How can I make exercise part of my daily routine?

For exercise to become a daily activity you need to make it a number one priority, like eating breakfast, or taking a shower every day. If you often find yourself using the excuse of not having enough time to exercise, then schedule exercise as an appointment into your day. Set aside a time each day that you will devote to your health and fitness. We all have 1440 minutes in our day. Set aside 30-60 of those minutes for exercise. Whether it be walking your dog, going to the gym to lift weights, playing with your children, or taking a dance lesson. Choose activities that you really enjoy. If we enjoy things, we are more likely to continue doing them.

Being physically active on a regular basis provides the body with so many benefits both physically and psychologically. Your body is an amazing machine and was designed to move. You will be doing yourself a huge favor by setting aside time each day to be active. You only get one body, so treat it well.

Look at it as me time. Most people have to give up eight hours a day or more either to their boss or maybe to their own business. Don't you think that you're worth giving time to yourself to be happy, healthy and relieve stress? Just alone motivation can be all the benefits you receive while on an exercise regimen. These are just to name a few. Now go out and take those steps to a healthy lifestyle and stick with it, you're worth it!

  • Exercise combats chronic diseases
  • Exercise helps you manage your weight
  • Exercise improves your mood, makes you feel happy
  • Exercise boosts your energy level
  • Exercise promotes better sleep
  • Exercise is a great stress reliever
  • Exercise for (functional) longe
Make exercise a daily activity by making it a priority. Family, work and eating are all priorities we make time for, so treat exercise the same way. You will be pleasantly surprised how much better you feel, how much more energy you have, how much less stressed out you are. I always tell my clients that working out is not necessarily about the hour we spend together sweating and exercising, it is what that hour allows you to do in the other 23 hours of your day. Play with kids or grandkids, walk the mall and not be out of breath, etc. Exercise is about improving your quality of life. Your life, your choice, make the choice to get fit now. Let me be your partner.
Dr. Andrea Pennington, MD
Integrative Medicine
Most of us have at least 30-60 minutes each day where we could be moving while doing other activities. For example, rather than sitting at my desk during conference calls, I put on my ear piece and move my body while listening in. Sometimes people think it's strange when I'm breathing heavily, but it's worth the extra calorie burn! Take your family or friends out for a daily stroll. It's a great way to connect with people minus the usual distractions. You get fresh air, your blood pumping and you prime your muscles to draw out energy reserves from your fat banks. Remember that our children model what they see. Let your kids see you being active— not sitting in front of the TV—and they'll be more likely to stay active as they grow older.
The Pennington Plan for Weight Success

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The Pennington Plan for Weight Success

Lose weight - permanently & easily!Dr. Andrea has teamed up with Hollywood fitness and nutrition pros, Linda & Toneka, from BWellFit to bring you the last weight loss book you'll ever need!This book...

This is such a great question. The busier our lives become, we often begin to neglect ourselves and put others first (especially when trying to skip on our workout). 

Consider the following for including exercise into your everyday activities:

  • Walk to local stores instead of driving or taking public transportation
  • Take the stairs instead of elevators
  • If you work in an office, set your printer to one further from your desk so you need to walk to get your papers
  • Stand up while talking on the phone, trying to maintain proper posture
  • Go for a walk after dinner
  • Depending on your fitness goals, do 10 minute workouts in the morning, during lunch and in the evening

Keep in mind while its recommended that we get 30 minutes of exercise a day at least three days a week, studies show that the 30 minutes does not need to be consecutive. Effects have been seen in as little as 10 minute bouts spaced throughout the day.

Change what is between your ears.

Being a fitness coach for close to 20 years I have found just a couple of people in that entire time who actually do not have the time to exercise. Every single one of my clients I tell them there is one thing that is needful in fitness and that is to be ready. Being ready is nothing you can say, being ready is an attitude, it is a state of mind.

Do you truly want to be healthier and more fit? Do you want to be in better shape? Then the real key comes down to whether or not you are ready. If you are ready then you will do whatever it takes, you will go through whatever and you will make any time that is needed.

Getting in shape does not require going to the gym for hours per day. It could be 30 minutes, it could be at home, it could be with family. You have to make the decision and you have to be ready, then you just have to DO.

Many of us have very busy schedules that often lead to workouts being cut from the day. However, there are a few options that can help you to keep moving.

  • Schedule your workouts. Actually block time out on your planner and keep your appointment (making yourself a priority). If it is not in stone, then it is percieved as optional and at the end of a long day it may get cut, which is not what we want.
  • Instead of working out at least 30 minutes at a time, you can break up your time into 10 minute intervals. If you can take 10 minutes when you get up, 10 minutes at lunch and 10 minutes afterwork or before bed, you will be good to go. A fast pased walk or a few of your favorite exercises will work great.
  • Be sneaky about it. Go head and take the stairs, park in the far space at the store, walk to get your mail instead of driving, or make seperate trips for laundry and other things so that you go up and down your stairs more frequently.

