The SparkPeople Blog

How to Squeeze Workouts into Your Hectic Schedule

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
1/17/2012 10:00 AM   :  36 comments   :  12,016 Views

Often I hear people complain that they just don’t have time to exercise.  It’s no surprise, with all of the demands on our time these days- work, family, friends, etc.  Being busy is a standard way of life for most of us.  But honestly, I’ve never met someone who’s really too busy to exercise.  You might not have a daily hour of uninterrupted time for working out, but you probably have more time than you think.  It all comes down to priorities and a little creativity.
 
The first thing I’d recommend is taking some time to think about everything you do throughout the course of the day.  Add up the amount of time you spend checking personal email, Facebook, surfing the web, talking on the phone or watching TV.  It’s good to have activities in your day to help you unwind.  But could exercise be one of those activities instead?  Could you cut back on the TV time, or watch your favorite show while on the treadmill at home or elliptical at the gym? 
 
The second thing to keep in mind is that not every workout has to be done all at one time.  You can break your workout up into shorter segments throughout the day (as few as 10 minutes at once) and still get most of the same benefits as doing it continuously.  Consider doing 10 minutes when you get up in the morning, 10 on your lunch break and another 10 before dinner.  That ends up becoming a 30-minute workout that will help you burn calories and improve your fitness level. 
 
When you’re short on time, think quality over quantity.  Unless you’re training for some kind of endurance event, you don’t need to do hours of cardio each day.  You’re better off making the workout shorter, but more intense.  Circuit training is a great way to combine cardio and strength into one session.  Remember that doing something is always better than doing nothing.
 
Make your daily life more active overall.  Even though there will be days (we all have them) where you just can’t make time to exercise, you can always make choices throughout the day that get you moving a little more.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away in the store parking lot and walk the golf course instead of taking a cart.  Make the choice to incorporate extra activity into your day whenever possible.
 
I know what it’s like to be busy.  I have three small children, a job, and a lot of responsibility on my plate.  But no matter what, I always make time to exercise because it’s good for my body and mind.  On the days where I don’t have much energy for a workout or don’t think I’ll be able to make the time, I’ve learned to adjust.  Even if I can’t do the 30-minute workout I planned, I can play for 10 minutes with the kids or walk around the gym during basketball practice instead of checking email on my phone.  It all comes down to choices.  What’s yours going to be?
 
When life gets busy, how do you squeeze in workouts?  Any creative tips you’d like to share?


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Comments

  • GETRITEBY30
    36
    I love reading to comments that pretty much counter every excuse I give myself to not exercise. Last night I went to bed early instead of staying up late watching, set my alarm early enough to get and exercise and it felt good. I'm taking it one day at a time to keep it going. - 1/23/2012   9:58:38 AM
  • JENNIFER_SAVAGE
    35
    When I get up in the morning I do some rebounding and one of the videos from the Spark Official January Jumpstart Workout Challenge. At the office I take the time twice per day to walk up and down the hall; I even know how many laps it takes to equal one mile. Small chunks of time work best for me. - 1/19/2012   3:11:16 PM
  • 34
    I work in a very sedentary job doing 8 hours in a cubicle. One thing that helps me feel not quite like such a slug is to do squats and chair pushups. I try to do something every half hour but if I don't remember until an hour or so later I don't beat myself up. I just do 10 or so reps of something, maybe 1 or 2 sets. I like the challenge of staying active at work. It forces me to be creative :-) - 1/19/2012   2:34:34 PM
  • MARCIE1455
    33
    I like reading the various comments. I feel like I am not alone regarding what I feel about working out. There are good suggestions and ideas that have been shared that I am going to implement. - 1/19/2012   12:07:32 PM
  • 32
    I workout in front of the TV and kill two birds with one stone. I go to the gym for my cardio, but I do my strength workouts at home and I generally do them while I'm watching my favorite shows. - 1/18/2012   7:24:44 PM
  • 31
    no real how to's except one. You have to make it easy for you to do it. If it isnt easy, you wont do it. I lay out my clothes and get every thing set up the night before including the coffee :)

