How can I fit exercise into my busy schedule?

If you're battling to find time to exercise, then sneak in random activity! Committing to regular exercise or activity is great, but also try to move whenever and wherever you can throughout the day.

Instead of trying to carry everything upstairs at once, make several trips. Park your car at the farthest end of the parking lot. Get off the bus one stop early. Walk through all of the aisles at the store, even if you only need a few items. Instead of emailing a coworker, get up and walk over to his or her desk. Get down on the floor and play with your children or toss a toy with your dog. The possibilities are endless.
Keri Gans
Nutrition & Dietetics
Everyone’s schedule is crazy. That’s why you write to-do lists or use the calendar software on your phone or computer, right? And that’s why you should literally schedule your workout into your day. Make an “appointment” with your favorite fitness DVD, weights at the gym, or yoga class, and chances are you’ll keep that appointment.

Also consider when your schedule is least “crazy”—morning, afternoon, or evening? Schedule your exercise appointments during that time. Before long, your workout will become a regular part of your day. Another trick that works: Put on your workout clothes, even when you don’t want to. Once you make it that far, you’re more likely to actually work out.
The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You

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The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You

THE ONLY “DIET” PLAN YOU WILL EVER NEED! No deprivation, no struggles. Just ten small changes that will transform your life. Keri Gans, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, shares...
F. Michael Gloth, III
Geriatric Medicine
There are many ways to exercise that will fit nicely into your daily schedule even before you decide to carve out time specifically for a formal exercise routine. Here are some things you can do that will contribute to your fitness and -- in some cases -- actually save you time:
  • Stop waiting for elevators and start using the stairs. You'll get to your destination sooner, and you'll have burned some extra calories as well.
  • Avoid double parking or parking in an illegal spot just to be closer, even if you're only going to be somewhere for a minute. By making the effort to park in a legitimate parking space, you'll not only avoid inconveniencing someone else, you'll benefit from the extra steps -- calorically speaking! Better still, park in a space farther away, where there are few other cars. If you pick a space in a lighted area where there will be no cars next to yours, you will get extra exercise, and you'll also avoid having someone opening their door into your car. That will keep your car looking better and even help its resale value.
  • Walk to locations that don't absolutely require driving. Many places a half mile or even a mile away take less than 15 minutes to reach on foot. Walking will likely take no more time than driving, and it might actually save time while providing great exercise.
  • When walking from your car to your office or other building, take the scenic route, especially if there is an option among multiple entrances.
  • Do your own lawn chores and housework, and if you can, shovel your own walkway/driveway after it snows.
  • Walk your shopping cart to the cart corral or back to the store.
  • Take trash to the curb, and always walk to a trash receptacle with your garbage rather than leaving it in a more convenient place.
  • Wash and wax your own car.
Fit at Fifty and Beyond: A Balanced Exercise and Nutrition Program (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

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Fit at Fifty and Beyond: A Balanced Exercise and Nutrition Program (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

As people reach their fifties, the body’s metabolism slows. Without a change in eating or exercise habits, it’s common to put on weight and become less able to perform routine physical...

It can be a challenge to find time to be active when you've got a hectic schedule. Start by taking a moment to remind yourself that your health is at stake. You're not wasting time by being physically active, you're buying time. The time you spend exercising now comes back to you later in the form of a longer, more active life.

Three Tips to Get Started:

  • Make a multitasking strategy. Can you walk and chew gum at the same time? Then talking and walking at the same time won't be a stretch. A daily walking program doesn't have to mean cutting back on family time if you combine the two. Take walks in the evening to catch up with your partner, kids, friends, or parents. Another way to multitask: Combine exercising and commuting. You can bike to work or park a mile away and walk to and from your car. Other multitasking options: Have walking meetings with colleagues, clean the house at high speed for a cardio boost, and catch up on your reading by listening to books on tape while exercising. Finally, wear a pedometer. This simple, affordable device counts the number of steps you take. With a little effort, you can probably figure out creative ways to make your normal daily life active enough to meet the recommended 10,000 steps per day.
  • Schedule exercise into your appointments. Take an extra 10 minutes before or after each appointment, and use that time to walk around the block or up and down the stairs. Schedule exercise into your outings with friends and family as well. Instead of dinner and a movie, make it lunch and a hike or breakfast and a bike ride. Keep a pair of running shoes in the trunk of your car so you can grab a few active moments whenever your schedule allows.
  • Use exercise to unwind. With a jam-packed schedule, stress-reduction strategies are a must to help ward off needless aging. Exercising allows you to kill two birds with one stone because in addition to getting you fit, exercise is a natural stress-reducer. It boosts blood levels of endorphins, which are the body's natural mood enhancers, and decreases blood levels of cortisol, the body's stress hormones.

