How To Fit Exercise Into Your “Too Busy” Schedule: NO EXCUSES!

April 24, 2012 23 Comments TAGS: Diet & Food, Wellness

By Guest Blogger Samantha Peters

It’s hard to understate the importance of exercise. By getting physical activity we can strengthen our immune response and our cardiovascular system, buffering our bodies against heart disease and other ailments. We can lose weight and feel younger. We can reduce stress and battle depression. No matter what we specifically choose to do – whether it’s running, swimming, tennis, or yoga – there’s truly no substitute for a lifestyle that promotes exercise and activity.

We all know this. But there’s often a considerable gulf between knowing the benefits offered by exercise and implementing them. We may know that it’s important to hit the gym a couple times a week or lace up our shoes and go for a run, but it is often far easier to postpone the activity when the time arises. This is understandable; although a workout can be invigorating, fun, and even relaxing, inertia often keeps us from getting out the door in the first place. It is ultimately far easier to sit in front of the TV than it is to get on our feet and challenge our bodies. Consequently, even the best intentions often go for naught. You can probably relate – I certainly can.

So it can be difficult to motivate oneself to work out even during the best of times – times when you have no outside stresses, obligations, or any other sort of excuse. But making a workout happen during busy periods in our lives is even more challenging. While our bodies could benefit even more from an exercise session during a hectic and busy time, it is all the more easy to prioritize work or family and put physical activity on the backburner when we don’t have much freedom to spare. Rather than go to the gym, we finish off work at the office. Rather than swim laps, we spend time making dinner for our families. Both of these pursuits are worthy and essential – but so is exercise. How can we make time for everything?

There are only 24 hours in the day, and sometimes in may be simply impossible to get a workout in when you’re busy with projects at work, dinner at home, and errands for the kids. That being said, it should be possible to make exercise happen if you are properly motivated and budget your time right.

Motivation Is Key

Making room to exercise is in large part a factor of motivation: if you’re more motivated, you’re more likely to find time in your schedule.

Here are some tips I have used for accomplishing my objectives, and finding time to care for my body:

  • Create incentives. Just as your boss may give you incentives to work harder, so too can you incentivize yourself to actively exercise. These incentives can be “negative” motivators (such as joining a gym and then using the money you spent as an impetus) or more positive ones (ie rewarding yourself with a meal or a trip after a successful month of working out).
  • Find a partner. If you can’t sufficiently motivate yourself, it can always be helpful to find someone that can do it for you. Having a workout partner gives you an added obligation to exercise. It also, of course, can make the process a more enjoyable one.
  • Switch things up. People will usually get sick of doing the same thing over and over again in every walk of life – and exercise is no exception. If you need some motivation, then, you  might want to ride the stationary bike instead of the elliptical for a day or perhaps go for a run outside instead of lifting weights.
  • Set goals. How fast do you want to get in the mile? How many pounds do you want to lift? Answering these questions – and then writing them down – is a great way to light the fire and get you to the gym.

Find Time To Workout

Once you’ve become more motivated, it’s now time to fit that workout into your busy work and family life. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Run or bike to work. While this is not logistically feasible for many people, the “workout commute” offers a great way to get exercise on a limited schedule. You don’t have to run or bike to work every single day, but doing so even twice a week can translate into substantial fitness benefits.
  • Exercise on your lunch break. Many workers are capable of eating a meal outside of their lunch break hours. If this is the case, you can spend that midday period getting exercise – either by going for a run, joining a gym near your office, or even running stairs in your building. There are also numerous exercises that can be done while you work in your office. For example, you can do situps, pushups, plank hold, squats, wall sits, and lunges, among many others.
  • Stagger your routine. Some people are all or nothing when it comes to working out: if they can’t exercise consistently, every day, for 30 minute periods, then they don’t have enough momentum to get a workout in while they can. These people are often best served to stagger their routine by doing short workouts during the week (perhaps even as short as a session of plank hold in the office as described above) and then by maximizing their physical activity during the weekends. You don’t need to work out for the same duration and at the same time every day; rather, exercise is beneficial so long as it is consistent in your mind.
  • Sacrifice sleep. If all else fails, you can probably find time to exercise by waking up a bit earlier in the morning and sacrificing some sleep. You won’t miss time at work or with your family, and it is often easiest to motivate oneself when exercise is the first item scheduled for the day. Try going to bed a little earlier at night if routine works best for you. Moreover, if you go for a run or do an exercise video at home, you could wake up only 30 minutes earlier and still get a solid session in.