There are always ways to stay moving and active! If you have specific goals to achieve you may have to invest in a personal trainer that can work with your schedule at different hours of the day.

Make a commitment to invest in the most precious resource that you have it the world, Yourself!!! Most people have a full schedule to shuffle on a daily basis and finding time to exercise can be a demanding challenge. The recommended amount of exercise is 3-5 times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes. Finding time to exercise will enhance every aspect of your life. You will have (just to name a few) more energy, increased stamina, decreased stress levels, and many more personal benefits. 

Some options for finding time to exercise are:

  • Wake up 30-45 minutes earlier in the morning and exercise
  • Exercise during your lunch break at work
  • Find a partner to exercise with so you can motivate each other
  • Use the stairs in buildings vs. the elevator
  • Perform calisthenics during commercial breaks when watching television
  • Park in the farthest spot from stores when running errands

There are two ways to think about this question. Do you want to fit exercise into your day as a single workout session, or do you generally want to add more activity into your day, in bits and pieces?

To fit a workout session into your day, it takes planning and motivation to stick with the plan. Think of your workout as an appointment, like a doctor’s appointment, and give that appointment a high priority. Figure out when you have the hour of time (or however long you want to exercise), and schedule it on your calendar. Figure out the time of day when it’s easiest for you to follow through with your workout, and schedule your exercise time then. It helps if you can schedule exercise with a buddy, or take a class regularly so that you make friends there and they expect you. For example, finding a walking partner for a morning walk (or run) is a great way to get moving and socialize too.

To add more exercise here and there throughout your day, get creative! When you are talking on the phone, stand up, stretch, practice balancing on one foot. Balancing is actually a great exercise for the stabilizing muscles in your legs. Take stairs whenever you can; it is a quick burst of exercise. Even if there is only one flight of stairs, go up and down that flight if you have a free minute. Spend some time consciously thinking about what you do in your day. Are you ever in line, or waiting, or you have five minutes before a meeting and spend it fussing with something that isn’t really necessary? Become conscious of those moments and take advantage of that time to move a little bit. Every moment that you’re moving counts. Good luck!

Most people when they hear 'exercise' they believe they have to do it all at once to reap the benefits, or go to the gym. That's not the case. You can divide this throughout your day as long as you are getting in 200-300 minutes a week. Make yourself a list to do to help keep you on track. A suggestion try push-ups and sit-ups before getting in the shower, at lunch go for a brisk walk or take a walk on the stairs (walking to your car a couple of times at lunch if can, could be a good start). When you get home instead of watching your favorite TV show turn on that DVR and do some type of exercise for your last time of the day. By the time you finish, your show is halfway over and you can zip through the commercials. To help with your core get a resist-a-ball to sit on at your desk. Before any exercise program, get the go ahead from you doctor. And make it fun!

Try incorporating exercise into your pre-existing day. Rather than sitting at your desk, during lunch add a 10-15 minute walk. If you bring along a couple of co-workers it adds socialization and support. Park your car further from your office. Always take the stairs. 

If you have a family, come up with activities that the entire family can do together. There are so many activities that aren't expensive and that can be done right out your backdoor.

Can you find 10 minutes three times or just even twice a day, or maybe on extremely busy days just once a day?  

For one of the 10 minute bouts, remember "U.C.M.L": upper body, cardio, middle and lower body. You can do these in your bedroom, living room, backyard, or gym.  

  • Start with push ups. If you are a novice start on or knees or even against a wall. Do about 10-15 or as many as you can do.  
  • Then do 1 minute of cardio (jumping jacks side shuffle, mountain climbers, jumping rope-even if it's imaginary- or just step side to side or do knee ups for a low impact option).  
  • Then do ab exercises, again, within your fitness level, (crunches for 30 reps, or plank [prone-iso abs] for 30 seconds or bicycle for 30 reps etc).
  • Then do body weight squats or forward lunges for 20-30 reps. If your are able, do squat jumps (you may need to progress to this) for added calorie burn.
  • Cycle through 4-5 times.

For the next one-two bouts of 10 minutes just walk or go up and down stairs. Walk around the block before dinner or at lunch breaks, when running errands walk the length of the strip mall or mall a couple time just move (fast enough to bring your heart rate up).

If it's broken up through out the day, it may not seem so insurmountable. Sneak in exercise where ever you can. Nike says it the best "Just do it".