    set yourself up for success. We all have the same 24hrs. If you have the will, you will make a way. If you have no will, there is not a membership, DVD or workout gadget that will help you. Above all, you MUST want it with all your heart, not just in between the commercials. - 1/18/2012   5:15:08 PM
  • GYMRATWANNABE
    30
    I don't know about others, but 10 minutes a few times a day just isn't feasible. I HATE being sweaty (and I sweat easily), so if I worked out 10 minutes a few times a day, I'd have to take 3-4 showers a day. So it's one big chunk of time for me! - 1/18/2012   4:02:48 PM
  • DONNASTONE1
    29
    I like the 10 minute break up part. - 1/18/2012   11:37:55 AM
  • 2DIETORNOT2DIET
    28
    I have the time I just hate to exercise, the only form of exercise that I love is in the water and because of where I live it is hard to find a pool that is open and fairley close to where I live I even joined a gym but like always I think about going but rarely do. - 1/18/2012   9:19:19 AM
  • 27
    Anyone who believes short workouts are ineffective is not doing them right. I've been doing 10-20 minute HIIT workouts 6 days a week since August, and I'm in the best shape I've ever been in in my life, way better than when I was slogging it out at the gym for hours. - 1/18/2012   8:23:29 AM
  • 26
    So happy to see you "plug" getting "unplugged" - if Americans could be honest about how much time they spend online/watching tv, they'd be shocked! (The irony of me posting this online does not escape me....) I solved the workout dilemma by getting up super early - from 4:45 - 6:30 am is "me" time, and woe to the child who wakes up too early! - 1/18/2012   7:57:30 AM
  • 25
    I use the trips to the restroom at work as moments. Our office is at the back stairs of the building so when I go to the rest room, I walk out the door, down one flight of stairs (17 steps), back up to the ladies' room, then another round trip on the stairs. While in the ladies' room, I manage to do one of the strength training exercises on SP - if in the larger of the two, I can do the standing leg adduction/abductions. In the other I can do the standing wall pushups or an upper body training. I also keep 2 lb. weights in my office...so if I'm on speaker phone, I can use them while talking to someone. Every movement helps! - 1/18/2012   7:29:16 AM
  • 24
    Always take the stairs, park in the back of the parking lot, really wiggle it when you walk (yes, I DO THIS and it DOES burn more calories)...just always be on the move when you can!
    Be purposely enifficient! - 1/18/2012   6:27:16 AM
  • 23
    I absolutely love this idea of breaking up my daily workouts into 3 sections throughout the day!!! This is way more convenient! I will definitely begin this technique starting tomorrow morning! Can't wait! (: - 1/17/2012   8:02:00 PM
  • 22
    I have been getting up 20 minutes earlier to exercise. It has worked for me - 1/17/2012   6:01:17 PM
  • PSHOPALOT2
    21
    I was a heavy exerciser for 20 years due to the military. The moment I retired, I slacked off. Then I started making excuses about not having the time. Well, recently I became serious about it and began packing an exercise bag to take to work and hitting the gym immediately after work, then pick up the kids and then home to make dinner and deal with the family.. So far it is working..hope I can stick with it!
    - 1/17/2012   5:32:41 PM
  • SBNORMAL
    20
    I am trying to work in exercise everyday and I can do 10 min at a time. I got to do several ten minutes at a time. - 1/17/2012   3:12:02 PM
  • 19
    I LOVE the idea of doing 10 minutes in the morning, 10 at lunch, and 10 before dinner. I've been trying to make time for exercise, and it seems like such a hard start, but this will definitely help! - 1/17/2012   2:59:49 PM
  • 18
    My main workout time is in the morning. If I don't do it then, it never gets done. But for a little extra, I put dinner in the oven or get it simmering on the stove and head outside with my dog for a 15 to 20 minute brisk walk. - 1/17/2012   2:30:42 PM
  • 17
    I need to remember that health is important to the overall health of my family. I can't take care of them if I'm not healthy! They depend on me to be there for them, and when I'm healthy, I can be! That's why I make time in the morning before work to get my workout done. It starts my day out on the right foot, and I feel good for the entire day. I do need to get a short nap in when I get home from work, but that feels good too! - 1/17/2012   2:00:26 PM
  • 16
    I HAVE TO TRY DOING THIS AGAIN BUT WHEN THE WEATHER WAS WARMER I WOULD GO FOR WALKS ON MY LUNCH HOUR..AND WHEN I DID I LOST WEIGHT MUCH FASTER.. - 1/17/2012   1:57:09 PM
  • JULIA1154
    15
    Since I started using a pedometer it's given me an "excuse" to meet my daily goals by fitting in walks during my breaks, jogging around the house, and yes, working out in one format or another, every day. It's amazing how very brief fitness breaks add up throughout the day. I feel a lot less stressed, too, and my muscles get a break from long hours at the desk. It's a win/win for me. - 1/17/2012   1:56:09 PM
  • 14
    I read that people who fidget tend to be must slimmer than other people, so I make it a habit when sitting at the computer to move my legs. - 1/17/2012   1:49:25 PM
  • 13
    Lucky me - I don't have a reason not to fit in exercise throguhout the day. BUT I do have an excuse not to sweat (frequently caused by exercising). The big problem for me is not having the time to then shower, wash and style my hair after breaking a sweat. I would love the opportunity to workout more, but havign to tack on time to change from business attire and then for showering/grooming is a challenge. Any thoughts, ideas, tips? - 1/17/2012   1:38:46 PM
  • 12
    Often I get too anxious to exercise. I feel like instead of doing it, I should be working on the pile of things that needs to get done. I need to remind myself that it's not all or nothing. I don't have to go all out to feel good. Doing those ten minutes here and there helps me unwind and focus better on the mountain of responsibilities. I have to remember this. - 1/17/2012   1:22:20 PM
  • 11
    I need to exercise. I need it so bad, that I have to work it into my day or else I get cranky. - 1/17/2012   1:11:34 PM
  • 10
    I've read that President Obama works out every day. That pretty much squashed the "Too busy" excuse for me! If he can find the time, anyone can! - 1/17/2012   12:10:41 PM
  • 9
    WHen IU can't do my normal exercise routine, I'll compensate by climbing the stairs at work or taking a walk at lunch time. - 1/17/2012   12:06:51 PM
  • HIMF1RST
    8
    When I decided I would exercise ten minutes every day, no matter what, and put it in my morning routine right near the beginning, that is when it began to happen. No more excuses, no more putting it off until you are too tired, no more skipping a day that ends up being a week. I feel so much more energetic, and my mood is generally happy. A real plus for a mom of ten who still homeschools 5 of her younger children! - 1/17/2012   11:51:55 AM
  • 7
    I believe if you really want to achieve something, you're going to find ways to do it. I work two FT jobs as well as a FT schedule at school, and I STILL find some time in my day (although it's 15-20 minutes) to get something done. Sometimes you have to sacrifice web surfing, facebook, eMail, whatever else is a useless distraction in your life to get the results you want. It takes a lot of self-discipline, but if you put your mind to it, you really CAN achieve anything you want!

