There’s no doubt that many of us pull crazy hours at work and home, with workdays that start early, end late, and demand packing in family some time and other priorities around the edges. And workouts frequently get short shrift. But getting and staying fit needs a lot less time than most people think. Do you have 20 minutes? 10 mins? Two minutes? If so, you can make strides in your fitness.

“It’s essential to keep moving throughout the day because our body is meant to move,” says David Freeman, NASM-PES, OPEX CCP, national manager of Alpha Training at Life Time in Chanhassen, Minn. “When we were kids, movement was life. As adults, we are able to set up times for ‘recess’ and play, much like we had in school.”

Over the course of just one month, nudging even a few five- to 15-minute sessions into each day can make a huge difference in your energy, mood, and fitness. The secret lies in using every opportunity to move, stretch, and strengthen.

What follows is an entire day of movement, starting from as soon as you hit the alarm until the time you hit the sack. Select among the suggestions to create a plan which works for you.

First Thing in the Morning

Mornings may be the best time for you to fit in a heart-pumping, body-strengthening workout. Lots of people initially resist the idea of exercising at the moment of day, but “if you'll be able to get your workout in at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m.,” says Freeman, “you will be ahead of the game.”

Start with a few moments of breathing or meditation to prepare your body for action. Next, focus on multijoint strength-training movements like those below to engage your entire body and raise your heartbeat in under 10 minutes. Start with slow, controlled reps, gradually building to a quicker pace. For maximum effect in minimum time, complete your last few reps by holding each exercise at its hardest point for 15 to 20 seconds, or until you simply can't hold it any more.

“Your workouts don't need to be lengthy to determine, and feel, results,” says Jennifer Blake, NASM-CPT, RKC-II, an individual trainer and powerlifting coach at Life span in Minneapolis.

The Moves

Lunge: Step forward together with your right foot, bending both knees until they're at 90-degree angles. Push off your ball of the foot to return to the start position. Repeat for just one minute, alternating the lunging foot.

Pushup: Jump on the floor in a plank position, together with your knees either on the floor (easier) or off (harder). Decrease your chest until it's about 4 inches in the floor, then press back up. Do as many as you can in a single minute with good form.

Yoga boat pose: Sitting on the floor, balance your body weight on your sit bones as you raise your feet off the floor. Keep knees bent with shins parallel towards the floor. Extend your arms parallel to your shins. Hold for up to one minute.

Triceps dip: Sit on the edge of the chair. Place your palms around the chair with hands partially underneath your thighs and fingers pointing toward your knees. Lift your butt off the chair, then shift it forward, supporting your weight with your hands. Extend the feet away from you to make this move harder; have them closer to your body to make it easier. Decrease your butt toward the floor by bending your elbows until they reach a 90-degree angle. Press back up until the arms are fully extended. Repeat for just one minute.

Plank and side plank: Jump on the floor in a plank position in your forearms, with elbows directly under shoulders and legs extended. Hold about a minute. Then move directly into a side plank. Rotate your body sideways, balancing on your forearm and also the edge of your bottom foot. Raise your opposite hand toward the ceiling. Move back to a regular plank, then transition right into a side plank on the other side. Continue alternating between these positions for just one minute.

Wall sit: Stand with your back against a wall. Walk your feet forward and slide your back down the wall, bending the knees up to 90 degrees. Hold for one minute and then move on to the following exercise.

Reverse plank: Sit on the floor with your legs extended before you and palms on the floor just behind your buttocks. Press into your hands as you lift your hips so that your body is straight, and squeeze your glutes together. Lower and repeat for one minute.

At the Office

The longer your workdays, the more crucial it becomes that you squeeze in breaks for movement. The value of little movements adds up fast: You can build fitness while keeping your energy high, your mood positive, and your focus strong.

Not sure steps to make those breaks happen? Begin by avoiding the elevator whenever you can. Don't sit when you can stand or pace, and do not call or email when you are able walk to a colleague's office.

Additionally, consider adopting a good intermittent strength-training routine that you can perform during the period of the day, turning out a number of distinct body-weight exercises whenever you possess a one- or two-minute break. Or, schedule two 10-minute activity breaks to your day, taking advantage of those low-energy moments whenever you tend to get distracted and lose steam (or feel lured to hit the vending machines).

Try this 10-minute routine that builds strength without producing too much sweat. Some of the moves require a resistance band, which is a relatively inexpensive and portable piece of equipment for that office.

The Moves

Chair pose: Stand with your feet 6 inches apart. Bend your knees slightly and push your rear backward, as if you were sitting back into a chair. Raise your arms as high as possible. Keep your body weight over your heels. Hold for Thirty seconds.

Bridge: Lying on your back, place your arms at the sides next to your torso, palms down. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground, hip width apart. Raise your hips as high as possible. Hold for Just a few seconds. Release and repeat 4 times.

Plank: Lie on your stomach. Put your elbows under your shoulders together with your forearms on the floor. Lift your body off the ground so you are balanced around the balls of your feet and forearms. Hold Thirty seconds. Lower and repeat one time.

Back extension: Lie on your stomach with your arms by your sides. Squeeze your legs together while you lift your head, upper back, and arms. Keep the feet on the floor. Lower and repeat 15 times, holding the final repetition for 15 seconds.

High lunge: Stand and advance into a lunge, sinking down until your forward thigh is parallel towards the floor. Raise your arms overhead. Reach back through your rear heel and forward through your front knee. Hold Thirty seconds.

Negative pushup: Starting from a high plank position with hands directly under your shoulders, slowly lower your body toward the ground. Try to take 15 seconds to reach the floor.