Take a look at your current daily routine (maybe write it down on a piece of paper) and think in terms of what you CAN do to incorporate increased activity (exercise) into your schedule. It does not have to be complicated or formal. We don't have to feel we need to get to a gym or have fancy equipment. Now that it's planned, the next thing that must happen in order for change to occur is ACTION. It will help to write down your plan and then log your actual each day so you can see how you did against your plan. Before you know it, you have transformed your daily routine to one that promotes your improved health.

Physical activity is a key part of preventing or managing cardiovascular disease and other conditions. Planning exercise can help make sure you don’t put it off as the day goes on. If you are increasing your exercise level after having been mostly sedentary for a long time, don’t panic: physical activity doesn’t have to be a tough session at the gym. Any activity counts as physical activity if it raises your heart rate and lasts for at least 10 minutes at a time. Even if you just move more than you usually have done in the past, you are making progress toward being more physically active. So, do what you can and get started with these ideas:

  • The housework counts, so enjoy a clean house. Vacuum, sweep, and mop the floors, clean the windows, and so on.
  • The yard work counts, too, so enjoy the outdoors. Mow the lawn, rake leaves, plant flowers, and grow a vegetable garden.
  • Use a pedometer to record the number of steps you take each day and aim to increase your steps week by week. You can work toward a goal of 10,000 steps per day, if you’re able.
  • Try bowling, fishing, or playing darts. You won’t burn a lot of calories, but you’ll enjoy becoming more active (and it will keep you from being sedentary.)

Note: Before you increase your level of physical activity, discuss your exercise plan with your physician.

Kyle True, DC
Chiropractic Medicine

Incorporating Physical Activity in your daily routine may not be as hard as it seems. There are many "little" activates that you can do throughout the day that can lead up to a good amount of exercise by the days end. Simple things such as parking the car farthest from the grocery store and walking is a good, effective exercise. Try riding your bike to work. Take the dogs for a walk in the morning and evening. Keeping your abdominal muscles "tight" while sitting at work is a good exercise as well as helping to strengthen your core musculature which stabilizes your spine, leaving it less susceptible to injury and pain. Take the stairs, instead of opting for the elevator. Every hour while sitting at your desk, try and stand up for 5 minutes and walk in place or around the office. These "little" exercises are simple but effective when they add up. Become creative with it. Make it a game to see what you can do throughout your day that would be considered a physical activity. After all, it may be easier than you think it is.

Leigh Vinocur, MD
Emergency Medicine
Why not try incorporating a small series of increased physical activity into your daily routine? So instead of circling for 20 minutes at the mall to get the perfect space just outside the door, park at the farthest space then briskly walk to the door and around the mall before you shop. Walk up those five fights of stairs at work carrying your heavy briefcase! Get vigorous when you are raking leaves or vacuuming. Studies have found short bouts of increased physical activity throughout the day have a positive cumulative effect on your body. And who knows, your newfound energy may make you motivated to start up those gym workouts too!
I hear this one a lot 'I would workout but I don't have the time'. To be perfectly honest most people have the time to workout, they simply choose not to. Your mind is the most awesome power we know, and if you allow it to make excuses or justifications---it will. If you try hard enough, you can always think of a reason not to workout or merely be lazy. After dropping that on you--here is the good news. This thought process can be controlled and redirected. By setting new habits you can train your body and mind to be more active. For example, you have a folder which need to be given to someone on the first floor or on the far side of the building. The old you might say 'I don't want to drop off the folder, it's too far. Let me see if someone else is headed that way and let them drop it off', but the new you says 'I'll be right back guys, I need to drop off a folder'. For most individuals being active is a conscious decision, don't give yourself the opportunity to talk-yourself-out of being active.
Dr. Lydie Hazan talks about how to work exercise into your daily routine, making it fun.

It’s actually a lot easier than you might think and you do NOT need to spend hours in the gym to be successful. It will be necessary for you to make a conscious effort everyday to choose to make these changes, though. Start looking for ways to add extra movement into your day. Instead of sitting at your desk at work for eight hours, get up every hour and walk around the office. Walk to the desks of the people you need to speak to instead of sending an email or calling them on the phone. Spend some of your lunch break walking outside. You can even find a friend at work to join you. Having the extra companionship and talking to someone regularly (who may have a similar fitness goal to yours), will help you stay on track with your program. Take the stairs, park further away from your destination. These little activities will add up.  

When you are in the gym, make the most of your time there. Work on total body movements. For example, instead of just doing bicep curls, choose to squat, then add a bicep curl and finish with a shoulder press. You will make the best use of your time and even see quicker results.

