If you’ve ever tried to make time for exercise, you know it’s not easy. And when the only time you have to get moving is at the end of a long day, it’s nearly impossible. But the truth is that any activity—even a few minutes spent walking around your house or climbing stairs—can be just as beneficial as an hour at the gym. Here are some tips for fitting in exercise even when life seems too busy.
Set a realistic goal
It’s tempting to think you can spend hours at the gym daily, but that’s probably unrealistic. Instead, set a goal for what you can do over the next week—and then build in some time for it. You might also consider breaking up your exercise into segments throughout the day.
For example, if you have 20 minutes before lunch and 30 minutes after dinner each day, that’s more than enough time to get moving. By being realistic, you can set attainable goals and help you stay on track.
Use a variety of exercise routines
Using a variety of exercise routines can help you avoid boredom and stay motivated. Try to switch up your routine at least once a week, so you’re not doing the same thing daily. You can alternate between yoga and walking or do strength training one day and cardio the next.
If you want to get in shape but don’t want to spend money on equipment, you can do many exercises at home without any tools. For instance, bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, and lunges are great for toning your whole body. You can also use household items like cans of food or water bottles to create resistance for strength training exercises.
Schedule your errands ahead
Scheduling your errands ahead of time is a great way to ensure that you can fit in a workout without having to rush. When you’re scheduling your day, organize it so that the things that require the most attention are done first.
For example, if you have an important meeting at 9 am, put it as the first thing on your list and schedule your errands after. Or maybe you need to send your child to a pre-k school at 8 am so that you can drop him off and then go for a run after. If you’re worried about having time to squeeze in your workout, try to build it into your schedule first instead of trying to fit it in once everything else is done.
This way, even if something unexpected comes up (like traffic), there will still be plenty of time left over in your day for exercise. If possible, try doing the things you enjoy last—you’ll be less likely to feel bored or tired when exercising later in the day!
Get a workout buddy
If you’re still unsure how to fit in a workout during your busy schedule, it might be time to get a workout buddy. Having someone who understands your goals and will motivate you to push through those moments when you want to quit is invaluable. You’ll also learn from each other’s mistakes and successes, making an even more effective workout.
When looking for a workout partner, consider whether they’re interested in the same activities as you (e.g., running versus weight lifting). Or, consider if they have complementary skills that could complement yours (e.g., if one person is better at cardio while the other is great with weights). It’s vital that both of you feel comfortable enough around each other so that neither feels like they have to hold back on their performance—but don’t go overboard either!
Do HIIT exercises
HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training is intense exercise bursts followed by short rest periods. If you’re pressed for time and need some fast results, HIIT workouts are the way to go.
Try these quick HIIT workouts at home with minimal equipment:
- Do timed sprints on your treadmill or elliptical machine. Sprint as hard as you can for 30 seconds, then slow down to a brisk walk or jog until your heart rate comes down a bit—about 10 seconds should do it—and repeat three times total (or until you’re exhausted).
- Jump rope. It’s not just good for kids anymore! Jump rope continuously for one minute (60 seconds), then rest for 30 seconds before repeating twice (or until all three sets are complete). This works out both legs and arms in one go—and if you get bored with the standard rope routine, try doing one whole set with each hand!
- Look for HIIT workouts on YouTube. Search for “HIIT workout” or “interval training,” and you’ll find many results. The workouts are usually just a few minutes long, so they’re easy to squeeze in between other obligations.
Find movement in daily activities
If you want to get healthy and fit, try incorporating movement into your daily schedule. Movement doesn’t just mean physical activity. It also includes things like standing up and stretching, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, parking farther away from where you’re going so that you walk more, or getting up from your desk every hour or two and walking around for a few minutes.
Choosing an active lifestyle over a passive one isn’t just good for your body but also for your mind. Studies show that active people are happier than those who aren’t active. And when people feel more content in their lives, they’re more likely to make healthier decisions about what they eat and how much sleep they get each night (which is essential when trying to lose weight).
The key to fitting exercise into your busy schedule is to be realistic about what you can accomplish. You don’t have to spend hours at the gym or become a cardio junkie. Focus on finding movement in daily activities, such as taking the stairs instead of an elevator or walking instead of driving. When it comes down to it, all that really matters is that you are making an effort—any effort—to take care of yourself!