, such as surfing the Internet, playing video games, and watching television. This lack of exercise increases insulin resistance, hormone dysfunction, and inevitable weight gain. So, what can we do to keep fit and how do we fit exercise into our busy schedules?

Exercise Timing

One of the questions I am asked most often is: “Should I work out in the morning or the evening?” To enhance fat burning, the best time to work out is in the morning. Once you do 10 minutes of this fun program and eat protein for breakfast, you will rev up your fat-burning furnace by 25 to 40 percent and it will last for 12 or more hours throughout the day. Also, often after a hard day at home or the office, we don’t feel like exercising and we don’t want to rev up our metabolism a few hours before we go to sleep.

So, set your alarm 10 minutes earlier, have fun with this exercise regimen and you will be rewarded with a tighter, stronger body. Consistency is the key. Get out of bed, put on a T-shirt and shorts, get your water bottle and towel, and get started. Exercise, then hit the shower, and eat breakfast. Start Day 1 on Monday so that Day 6 and Day 7 will be Saturday and Sunday, which are usually the days we do more outdoor or family-oriented aerobic activities.

Fitness Fun 10 minutes a Day

Warm-up before you begin. Stretch your arms to the ceiling. Breathe deeply. Then reach towards the floor. Breathe deeply. Jog gently in place for 30 to 60 seconds. Drink water before you begin and remember to drink more water between the two sets of exercises. Dehydration can make you feel weak and dizzy.

The goal is to work up to three sets of each exercise with successively heavier weights. Start with the lighter weight and increase the weight slowly. Depending on your level of fitness, you may increase weight and repetitions more quickly. Whatever your level of fitness, build on your previous day’s success; if on Day 1 you lifted a light weight only three times, try to lift four times on Day 2. Then move on to a heavier weight and so on until you finally reach the goal of three sets of repetitions using successively heavier weights. The fact that you are trying is success. And remember, no matter what your age or fitness level, you will be able to do these exercises, so just have fun.

Day 1

Shapely arms:

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms down the side of your body. With a light dumbbell in each hand, take a couple of deep breaths, exhale and curl both arms to a 90-degree angle. Make sure your elbows are at your sides and not bending outward. Hold for two seconds. Inhale as you lower the weight. If you are pushing your stomach out and bending backward, the weight is too heavy. Make sure you are standing straight and strong. Exhale and repeat the exercise 10 times. Do not pause between curls. Pick the medium weight and repeat 10 curls. Then choose the heaviest weight and repeat more 10 curls. If you find that you cannot complete the last set of 10 curls, then use the medium weight for both the second and third set of repetitions It is best to do the required 30 curls even if you have to use the smallest weight initially. This exercise also improves neck muscles and tightens sagging chins.

Arms without wings:

This is the exercise that makes the backs of your arms beautiful while also toning your abdominal muscles. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Hold the lightest dumbbell by your ears with your elbows pointing up to the ceiling. Exhale as you raise the weight from your ears toward the ceiling. Your arms should be straight up now. Hold for two seconds and inhale as you lower the weight. Repeat 10 times. Do not pause between curls. Next, choose the medium weight and repeat 10 curls. Then use the heaviest weight and repeat 10 curls. To really get the benefit of this exercise, hold your abdominal muscles tight and push your lower back toward the floor after you inhale. Focus on your breathing. If you can’t complete all three sets with successively heavier weights, just use the lowest weight at the beginning and within a couple of weeks you will be able to progress to the heavier weight.

Day 2

Sexy calves:

Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the lightest dumbbells in each hand with your arms at your side. Keep your shoulders back but relaxed, not pulled up toward your ears. Exhale as you raise your heels. You should now be up on the bottom of the front of your feet, but not so high that you end up on your tiptoes. Hold for two seconds. Inhale as you slowly lower your heels. Repeat for 10 lifts. Next, pick your medium weight and repeat. Then use the heaviest weight and repeat for 10 more lifts. Beautiful calves are the end result of this exercise. Once this exercise becomes effortless, instead of moving to heavier weights, add ankle weights while holding the dumbbells for increased results.

