Let's be clear about one thing right off the bat: In order to get in shape fast, you do have to try a little. Sadly, they have yet to invent a pill that unearths Emily Ratajkowski–worthy abs overnight, so in the meantime, at least a little bit of effort is required. And anyway, we can all but guarantee that your mind and body will thank you for putting the time in: Being active does wonders for your overall well-being, from boosting immunity and happiness to helping with sleep deprivation.
This all being said, you also don't need to spend hours on the treadmill to get in great shape. You don't have to kiss your social life goodbye or designate an hour per day to get your gym fix in order to see results. And perhaps most significantly, you don't have to spend a lot of money. You actually don't need to spend any at all.
We know this from experience. As busy, working women who still prioritize our health, we're constantly on the hunt for ways to break a sweat without breaking the bank (or our schedule). Some of us even hate the gym, which is why convenience is ultimately crucial: We're that much more likely to work out when it's easy (and cheap!) to do so. And as we've put some strategies into practice, we've found that some work better than others. Keep reading to see our favorite ways to stay in shape with minimal time and effort.
1. Walk everywhere
Not only is it better for the environment to give your car a break, but it also works wonders for your waistline (and mind). Plus, it feels leisurely, and it's free. (Just maybe stock up on some blister block.)
2. Stream workouts from your living room
3. Is time of the essence?
Then consider Tabata or HIIT, which require you to go all out for just 10 to 20 minutes (but torch serious fat and calories even after you're done).
4. Vacuum your abs
Not literally, please. Ab-vacuuming, which basically involves sucking in your stomach whenever you can remember to do so, went viral last summer as the new hands-off tummy-toning workout to try. (It still works, promise.)
5. Double down on good habits
Even if it's just stretching on the daily or drinking enough water, it all adds up. Get more ideas for small goals you can make here.
6. If you have the budget, invest in fitness equipment you can take absolutely anywhere
Whether it's in a hotel room or your shoebox apartment, the idea is to be able to break a sweat no matter where you are. Pro tip: Choose something that will give you a full-body workout in a flash, like a jump rope. (Not good at skipping rope? Jumping jacks work, too.)
7. How good is your form, actually?
Quality versus quantity: It really matters, especially if you're looking for the most efficient workout possible. Exhibit A: These souped-up push-ups that promise toned arms in just two weeks.
8. Prioritize mind over body
Getting toned abs in as little time as possible sounds appealing—we get it. Vanity doesn't have to be out of the picture! But we've found that when we choose a workout that fuels our mind and allows us to go to a happy, meditative place, the physical stuff falls right in line. (We're also that much more motivated to stick with it.) Experiment with forms of active meditation and go from there.
This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.