It’s all very well for fitness trainers to recommend three full-on cardio sessions plus toning and strengthening exercises every week, but not everyone can find time for all that. As you may well know, it is all too easy to sign up for gym membership but it is not that easy to fit regular exercise into a busy lifestyle. Physical activity combined with a healthy diet keeps you looking good and, more importantly, is the best prevention you can get against obesity and many major health problems.

The fact is, your health should always be your priority but this doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours gruelling away at the gym to make it number one. Gym member or not, you can always find the time for exercise, if you set realistic goals. If you have a busy lifestyle but want to workout, aim for a more sustainable routine. The intention to spend an hour-and-a-half in the gym after work is only worthwhile if you can achieve that. Start by increasing your daily activity levels: walk to and from the station, get off the bus a stop early, walk the kids to school and back or take the stairs instead of the lift to your office. This is a start, but you can do better than that. The time that you might spend watching Coronation Street or the first half of The Bill can be put to much better use – you can even workout while you are watching them so you don’t miss out. At least three times a week, slot 20 minutes in your busy life for a selection of these fast workouts. Interval training sessions: This is a good workout for your heart and stamina.

Pick an aerobic activity – such as running, cycling, swimming or even skipping. Rather than stick at the same pace for 20 minutes, try alternating between sprinting or an all-out effort for one minute and then slowing down until you get your breath back and then speeding up again. Follow a five-minute cool down and stretch. Circuit session: This is a good total toning and cardio workout. Choose five or six toning exercises – such as the squats, lunges, hamstring curls, push-ups and pectoral squeezes – and perform 10 repetitions of each exercise one after the other, without resting. Repeat this up to four times and you’ll have completed a great fat-burning session by keeping your heart rate up and also incorporating resistance exercises.

Follow a five-minute cool down and stretch. Gym body part workout: This will help strengthen or reshape problem areas of your body. In just 20 minutes you could perform three sets for three or four targeted exercises using gym equipment. Follow with targeted stretches. A good weekly routine would include targeted body part workouts in between cardio sessions.

Stretching: This helps re-balance your body, improve flexibility and lengthen and tone your muscles. If you are unsure of how to correctly stretch, speak to a personal trainer in order to avoid injury. Relaxation: Busy lifestyles mean stressful ones, so part of your short exercise sessions should focus on balancing the mind and easing muscle tension. Lie on the floor with your palms face up. Close your eyes and breathe deeply through your diaphragm. Allow your lungs and diaphragm to fill as much as possible, counting in for four, and then slowly exhale, counting out for five. You can also relax muscle tension. Start at your toes and clench then relax them, move to your calves and clench and relax and slowly use this technique for all of your body parts to help relax tight muscles.

Check out the benefits from the NHS here