The first step is to make exercise a priority in your life and make a goal and a committment. Get others involved and communicate how important sticking to some daily routine is so you can get support and understanding from friends and family. Next find what activities you enjoy most. Are you the type of person who likes to exercise alone or with others? Do you enjoy group fitness or can you structure yourself to perform a exercise program solo? By answering these questions you can help to find activities that will continue to keep you motivated over time as well as networking with the right professionals and people who can get you to where you want to be. Next find your "weak spot" and think of ways to mitigate that risk. For example, do you find yourself exhausted after work and if you go "home" you won't be motivated to go out and exercise or do you have a hard time sticking into a routine if you do not see the results you want right away. By thinking about these issues on the front end, you can come up with a plan to beat the temptation when it arises. Finally remember if you do have a time where other things come up or you become overloaded and miss a workout or two, do not give up!! Keep going and always keep in mind what you want to achieve....Perserverance is key.

Dr. Doris Day, MD
If you live in an area where driving is the norm, try this now-classic but very useful tip: Park several blocks from your destination and also park in the farther reaches of the huge lots at suburban malls. Yes this means a bit more time out of your bust day, but the trick is to build the walking time into your schedule. Discipline yourself not to linger before you leave the house or office.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Stand up and stretch at your desk periodically. Rotate your ankles under your desk. None of this will cause you to break a sweat, and that means you’ll be missing some of the benefits for your skin, but the plus side is that you won’t have to take the time to shower and change clothes. Ideally, you should combine your daily exercise breaks with a real one-hour work-out done three times a week. But if you miss a work-out, at least you’ll be getting the benefit of your daily walking, stair-climbing, and stretching.
Start small. If you take on too time consuming or demanding a regimen, it will become aversive and you are more likely to drop it. 
Think about your routine and limitations. Some people may find the time going to and from a gym to be onerous - so perhaps working out at home would be better. Some workplaces have gyms. Figure out what will work for your routine and make it the most likely to become a habit.
Incentivize it. Do you crave alone time - then perhaps working out alone would make it more pleasant. If you like being with others or want to connect with others - consider a class. 
Know yourself. If you think you need a trainer to keep you on target or to "make you show up" - consider it  (many gyms offer a few complementary sessions). If you hate swimming- then you may not want that to be your exercise. 
Build it into each day, and then over time, it will become just like brushing your teeth - a habit. 
Dr. Kathleen Hall
Preventive Medicine
Weave exercise into the fabric of your day: make a commitment to stretch whenever you get up from your desk, to choose the outer edges of every parking lot, to spend 10 minutes before bedtime practicing yoga. Find exercise that is fun for you: dancing, backpacking, even swinging on the swing set in your neighborhood park.
Alter Your Life: Overbooked? Overworked? Overwhelmed?

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Alter Your Life: Overbooked? Overworked? Overwhelmed?

Themes like “I just don’t have time” and “I’m exhausted” rule our lives today. We are overbooked, overworked and overwhelmed. Just getting done what must be done fills our days. The...

Adding physical activity to your life does not have to be difficult. Surrounding yourself with social situations and social support for physical activity will help. Things like joining a walking club or a group exercise class or walking with your friends and family after work are ways to combine physical activity and social aspects together. Throughout your day, there are ways to increase physical activity as well. By parking further away from things and walking to places, using stairs instead of elevators, taking the longer walking route to things all can help you be active. If you combine social support, with an environment that makes physical activity more possible with your desire to be more active you will achieve your goal.
Many employers now encourage walking meetings, so instead of sitting at a desk, why not discuss work initiatives during a walk. Instead of sitting in a lunch room, or at your desk, eat lunch then go for a walk for the remainder of your work hours. 
During the evening hours, instead of watching TV from the couch, do sit-ups and push-ups during commercial breaks. During the show, do lunges and squats to work the legs. If you do this through two TV shows you will be getting a good workout. The bottom line, you can always find ways to add exercise in to activities of daily living.  

One can make exercise part of a daily routine by incorporating different body movements throughout the day. Some examples would be to take a brisk moderate to high pace walk at lunch, or use resistance bands to strengthen specific muscles at one's desk. Another way to add exercise in one's daily routine after work hours would be to join a softball or volley-ball league, this will allow the body to burn calories, and help reach fitness goals

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
It is important to find something you enjoy doing because you will be more likely to do it. If you enjoy biking, then make that your daily exercise. Many people forget that your form of exercise doesn’t have to be the gym or something typically considered exercise. Gardening can burn up to 272 calories per hour. If gardening is what you enjoy, then incorporate that into your daily life. You already mentioned examples like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking far away and walking to the store. Even when you are walking, pick up the pace from a leisurely walk to a brisk pace. Stand up while talking on the phone--it’s better than sitting. Busy moms don’t realize how many calories they are burning doing the things that make them a great mom. Cleaning the house burns at least 170 calories per hour. Ironing can burn 156 calories per hour. Playing with your children can burn at least 170 calories per hour. So, while you may not realize it, your daily activities as a mom are helping you burn calories. The take home message is just to get more active. Spend less time sitting on your couch in front of the TV and more time moving.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.