Find Time for Fitness: 6 Ways to Fit Exercise in a Busy Lifestyle
We’ve all been there: we have every intention of getting up early to go to the gym, but a late night gets in the way. Those lunchtime plans to hit the gym are swallowed up by a conference call that goes too long. And after work? Forget it. You’re exhausted: a workout sounds nearly impossible.
At the same time, we know that movement – and getting enough of it – is key to feeling great, maintaining a healthy weight and supporting everything from proper sleep to smooth digestion.
So when you can't fit in a full gym session, here’s how to get more exercise in a busy lifestyle:
Get up and move [at least] every hour
Aim to stand up and move around at least once an hour, particularly if you spend much of the day sitting. Walk around, do some gentle stretching or move through a couple of downward-facing dogs. A few minutes of movement to interrupt stillness can make a big difference over a day, improving blood flow to your muscles and your brain and keeping your focus and energy on point. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to do so.
Implement HIIT breaks
To keep your metabolism guessing (“Are we going to need to tap our energy sources? When is the next burst of movement coming?”), work in a minute or two of high-intensity movement a few times each day. This could include a set of jumping jacks, squats and push-ups (if your environment permits) or a few laps up and down the stairs at a quick pace. When your system doesn’t know when it’ll next need to access stored fuel, it’ll keep burning at a higher rate, even when you’re at rest, to stay prepared.
Make a point to park further away
Sure, that parking spot right outside the door is tempting, but parking a few rows (or lots) back will mean a few extra steps and a negligible amount of extra time added to your day. The same goes for public transportation: hop off a stop early and walk the extra five blocks. Those steps can make a big difference: just 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, including brisk walking, can reduce your risk of Type II diabetes by 40%, a benefit comparable to that seen in people who get 90 minutes of vigorous movement weekly.
Use a bike share to get between meetings and errands
Lots of running around to do? If you’re in a city that offers it, skip the Uber and hop on a bikeshare, like Divvy or CitiBike. You’ll be less likely to get stuck in traffic and you’ll get a nice burn for those quads between work commitments.
Have a walking meeting
Sounds a little untraditional, but if you can talk a co-worker into a meeting while strolling through the neighborhood or around the building, you may notice that your focus, energy and enjoyment of the meeting might go up. These are especially valuable if you’re trying to think creatively: movement increases blood flow to the brain, making those light bulb moments more common.
Get creative to fit in your workouts
If you’re regularly missing workouts, it might be time to take more action. Be decisive about when and how your gym workouts or fitness classes will fit into your weekly schedule. Prepare your gear the night before so that you’re out-the-door ready when you wake up. Choose a studio that is close enough to work to cut down on the excuses (especially if they have a shower!). Keep a bag of gym clothes and shoes at the office to make lunchtime works a little simpler. Form a running group with co-workers to break up the afternoon when possible. Make plans with friends that involve a yoga class or a boot camp after work: that accountability, no matter how busy the day became, will help you keep your commitment to yourself to get to the studio.
- Amy Height