Our lives are so busy! There are so many important things we need to get done, and there are only so many hours in the day. After a jam-packed day, exercise can feel like the last thing you want to do. Sleeping, relaxing, or watching TV could possibly sound much more appealing to you. How on earth are you supposed to fit in time for exercise, much less find a way to prioritize it?
Regular exercise is so important for your physical, mental, and cognitive health! Even if you can’t do it every day or are unable to do it for very long each time, it is very important to find a way to fit exercise into your routine and to prioritize it. No matter your level of skill or ability, just find what is enjoyable and safe for you. Let’s discuss my top 10 exercise tips for a busy schedule!
1. Switch It Up
There is nothing more boring than doing the same thing over and over again. Keep exercise interesting and exciting by switching it up! Don’t just go on a run every time. Consider also incorporating other types of exercise such as strength training, yoga, swimming, etc. If you look forward to exercise, you are much more likely to do it!
Doing the same types of workouts repeatedly is not only boring; it is also not as effective as changing it up. Engaging in varying types of exercise keeps your body and muscles on their toes. This is because different exercises challenge and engage different muscle groups (arms, legs, core, etc.) and different physical skills (flexibility, endurance, strength, balance, etc.).
2. Fit It In Where You Can
It is an amazing feeling when you are able to use your time effectively and accomplish two things at once! Think about your daily activities and try to identify some opportunities for incorporating exercise while accomplishing certain tasks. For example, instead of simply bending over to unload each item from the dishwasher, you can do a squat or a lunge when picking up each item. When I take my dog to the dog park, instead of sitting on the bench and watching him play, I spend that time running around with him or doing some push-ups.
You will likely be surprised by how many opportunities you have to incorporate exercise into the activities you’re already engaging in each day. Taking advantage of these opportunities is a fabulous way to stay active without taking extra time out of your day!
3. Count Your Current Activities
When we think of exercise, we typically think of activities performed during dedicated times for the sole purpose of working up a sweat and being active (going for a run, doing a Pilates workout, etc.). However, ANY activity you engage in that gets your heart rate up or works your muscles is considered exercise!
Carrying boxes while helping a family member move houses? That counts! Doing yard work? That counts! Lifting your child up on playground equipment? That counts! Just because you didn’t set aside dedicated time for exercise today doesn’t mean you didn’t exercise. Don’t discount the activities you’re already engaging in that challenge your body. You’re likely being much more productive and active than you’re giving yourself credit for!
4. Utilize Small Increments
When you have a full schedule, the idea of having a full hour to dedicate to exercise can seem laughable. Remember that exercise doesn’t have to take that long. You can fit in some fantastic, challenging, and exhausting workouts in just 10-20 minutes! Whatever amount of time you do have, use it well by upping the intensity. Just do what you can because every little bit helps!
Similarly, you don’t have to do your entire workout for the day all at once in order for it to be effective. If you have 10 minutes here and 15 minutes there, feel free to split up your exercising accordingly. There are no set rules for the timing of exercise. Any time you spend being active improves your health!
5. Incorporate Workout Buddies
Nothing holds you more accountable with exercise than a workout buddy! Whether it is your partner, friend, mom, or brother, find someone who will exercise with you or otherwise push you to regularly stay active. My mom and I rely on each other for this, but our differing schedules can make it hard to exercise together very often. However, just knowing that each of us will be asking the other how many times we’ve exercised that week is enough to keep us feeling motivated and accountable!
Having a workout buddy doesn’t just help you stay accountable with exercise; it also makes exercise more fun, engaging, and enjoyable. Even further, it introduces the element of competition, which can push you to be even more active!
Speaking of competition, you can also incorporate another health-related competition with your family members or friends by comparing your water intake via a smart water bottle app! I used to really struggle with drinking enough water each day, and the Hidrate Spark 3 Smart Water Bottle helped me completely transform my water-drinking habits and greatly increase my daily water intake in a fun way! The sensor automatically tracks and records your water intake, and the blinking light helps you remember to drink water throughout the day. The linked app syncs your water intake data to help you track your progress in real time, and you can use the app to compare your water intake with family members and friends who also have a Hidrate Spark water bottle!
6. Use Workout Videos
With so much on your mind each day, it can be very difficult coming up with workouts and spending time planning your exercise routine. The stress and time commitment from this can even be enough to keep you from exercising at all. Workout videos are an amazing solution to this issue! There are tons of free videos out there of wonderful, dynamic, and challenging workouts, and they have been shared by experts in the field who have done the research and planning for you. Talk about a time-saver!