Squat: Stand on a resistance band, holding one end in each hand. Bend your elbows and raise your hands to shoulder height while squatting until knees are bent 90 degrees. Rise and repeat.

Chest press: Lie on your back on a resistance band and bend the knees. Get a good grip on the band with every hand. Starting with your elbows bent, press your hands upward until your arms are extended. Lower and repeat many times.

Seated row: Sit on a chair with your legs extended and heels on the floor. Place a resistance band under your feet, holding an end in each hand. Pull your elbows back as if you were rowing a boat, and squeeze your neck together. Release and repeat several times.

Lateral raise: Stand with your feet on the middle of a resistance band. Grasp a finish of the band in each hand, placing your arms at your sides. Raise your arms outward to shoulder height. Slowly lower and repeat several times.

Triceps extension: Hold one end of a resistance band with your right hand and raise that arm overhead. With your left hand, grab the other end of the band behind your back, near your waist. Extend your right arm, then lower. Repeat several times with each arm.

Overhead press: Stand together with your feet on a resistance band and grasp a handle in every hand. With hands at shoulder height, press your arms upward, extending them overhead. Slowly lower and repeat.

In-Between Moments

Granted, at times are too hectic to find even five minutes to spare. Take advantage of the busyness making the most of in-between moments at the office with these ideas.

The Moves

While on the phone:

  • Use a hands-free headset so that you can stand and move around as you talk.
  • Step up and down on a stair or step stool.
  • Do a wall sit.
  • Stretch in your office doorway. Place your hands on the frame at shoulder height. Lean with the doorway to stretch the front of your shoulders. Hold 20 seconds. This stretches your shoulders and chest, both of which tend to tighten up from plenty of sitting.

At the copier:

  • Do shoulder-blade pulls. These will strengthen your shoulders and combat the forward slump that comes from working at a desk. Straighten your back with your head up, inhale, and pull your shoulder blades together, holding for a count of five.
  • Release and exhale, and repeat 12 times. Do three or four sets.
  • Practice optimal posture. Stand as straight as you can, lift your head, drop shoulders downward, and pull your bellybutton in toward your spine.
  • Breathing deeply, maintain this at-attention posture until your copy job is finished.
  • Do single-leg calf raises. Place your hands on the copier for balance. Lift one foot started. Rise onto the ball of the standing foot. Hold for any count of five. Lower and repeat 15 times. Then switch legs.

During a meeting:

  • While seated, focus on drawing in the deep abdominals just like you were zipping into tight pants. This strengthens the transverse abdominis, an essential muscle that helps support your back and reduces your vulnerability to backaches.
  • Stretch your forearms. This can help counteract the tightness that comes from typing and moving a mouse. Hold your right arm in front of you, your hand flexed upright. Use your left-hand to gently pull back on your fingertips. Hold for Thirty seconds. Release and repeat, this time with your fingers facing down to stretch the top of your forearm. Then repeat using the other arm.

While working at your desk:

  • Place a medium-size ball (roughly how big a kid's soccer ball) between your knees and squeeze. Hold 5 to 7 seconds, release slightly (without dropping the ball), and repeat until your inner-thigh muscles are fatigued.
  • Sit tall, bringing your bellybutton toward your spine. This can strengthen your abdominal muscles, which supports you sit with proper posture. Try to sit this way all day long.
  • Pull shoulders back and down. This will strengthen your upper back, counteracting that forward slump – and resulting headache and neck tension – that's so common when working at a computer. Hold for a count of five, release, and repeat Ten times.
  • Grab one knee, pull it to your chest, and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat with the other knee. This helps release tension in your lower back.
  • Stretch your neck, which can get tight if you allow it to jut forward as you work at your computer. Bring your right ear toward your right shoulder. Hold for 25 seconds, then repeat around the left. Rotate side to side, too. Finish by resting your face on the back of your chair for 20 seconds to stretch the leading of your neck.
  • Explore the benefits of yoga while at the desk with these three seated poses.

End from the Day

As soon as you get home, drop your briefcase or bag through the door and get active. Go out for a quick walk using the dog, either on your own or with your roommate, your partner, or a friend. Put on some music and dance when you do housework or cook dinner. Go for a relaxing bike ride around your neighborhood or play a game of catch with your kid.

Or drop to the floor and stretch to send the stress of the workday packing. Listed here are two suggestions.

The Moves

Cat-cow: On all fours, inhale, as well as on your exhale round your back upward, reaching your midback toward the ceiling for cat pose. On your next inhale, slowly arch your spine, cutting your belly and lifting your tailbone, shoulders, and head. Look up slightly, creating a stretch inside your neck for cow pose. Repeat, synchronizing breath with movement.

Seated hip stretch: Sit cross-legged, your right shin in front of your left. Bend forward from the hips until you feel a stretch inside your right buttocks. Hold for any count of 20. Release, switch legs, and repeat.

While we might feel stretched for some time and distracted by the busyness of labor and everyday living, working movement into our daily routines can actually help us feel more grounded,” says Blake.

Don't worry about what your coworkers will think, and don't buy into the idea that you're too busy: Finding ways to work fitness in around the edges is as beneficial for your productivity because it is for your well-being. On the days you can manage to hit the gym, you may not need all these bite-size fitness breaks. But when making space for a full-size serving of fitness is but impossible, these mini workouts are your body's best defense and your schedule's best friend.

“The trick is to create habits that you'd hate saying no to, which means you don't,” says Blake. “And then a year later, when you look back on how far you've come, and hopefully how much fun you've had, you can't imagine life any other way.”