    I like the suggestion where your workout doesn't need to be lumped into one sitting (and can be broken up in 10-15 minute windows in your day), because you're working out just as effectively. I've found this works the best in between class and work for myself, doing 4 sets of 15 reps each of lifting a weight I have at home, or doing a certain amount of jumping jacks. It's all about planning and self-discipline, and people don't realize they are more powerful than they think when it comes to it! - 1/17/2012   11:16:44 AM
  • SARAHSTARTSOVER
    6
    I am a busy working mom and I struggle with how to fit it all in, so I started working out in the morning vs. during a lunch break or in the evening, I am NOT a morning person but I have built it into the routine so it really feels just like something I just do to get ready in the morning. The best part for me is getting it out of the way early means I don't have to dread it all day long. :) - 1/17/2012   11:09:40 AM
  • 5
    I try to get my workout in the morning before work it is a challenge but my health is worth it. - 1/17/2012   10:51:10 AM
  • 4
    I can really unwind when I am outside so much more than watching tv plus I have an energetic 7 yo plus an active 18 month border collie x kelpie to keep my priorities straight! They need to move!
    I am so grateful for this time in my life as a mum and for the opportunity to experience a full, healthy life. I have begun to do yoga practice daily this year as a discipline. Sometimes 10 mins is all I can fit in and that is just fine! - 1/17/2012   10:33:32 AM
  • SFRITCH8
    3
    I agree, we spend so much time facebooking, emailing, internet browsing etc. that we really could be using to exercise. I just found out about Jillian Michaels 30day Shred and it is fabulous!!! who can't find 20 minutes, and it is an awesome workout!! I am only on day 4 but I am feeling it big time! and it is very easy to fit in, even if you have to split it up for some reason you can I suppose...I am determined that I am going to get my figure back! I too have 3 children a job, two dogs, a house, aging parents etc...so I am busy and still able to find 20 minutes...
    Keep at it everyone, you will find the time if you want to. - 1/17/2012   10:20:43 AM
  • 2
    Honestly, I know this sounds hokey, but I just make it a priority. if something's important enough to you, you MAKE the time. Even if it's only 10 minutes, I make it work. Maybe I'll put a SP video on the laptop while I'm making dinner or play with my son for a few minutes before he goes to bed. I could always find the time for playing on the internet, watching TV, whatever, so even with a busy schedule, if I could find time for all that other stuff, I can definitely find the time for at least a short workout on just about any day. - 1/17/2012   10:19:47 AM
  • 1
    I am a busy woman! I could give all of those excuses NOT to exercise. But for the sake of my health I made a choice -- I MUST do this! Probably what's helped me the most is the iPad my husband bought me for my birthday last year. I take it with me and can check my Facebook and email accounts, read SparkPeople articles and play my own music while I'm exercising. The time flies. THAT has been a blessing for me. - 1/17/2012   10:17:57 AM

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