It can be a wonderful feeling being able to shut off your brain during a workout and just follow along to a video, and YouTube has tons of great, free workout videos to choose from. The FitnessBlender channel is my personal favorite because it includes some wonderful workouts for all skill levels at varying lengths and intensities! Find some options that you’d be interested in and have them ready to pull up when you have some time to spare for some exercise. You can also download an app to help plan and guide your workouts and to hold yourself accountable. Nike Training Club is a great one, and it’s free!
7. Exercise In The Mornings
After a busy, stressful, and exhausting day, it’s very possible that exercise is the last thing you want to do. You simply might not have the energy. If this sounds like you, consider exercising in the mornings instead! Imagine being able to knock out a workout before:
- Your kids wake up
- Your work colleagues start calling and emailing you
- You get distracted with the day’s responsibilities
- The day’s activities wear you out
- Other needs come up that require your time, attention, and energy
Additionally, exercising in the morning is actually likely to help energize you for the day! It gets your blood pumping and your mind engaged. It also jump-starts your metabolism which can help you burn more calories throughout the day. Since exercising releases endorphins which make you happy, doing so in the morning can even help get you in a positive mood and mindset for the day. Who doesn’t want to start the day feeling like an invincible superhero?
8. Set and Work Toward Goals
Think about how you want to incorporate exercise into your life and what you want to get out of it. If you set specific and attainable goals for yourself, you are much more likely to take the steps to make it happen! Maybe you want to lose weight or gain muscle strength. Maybe you want to maintain your current weight while feeling more energized. Or, maybe you want to spend more time moving and less time being sedentary. Make it your own! Whatever your goals are, tracking your progress can help you prioritize exercise, even when your life is super busy.
About two years ago, my goal was to lose 20 pounds. After I reached that goal and ever since, my goal has been to stay active and maintain my current weight. If you also have weight-related goals, I highly recommend getting the GreaterGoods Smart Scale! While there are more health indicators than just your weight, this scale helped me tremendously with reaching my weight loss goals because I was able to visualize my progress! It syncs to an app where you can track your weight, BMI, body fat, lean mass, water weight, and bone mass.
9. Incorporate Time with Family or Friends
When you’re wanting to spend time with your family or friends or to supervise your kids, it can be difficult to pull yourself away to exercise. However, there is no need to exercise alone! Go on a walk with your family, play soccer with your friends, or let your kids try out some yoga poses with you. Incorporating time with family or friends into your workouts will not only make exercise more fun; it will also keep you from feeling like you’re sacrificing quality time to fit in a workout.
Family walks are a favorite for my husband and me because it gives us some dedicated time to talk about our goals and aspirations all while getting some fresh air, sunshine, and exercise! Find activities that interest your family or friends, and take advantage of those opportunities to be active while spending time with them. It will make exercise feel less like a chore and more like a way to make some wonderful memories!
10. Be Patient and Forgiving
I am wrapping up the list with this one for a reason. It’s super important! Remember that exercise is not an all or nothing activity. Just because you can’t exercise as many times, or for as long, as you wanted to doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still (proudly) do what you can. Have to skip several days in a row because a huge project came up at work or because your kids have super busy schedules this weekend? That’s okay! There is nothing wrong with adjusting your schedule or goal timeline as needed as long as you are still making active and healthy choices overall. Slow progress is still progress!
Be patient and forgiving with yourself because life is unpredictable, and something is bound to come up occasionally that will interfere with your plans. In the grand scheme of things, your sanity and sleep are more important than fitting in a strenuous workout. I’ve had many exhausting days where it gets to be 10:30 PM, and I (wisely, in my opinion) choose sleep over exercise. Listen to your body, give it what it needs in that moment, and know that you are doing what is best for you!
With the limited number of hours we have each day, it can be very challenging finding a way to fit in some exercise. However, there are many ways to help incorporate exercise into our day and to make it a prioritized part of our routines. My hope is that the 10 exercise tips discussed above help give you some options to consider. The key is to make exercise convenient, flexible, enjoyable, multi-purpose, and stress-free. Most importantly, remember that every little bit counts!
I would love to hear about your experiences! If you have any questions or additional insights pertaining to exercising with a busy schedule, please share them via the comment box below.
Exercise is also wonderful for your fertility! If you are currently trying to conceive, check out my posts on the Fertility Diet for Trying to Conceive (TTC) and 5 Tips for Staying Sane During the Two-Week Wait (TWW).
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