5 Easy Ways to Fit Exercise Into Your Busy Schedule

By Ali Luke

January 16, 2009   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

I don’t care whether it was a resolution or if working out has been part of your life for years; finding constant time to exercise is tough. We all lead crazy lives with packed schedules. Add in a little lack or motivation and before you know it, a month has gone by since the last workout.

We’re talking about finding 30 minutes, a couple times per week, where you exert some physical energy. If that’s too much for you workaholics, there are some micro exercises you can do but for what it’s worth, creating a workout schedule and sticking to it has more bang for the buck.

Here are five ways to sneak in some gym sessions, exercise classes or sports training:

  • Use Your Lunch Hour
    Lunchtime is a great opportunity to get away from your desk, stretch your legs, and refresh your body and mind. But many of us fall into the trap of either working through lunch, stuffing down a sandwich whilst reading emails, or going to the company cafeteria or nearest restaurant for an hour-long natter with colleagues.

If you’re in the habit of working through lunch, look for an exercise class near your workplace that runs around lunchtime (lots of gyms offer classes in the 12-1pm slot). If you’ve got a reason to leave your desk, it’ll make it easier to take a proper break.

If you enjoy the social side of lunch, why not go for a walk with a few colleagues? I had a summer job as a student where most of the staff were in the habit of taking a half hour walk during their lunch hour, and it was one of the happiest, healthiest places I’ve ever worked!

  • Make Your Commute Active
    This isn’t possible for everyone, but most of us can manage to get some exercise in during our commute to and from work. If you don’t have far to go, can you walk or cycle and leave the car at home? (You’ll save on gas and parking too.) 

If you’ve got a long commute by train or bus, how about walking to the stop a little further from your house?

The big advantage of an active commute is that it fits seamlessly into your day without using up extra time. Cycling is often faster than driving during rush hour traffic, and walking can be too, if you don’t have far to go.

  • Exercise First Thing in the Morning
    Whenever you’re trying to establish a new habit, it’s a good idea to make it a priority in your day. If you get your exercising done first thing, you won’t end up putting it off or deciding that you’ve just had “too busy” a day to go to the gym. Morning exercise is often a more effective wake-up than coffee! 

How about going for a quick jog before your shower, doing a routine from an exercise DVD at home, or even heading to the gym on your way to work?

If you’ve got an exercise bike or treadmill gathering dust in the attic, drag it down and put it somewhere easily accessible. Set your alarm 20 minutes earlier, and spend those 20 minutes exercising.

  • Exercise Straight After Work
    How often do you head home from work, fully intending to go out to the gym after dinner, only to find yourself still slumped on the sofa at 7PM? It’s often hard to get up the motivation to move once you’re home and comfy, so try going straight to the gym or the pool after work. 

If you can rope in some colleagues, you could get together for a game of baseball or a kick-around in the nearest park after work. Don’t worry about skill levels; the main thing is having fun and moving!

Alternatively, book a badminton or basketball court at a nearby leisure center and arrange to meet a friend there after work. It’s a healthy and fun alternative to meeting in a bar for post-work drinks, and it’ll come in cheaper too. 

  • Exercise With Your Kids
    Some of us, of course, have hectic days because we’re looking after kids as well as working (or taking care of children full time). There are loads of great ways to get active alongside your kids, and they’ll get the health benefits too. 

How about going to the park or local pool instead of going bowling? Ice-skating or roller-blading rinks are very popular with kids too (swallow your pride and throw yourself into having fun with them). Pick a weekend morning or afternoon to go on a family walk, exploring an area of countryside near you.

If you have very little ones, look out for parent-and-baby or parent-and-toddler exercise groups near you (there’s a “Power Pramming” group that meets in a park near me).

What all of these point to is doing some planning, creating a routine, and sticking with it. Lack of time is one of the most common reasons we have for failing to workout or eat healthy so if you can squeeze out even 30 minutes every other day, your body will feel much better than it does today.

How are you fitting exercise into your life? Do you have a great tip on stretching your schedule to accommodate your fitness goals? Let us know in the comments!

Written on 1/16/2008 by Ali Hale. Ali runs Alpha Student, a blog packed with academic, financial and practical tips to help students get the most out of their time at university. Photo Credit: spi516
Ali Luke

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