Tight thighs and cellulite reducer:

This is my favourite exercise as it gives the fastest results. Stand with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders, with your arms at your sides. Keep your back straight. Exhale as you squat down to about 90 degrees with your butt out, as if you were going to sit down. Your knees should be in line with your toes. Hold for one or two seconds. Inhale as you straighten up. This is called a squat. Do 10 squats, then rest for a count of 10. Do 10 more squats. Soon you will be able to do an additional 10 squats for a full 30 squats. This exercise sculpts great legs, and helps tighten the skin on your upper thighs and butt to reduce cellulite. Once you get very good at this exercise, add wrist weights.

Day 3

Chest and breast press:

Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Hold your lightest dumbbell in each hand with your arms out from your body like a cross. Bend your arms at the elbows toward the ceiling. Exhale as you push the weight up toward the ceiling. Hold for a count of two and inhale as you bring the weight back to the starting position. Repeat for 10 presses. Then change to your medium weight and repeat for 10 presses. Finally, choose your heavier weight and repeat. This exercise makes for strong arms and builds chest muscles. It also tightens sagging breasts in women.

Tight abdomen:

We all want tight abdominals. You may be able to do only a few of these exercises at the beginning. Start slowly and add a few more repetitions every time you do this exercise, but try to do as many as you can, up to 10 in each set.

Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Cross your arms over your chest. Exhale as you curl up toward your knees. If you can raise yourself only a few inches off the floor, don’t worry - it will get easier. Make sure your lower back is not arched upward. Repeat as many as you can. Remember, the more you do this exercise, the tighter your abdominals will become and the inches will fall off soon. You can do it.

Day 4

Butt lift:

Kneel on a rug or mat on all fours. You should have your hands and feet positioned so that you feel steady. While keeping your head up (do not look at the floor), exhale and raise your right leg until your thigh is even with your back and push toward the ceiling. Hold for one second and inhale as you return your knee to the original position. Do 10 repetitions for the right leg, and then repeat for the left leg. This exercise gives you the greatest butt lift. As you get better at this exercise, increase the number of repetitions to 15, and then 20 per leg.

Even better butt lift:

Pick a sturdy chair and lie on the floor on your back with the chair at your feet. Place your palms flat on the floor with your arms at your sides. Lift your legs and put your heels firmly on the chair. Exhale as you contract the backs of your thighs and lift your butt toward the ceiling. Hold for two seconds. Inhale as you slowly lower your body back to the starting position. Do 10 repetitions. Stop, rest for 10 seconds, do 10 more repetitions, and then the last 10 repetitions. Once you feel strong doing 10 repetitions, add another five, and so on.

Day 5

Shoulder lift:

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your back straight, and your arms at your sides. Grip a light dumbbell in each hand then raise your arms out from your sides with your palms facing upward, until your arms are level with your shoulders. When you raise your arms to shoulder height, turn your palms down and hold for one second. Inhale as you lower the weight. Repeat 10 times. With the medium weight, repeat 10 times. Finally, do 10 more with your heavy weight. If you push out your stomach or arch your back, you are using too heavy a weight. Either use a lighter weight or reduce the number of repetitions.

No more back fat:

Sit in an armless chair. Pick up a dumbbell in each hand. Lean forward with your arms at the side of the chair and exhale as you point your elbows toward the ceiling. Stop when your hands are at the height of your thighs. Hold for two seconds and inhale as you lower your arms. Do this 10 times. Next, repeat 10 times with a medium weight. Finally, repeat with the heavier weight. This exercise gets rid of the flab that women accumulate on their back around their bra strap and strengthens back muscles.

Day 6 and Day 7

Move your body:

Go for a walk in the park, bicycle with your kids, swim, golf, play tennis, garden, or go dancing. Do anything that requires you to move your body. Add some exercise variety today and tomorrow. You have done fabulously and should be proud of yourself. Even after five days most people feel stronger and want to exercise. It is so easy to fit 10 minutes of exercise into your day. If you miss a day because you slept through your alarm, just remember to do your exercises the next day. Repeat these exercises as recommended and in a few weeks your body will reward you with tight muscles and a slimmer, sexier you.

Lorna Vanderhaeghe, MSC

A health journalist, Vanderhaeghe as been researching and writing on the subject of nutritional medicine for over 20 years. She is past editor in chief of Healthy Living Guide and Alive magazine. Lorna is the author of A Smart Woman's Guide to Hormones, A Smart Woman's Guide to Weight Loss, A Smart Woman's Guide to Heart Health, the A-Z Woman’s Guide to Vibrant Health and many more.