By following these tips to become more motivated and to make more time, you can hopefully succeed in getting more physical activity despite a busy schedule. While making a workout commitment is never easy – no matter how busy you are – it’s almost always doable so long as you have the proper foresight, desire, and preparation in mind.

You matter.

~Sam

About Samantha Peters…

Samantha Peters a fitness expert and blogger who writes for publications helping women avoid depression and stay healthier by finding creative ways to exercise during the busiest of days. Samantha lives in sunny Southern California where she stays active by running with her 1 year old puppy on the beaches.

Tell us, was this the kick in the ass you needed to finally put yourself back on your own “to-do” list, and practice self-care? Did this motivate you to get off the fence and get healthy? Do you exercise regularly? Do you never exercise? How do you find the time to work out?  Share any motivational tips you might have with our community. Or vent any frustrations about this topic you might have too– misery loves company. 😉

Signed,

Tired, but still pushed herself this morning. (Aka Erica)

    23 Comments

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    10. SamanthaNo Gravatar says:

      Just wanted to thank everyone for leaving such nice and thoughtful comments here!

      Special thanks to Erica for helping me make this such a successful first post.

    11. Janice ANo Gravatar says:

      Great post! I think I need to post it in a visible spot as my reminder!

    12. Alessandro says:

      Create incentives and set goals ! Like those two, will try that

    13. Finding something that energizes you and burns calories is crucial to me in order to keep consistent.

      I started horseback riding 2x/week. Between the grooming/riding, I’m burning over 500 calories each time. 🙂 It’s the best and I love it so much, it doesn’t feel like work!

    14. I’ve worked from home for 4 years and over that time I have gained about 35 lbs. Recently we moved and I decided that I was going to get a townhouse because it would force me to get moving. Over the first 3 weeks I lost 10 lbs. That made me feel better so I’ve been looking for other ways to stay moving like doing yoga and pilates, even if it’s just for 15 minutes.

      I think the hardest thing was just getting started.

      • SamanthaNo Gravatar says:

        Congrats on achieving that first step of becoming more active and for dropping 10 lbs in 3 week!

        I totally agree that beginning a new activity like yoga and pilates is always the hard in the beginning. However, you begin with small steps and soon will build a routine around the new activity and really see the benefits.

    15. Anonymous says:

      I always find it ridiculously naive for people to assume that women should always have time for exercise even though the daily routine is to wake up at 6:00am, get ready for work, get kids ready for school, drop kids off at school, get to work at 9am, work until 5 or 6pm with little flexibility, come home, deal with kids’ homework, dinner, bath and bedtime AND after kids are in bed- make lunches and get ready to do it all over again without help from nannies and husbands.

      • Anyone wanna chime in?

        Miss / Mrs / Mr Anonymous, I feel what you’re saying. I totally do. When I was running my first company, I couldn’t do it in the morning, nor did I have the energy at night. I always seemed to find excuses, but then I started training at lunchtime. I only worked out 2-3 days per week, but it made all the difference. 45 minute workout, shower, and eat at my desk on those 2 days, and one day on the weekend. I was lucky enough to have a gym at the first company I worked for, and again, found my mojo at lunchtime. I can tell you from experience, it’s possible. Not easy, but possible.

        Try? 😉

        • CathyNo Gravatar says:

          It is possible, just try! I am a single mother with two kids working full time so my time is very limited. I used to get frustrated because I never get time to exercise. I decided to use my time with my boys to exercise. I walk with them to school and on the week end, I play soccer, baseball or street hockey with them. We also love to go swimming together. I also heard that cleaning the house is good exercise! What ever works best for you!

          Good luck

          Cathy

        • I agree here. You can’t say that you don’t have time to get up for a minute and stretch between phone calls at work. I’m a single mom so I understand being busy. Have you thought about getting your kids involved to help you fit the exercise in?

        • annie says:

          I get that mrs anonymous cant find the time to do a regular excercise routine but there are always stairs to climb instead of elevators, streets to walk on instead of drive on etc. We have all made excuses. there are always options?

    16. Lisa JNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you for the reminder. This was just the kick in the ass I needed. I am hit or miss with the gym to be honest. Either I go 3x’s per week and eat well, or I don’t go at all and eat terribly. I can’t seem to find the balance. Great tips.

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