Do you often find yourself wishing there were more hours in the day to get everything done? Finding time to prioritize exercise can be challenging between work, family, and other responsibilities. In fact, it’s one of the most common issues that I hear from my clients as they are trying to develop healthy lifestyle habits. The good news is that fitting exercise into a busy schedule is possible with a bit of planning and creativity. In this article, we’ll explore some practical tips and strategies to help you maximize your time and efficiently incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Whether you’re a busy professional or a stay-at-home parent with a packed schedule, these strategies will help you prioritize your health and fitness goals, without sacrificing other important areas of your life.
Why Fitting Exercise Into a Busy Schedule is Important
Fitting exercise into a busy schedule is essential because staying active is crucial for both physical and mental health. Exercise helps improve energy levels, reduce stress, and improve cognitive function, which is essential for productivity. Moreover, it helps to maintain a healthy weight and keep your body and its systems working properly, which is key for preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. In a nutshell, instead of thinking, “I don’t have time to fit exercise into my busy schedule,” we should be thinking, “I don’t have time NOT to fit exercise into my schedule.”
Common Barriers to Exercise for Busy People
As busy people, we often neglect our physical health because we put other responsibilities first. In many cases, we assume that we’ll just fit exercise in, but then find that’s easier said than done. This perceived lack of time is one of the most common barriers to regular exercise.
Others include fatigue at the end of a busy day and often at the beginning of it. If we didn’t get enough sleep the night before, it can be extremely difficult to muster the energy needed to do a workout. Another barrier that I often hear about is a lack of motivation. It’s simply easier to put other things first if we don’t have goals or outcomes that we’re working toward, or if we don’t have someone holding us accountable.
Tips for Fitting Exercise Into a Busy Schedule
To help address these actual or perceived barriers to fitting exercise into a busy schedule, I’m bringing out 13 of my favorite tips for helping turn my clients’ health around. Feel free to file them away to pull out if one strategy isn’t working and you need something else.
Exercise first thing in the morning
You can start to work in some movement before you even get out of bed. Tightening and releasing your quads, flexing and pointing your feet, and doing a few circles with your ankles can help ease the stiffness that many of us feel as we take the first few steps of the day.
Once you are out of bed, I highly recommend getting your main exercise session in first thing. This makes sure that no matter what else happens with your day, you’ve already it’s already done. You can also work exercise into your routine for getting ready for the day. Some examples include dropping down and doing some push-ups or core exercises while you’re waiting for the shower to warm up as well as doing squats while you’re brushing your teeth.
Schedule exercise into your day
Put it into your calendar or planner and treat your time to exercise just like any other appointment that you wouldn’t miss.
Break up your workout
Splitting movement into 5-10-minute chunks throughout the day is a great way to get in exercise. To remind you, set an alarm on your phone, watch, or movement tracker for 10-minute breaks throughout the day. Then, this is key, don’t ignore it when it goes off!
Exercise during your lunch break
This can work very well for people who get a set amount of time for lunch. Just keep exercise clothes and shoes in your car or desk so you don’t have to worry about trying to remember them every day.
Move during your kids’ activities
Unless your child is actually playing in a game or otherwise performing, there are very few reasons why you need to sit and watch an entire practice. They need their space, and you need your time to take care of yourself.
Look for ways to work movement in at work
This can be taking the stairs instead of the elevator; if walking to work isn’t an option, park 10-15 minutes away and walk the rest of the way; exercise, stretch, or at least pace around your office during meetings or calls; and use a standing desk or treadmill desk. (Full disclosure: when I really have to concentrate, standing while working doesn’t click for me, but when I’m doing tasks that don’t take a lot of thought, it’s a welcome break from sitting.)
Dance while fixing dinner
That’s right – crank the music up and move while you’re chopping, stirring, or waiting for something in the oven!
Make exercise part of the time that you spend with your significant other or friends
This way you don’t have to make a choice between doing something healthy for yourself and being with those that you love.
Use a free online workout
These can be done at your own pace and split into smaller, separate sessions if needed.
Do workouts that combine cardio and strength training
If you can’t get in both a cardio session and strength training on a regular basis, having full-body workouts that include both is an effective option that makes efficient use of your time.
Exercise while watching TV in the evening
While I am a big advocate of allowing your body and brain time to wind down at the end of the day, before you totally veg out, get in some movement while getting caught up on your favorite show.
Wear a tracker
Let’s face it, most of us tend to overestimate the amount of movement that we get in throughout the day if we’re not doing a focused exercise session. Wearing a tracker gives you an accurate accounting and often motivates you to reach your exercise goals.
Play with your kids or Grandkids
While children do need to have time when they play by themselves or with other friends if they are at the stage where you need to be close by to keep an eye on them most of the time, working in a vigorous game of tag will create memories and help to keep you healthy.
Bottom Line on Fitting Exercise Into a Busy Schedule
As we’ve seen here, fitting exercise into a busy schedule is possible, it just has to be a priority. Once you’ve determined it is, you can use these strategies to find efficient ways to work movement into your daily routine.
If working regular exercise into your busy schedule is a challenge, I’d love to talk with you about how we can work together to do that. While the tips that I’ve given here are tried and true strategies, everyone’s situation is different, and you may need a more individualized approach. If this is something that you’re interested in exploring, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].