When was the last time you exercised? If you’re like many of us, you’re not doing it as frequently as you would like.
When you’re working full time, taking care of yourself, your kids or even your parents, it’s tough to find time to exercise. You’ve probably been told to just do this or just do that. And while, yes, walking around the block is easy, simply fitting it in isn’t. Setting up a quick workout routine you can fit into your busy schedule is possible, but it takes diligence and commitment.
Carving Out Time
Finding the time is highly personalized based on your situation. Take a careful look at your schedule and decide what is physically possible. Do you get enough of a lunch break to fit in a 20- or 30-minute workout? Can you wake up half an hour earlier or go home half an hour later? Can you exercise for 20 minutes right before bed? Look for reasonable times of the day to carve out that time for yourself.
Planning out your meals can save you a ton of time. Pack lunches, make a meal plan and prep dinner ingredients on the weekend. When you come home from work, instead of spending an hour or so preparing and eating dinner, you can squeeze in a workout without feeling strapped for time. These extra steps will support your efforts and help ensure that those little things don’t derail your attempts to establish a new routine.
After you find time to exercise, you should set a regular workout routine. Mixing it up with cardio, strength training and stretching will give you the most well-rounded fitness results. If you’re on a budget or really strapped for time, YouTube and sites like POPSUGAR offer free videos for a range of workouts with different time limits. Follow a short video while waiting for dinner to cook, during TV commercials or during kids’ soccer practice. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Walking or jogging. This is great if you’ve been sedentary for a while and need to start slow. Start with 10 to 15 minutes and work up to 30. You can split the time up throughout the day based on when you get free time. Work in 10 or 15 minutes at lunch, and add on another 20-minute walk when you get home.
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT). Maximize your time with short bursts of high-intensity exercises followed by a short rest. Exercise for 15 minutes, but keep burning calories long after. This is a great way to fit a rigorous workout into a tight schedule.
- Yoga or Tai Chi. These are great for days when you’re feeling tired or need to work on your flexibility. Pull up a video online for the amount of time you have and get going. These make great workouts on your rest days when you want to exercise but need to take it a little easier, or when you want to fit a short workout in before bed or in the mornings.
- Gym training. Before or after work or during lunch, pop into a gym. Muscle burns fat, so strength training may make the most of your time. Making an appointment with a trainer or bringing a friend encourages accountability and keeps you from backing out. When your gym appointment is a permanent fixture on your calendar, you’re less likely to prioritize other things.
- At-home exercises. Try bodyweight exercises such as tricep dips and push-ups, or use free weights on a treadmill. Create your own routine daily, or follow a video online. Challenge the family to see who can do more jumping jacks or burpees during a commercial break — this turns exercise into a family activity, killing two birds with one stone.
- 30-day challenge. Are you strapped for time but want to target a certain area? Try a 30-day fitness challenge online. These challenges typically start easy and get harder, but they all feature short exercises you can do in just a few minutes.
Making It Stick
Sticking with your quick workout routine is the hard part. Make sure your daily activities support your commitment to working out. Include your family for support and fun: Compete with your kids to see who can do the most sit-ups or jump rope the longest, or go for a walk with your spouse after dinner.
Generally try to keep moving as much as you can, such as by walking to get lunch at work or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Your sleep and eating habits will also affect how much energy you have, so make sure you’re well rested and eating balanced meals.
We all have times where we feel we are just too busy to exercise, but staying active is important for your overall health. Make a commitment and a plan to get moving, and with dedication, it will become a part of your daily life.
Regular exercise and simple lifestyle adjustments can significantly lower your chance of heart disease. Learn more about your cardiovascular health at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington.