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CARVING OUT TIME

Early to Rise, Early to Exercise

April 27, 1998

So you want to know when the best time to work out (and do it faithfully) is? And how do people who work out routinely find the time in the first place? Well, we asked them, and they were happy to share their secrets. Of course, it turns out there is no single time of day that works best for everyone.

So, we've broken their responses into categories and will share them with you one week at a time, from the early risers, who get up while the household sleeps for walks, runs and bike rides, to those who take power walks on their lunch hours, to those who find the energy to work all day, come home and make dinner, put the kids to bed and then jump on their LifeCycles before bed.

First, the early birds respond to how to fit fitness into their hectic lives:

A 21-Year Habit Is Hard to Break

I have found there is only one way to work out on a regular basis, and that is to schedule it at a time when no one can possibly want anything from you.

Twenty-one years ago, when I turned 38 and 40 seemed awfully close I joined the Westside Family YMCA. At that time our children were 6 and 8. While they and my husband were sleeping, I got up at 5:20 a.m. and was at the Y by 6. I did this Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week and have continued to do so!

I believe that if you can do anything for three weeks, it becomes "normal." Our children are now grown, and I and my husband are retired, but I still get up at 6 a.m. three mornings a week and go to the Y to run and use the weight equipment (yes, Kathy Smith is right--lifting weights does get excess fat off).

LIZ BENNETT

Los Angeles

A Time for Power-Walking and Smelling the Roses

Though it was extremely difficult at first, 35-plus years ago I embarked on a program of jogging for one hour--now reduced to power-walking--each morning at 4:30 on a nearby school's stadium track. At that hour, while the physical body is being conditioned, the mind has the opportunity to float free and listen to the birds happily chirping away.

ROBERT RAIMIST

Los Angeles

'The More Sweat the Better'

I read your article while pedaling away on my stationary bike at 4 a.m. I get up Monday through Friday at 4 religiously to ride my stationary bike for an hour (before my 3-year-old wakes up). Although I often feel like hitting the alarm with a hammer at that hour, I make myself remember the great feeling I get after a good workout. My husband calls me psychotic because I work out on the bike during the week and I go to the gym on the weekend to hit the StairMaster for an hour. The more sweat the better. A Walkman and some great music are also a must. The great feeling after a long, sweaty workout is only one of the good things. A workout is also the only time I have to myself. My workout time is my time to really think about things I don't have time to think about at work or at home with my husband and daughter. It's the way I vent.

STEPHANIE MERRY

West Hills

Multi-Tasking Works Best for This Stationary Cyclist

Yes, I'm one of those people who works out regularly. My secret: The moment my husband leaves for work, I climb on the ol' exercise bike and pedal away for 30 minutes or so. While pedaling furiously, I make all of my morning phone calls, thereby making each task more palatable and productive. I've turned other folks on to this form of multi-tasking, and they have reported back with positive results. Hope this inspires someone.

ANDREA TICE

Topanga

Exercise Gets Her Ready for Work

I believe in exercise before work, and that means between 2 and 2:40 a.m. That's when I rise in the morning, and exercise until 4 a.m. I'm the morning radio news anchor for KSBR-FM (88.5). I ride a recumbent bike while reading magazines for at least an hour, and I also lift weights and do stretches as part of a morning routine. Exercise enables me to be fully awake to talk to listeners.

DAWN KAMBER

Mission Viejo

She and Her Gal Pals Are Dedicated to the Extreme

My workout exercise is bike riding, which I do with two other women at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. We do this rain or shine, tired or not. We also ride on Sundays at 6 a.m. This early-morning effort evolved over a year's time. We started as a group of women who wanted to get in shape after having our children. With them finally at school age, we felt we could be away from them for longer periods of time. We started riding Sundays. Then the complaints started. "It's family day." Whine, whine, whine.

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