Let’s get down to the logistics of exercise. I know that you know that you should exercise.
There are all kinds of super important benefits to regular exercise like it helps control weight, boosts energy, improves mood, combats all kinds of health conditions… (source)
But you have a packed schedule and exercise becomes one of these things: “Something that can happen at any time often happens at no time.”(Gretchen Rubin) Exercise doesn’t absolutely have to happen at a certain time each day, like work, doctor’s appointments, or anything else in your day planner, so it often doesn’t happen at all.
So let’s get extra practical for a bit and figure out exactly how to find time to exercise!
Questions to Know Yourself Better
In order to be successful with regular exercise, it helps to know a few things about yourself. By working with your natural tendencies, you’ll set yourself up for success. So before we talk about finding time time to exercise, we need to find out what works best for you.
What’s your best time of day?
There’s nothing magic about working out at 5 in the morning. The biggest reason to exercise early is so that you can get it done before things pop up throughout the day that cause you to push it off your schedule.
While that’s definitely something important to keep in mind, I’ve found that I just can’t exercise early in the day. I’ve tried and I’m no good that early! I’m usually exhausted after a workout and have a hard time doing anything else all day if I work out in the morning. I’d basically be setting myself up for failure if I continually pushed myself to get up early to work out.
Think about when you’re most alert and energized. Think about your schedule. Does it make the most sense to exercise in the morning or would you do better with right after work or before bed?
Do you need accountability?
I tend to do better on my own, but that seems to be pretty rare. A great deal of people are much more successful when they have some form of accountability.
Accountability could be a friend that you walk or run with on certain days, a fitness class that you’ve paid for and are expected to attend, an app that you have to check in on, or sessions with a personal trainer. There are many ways to get accountability if that’s what helps you to get moving.
I highly recommend Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before to help you figure out what “tendency” you are and how that might affect how you go about exercising.
What do you enjoy doing?
Working out should be enjoyable! Challenging, yes, but enjoyable!
I absolutely refuse to go for a run. Ever. I can’t stand running, so I don’t! I prefer to go for long walks, do bodyweight strength exercises, and to look ridiculous with the occasional dance workout video. If I tried to force myself to become a runner, I know I wouldn’t be able to stick with it and I would feel like a failure.
What kind of physical activity do you enjoy?
Do you like competition? My sister-in-law plays on a softball team and a soccer team.
Do you like to dance? My mom goes to a Zumba class.
Do you like to run? There are many running groups that help you train for various races.
Think about the kind of physical activity you enjoy doing before you jump into the kind of exercise everyone around you does or what you feel like you should be doing. It’s so much easier to be motivated and disciplined when you like what you’re doing!
How to Find Time to Exercise
Alright, now that you know some important things about yourself, we’re going to get into where you’re going to find the time to make it happen.
Make It a Priority
First up, let’s get honest! If you’re reading thing, my guess is that you know you should exercise more and you really would like to, but is it a priority?
The truth is that you don’t just find extra time in your day, you make extra time in your day. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time and it could just be taking away from your Netflix/couch time, but unless it’s a priority, you probably won’t do it.
If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of having one more thing to think about everyday, try deciding that you’ll make exercise a big priority for one week and then you can decide what to do after that week.
Schedule a Few Chunks of Time Throughout the Week
Look at your planner for the next week and schedule in a few small chunks of time. We’re talking 15-30 minutes, that’s all.
Then, and don’t skip this step, set up an alarm or notification on your phone to go off for each of those times.
If you need accountability, schedule that time to exercise with a friend or to go to a class.
Get Rid of the All or Nothing Mentality
This is big. A really common excuse is to think that it’s not worth exercising for just a few minutes. How much can I really do at home in 15 minutes anyway?
I used to have that mentality! If I couldn’t get to the gym for at least 45 minutes, was it even worth trying anything?
Well, in the last six months, I’ve lost 10 pounds and gone down a size or two, all in working out at home for 15-20 minutes 3 or 4 times per week. Seriously.
Every little bit counts. You don’t need a full hour to commit to working out every single day. Not many people can work that out in their schedules. Do the very best you can with 15 minutes and you’ll see positive changes in your mind and body.
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Start the Daily Walk Habit
If you do nothing else, I hope you will start the habit of a daily walk. Walking is such an easy and healthy thing to do, no matter your fitness level or age, it’s just plain good for you!
I walk Mozzie once in the morning by myself and again in the evening with Austin. We love our family walk every evening after supper because we get out of the house and have some quality time together (we don’t let ourselves look at our phones while we’re out).
You might be able to squeeze a 10-15 minute walk in during your lunch time or start having a family walk each evening.
Look for Quick Workout Routines
Be on the lookout for quick workout routines! I follow a few personal trainers on Instagram that post short workouts. I’ve also found a whole bunch of short videos on YouTube. By keeping your eye out for short workouts, you’ll know exactly what to do when you get to your scheduled 15 minutes.
Here are some of my favorite sources for quick workouts:
I also have a pack of Bodyweight Exercise Cards that I really like. I can pull out a variety of cards and easily create my own short workout for however much time I have.
Make Use of Tiny Bits of Time
I’ve been trying to develop more of healthy lifestyle that will last for years. I’m not doing crazy diets or workout bootcamps. I want to continually incorporate healthy habits into everyday life. Part of this has looked like using small amounts of time to keep moving throughout the day.
Here are some example of using tiny bits of time:
- Do jumping jacks while you wait for your water to boil
- See if you can do a plank for an entire commercial break
- While you’re waiting on hold on the phone, do a few lunges
- Stretch for 10 minutes before you get into bed at night
- Get out a walk around while you’re waiting to pick your kids up from school
- Do squats while you brush your teeth
These small actions might not seem like much at all, but they all get you moving a little but more than you were before. Small changes can all add up to some big changes over time. You might just find yourself doing more and more as you learn how to incorporate more movement into your everyday life.
Over the past two years I’ve made exercise I’ve real priority in my life. That doesn’t mean that you’ll find me at the gym for an hour every day. In fact, you won’t find me at the gym at all. You will find me out for a walk at least once a day and exercising in my living room for 20 minutes 3-4 times per week.
When we make working out into a big deal, we make it seem so unattainable that we don’t do it at all. By looking for ways to make it easier with shorter routines, daily walks, at-home exercises, and whatever time of day works best for you, it becomes much more achievable!
Yes, you really do need to make it a priority, but that doesn’t mean that you need to overhaul your entire schedule to make it work.
I hope you can pick out some of these practical strategies to try this week to start exercising more!