However you manage to squeeze in time for exercise, your body and mind will thank you for it. Before long, you'll really miss it when you don't get to exercise because of the impact it has on your physical and emotional well being.

Sadie Lincoln
Sadie Lincoln on behalf of barre3
Feeling stressed for time is one of the most common obstacles to making exercise a regular part of life. Here are some tips that work well for me and my clients:
  • Change your perspective. Do you look at exercise as a chore? How can you make it an integrated way of life? Choose activities you enjoy doing and are motivated to make time for.
  • Find a schedule, and if possible, a regular time of day that works well for you - and stick to it! At first, this new addition to your day may feel bumpy; you will have road blocks but be persistent. Figure out how to adjust your work schedule, childcare and social obligations around this new way of life.
  • Choose short and efficient workouts that are straightforward and easy to do anywhere. That way, you are not always dependent on schedules, gym hours and other variables out of your control.
The usual tips like walk or bike to work, even part of the way, walk stairs whenever possible can help. Also remember that you can divide up your “dose of exercise” and do it in smaller increments throughout the day, as long as you elevate your heart rate during each experience. Keep weights at your desk and get in some arm workouts or squats and lunges during the day if you can. Commit to setting your clock even 20 minutes early and keep workout clothes by your bedside (or even wear them to bed).
Make it a regular habit to pace or do actual exercises when you talk on the phone. At the office you can do pushups off the wall or hold a plank position several times a day, if your clothes comfortably allow it. Dance at home to music while you cook and certainly commit to workouts on the weekend. Commit to lunchtime workouts by bringing sneakers to work and invite co-workers to join you.
Fitting in exercise into a busy schedule can happen without having to block out large chunks of time or trying to squeeze more time into your day. Increasing activity can be as simple as small things as parking further away from work, walking to lunch, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to talk to co workers instead of calling or sending emails, parking as far away as you can when you go to the mall or shopping, or the movies. Doing chores around the house, gardening, mowing the lawn all count as physical activity. The key is to fit in activity throughout the day, instead of trying to block out large chunks of time. If you have 5 minutes in the morning perform some pushups and sit ups or some light stretching.   By adding small bouts of activity throughout the day you’ll improve your fitness, and it will be more manageable than trying to block out large chunks of time during the day.

Here are some tips to exercising with a busy schedule.

1. Incorporate exercise into your pre-existing schedule. Park your car further from your office. Take the stairs. Add a 10-15 minute walk into you lunch break. For socialization and support bring some friends or co-workers.

2. Start exercising one or two days a week for 10-20 minutes and see how that feels. More is not always better. It's better to start off with a manageable amount of exericse (incorporate 15-20 minutes a day) and see how your body responds. Starting off with too much can lead to drop out. 

3. Psychologically it's ok to break up your workout into two or three shorter workouts versus trying to get it all in at once. Shorter workouts actually provide incentive for people to workout (more) because it's a shorter amount of time that fits better into busy schedules, the discomfort is for a shorter amount of time and a shorter time frame really helps people to feel like they can get through it. 

4. Managing time starts with an awareness of how you are spending your time. People find it extremely helpful to keep a time diary. For three days write down everything you do during the time with the corresponding time and length of time. For example, 8-8:30 eat breakfast, 8:30-9:30 work, 9:30-10:30 walk, Noon-1 lunch, 2:30-3:30 meeting, 4:00-5:00 work on project. If you look at this you'll notice that there are several blocks of unutilized time between 10:30-Noon, 1-2:30 and 3:30-4. You shouldn't have to utilize every second of everyday but this does show that there is time available during this day. People think they don't have time but realize they either do, aren't managing their time efficiently or are so busy that it feels like there isn't any underutilized time available. Once you become aware of how you are using your time then you can better manage it. 

Jill A. Grimes, MD
Family Medicine

You can get enough exercise with a busy schedule by planning to move more, wherever you are. Trying to go to the gym every day is a setup for failure. While exercising every day is absolutely possible, and indeed, desirable, exercising in a specific place outside your home -- like the gym -- is very difficult. Say today you wake up and your child has a fever, so you can't leave the house. Tomorrow you have a business meeting in the evening (no time to workout, shower, and clean up between work and that meeting) and boom, then it snows/rains/floods ... you get the picture!

Planning a day or two per week at the gym (or the track, or walking the mall) is wonderful, but, please, set yourself up for success by having backup plans at home. I am a big fan of exercise bikes and DVDs for this reason. Grab your tunes and/or your dog and head out the front door. Set a timer for 30 minutes, turn on some music, and dance! Or set the timer for 30 minutes, turn on music, and clean your house -- actively! Vigorously scrub the counters, alternate hands, squat up and down unloading the dishes, mop quickly, whatever it takes to keep your heart rate up.
Which exercise is best? The one you will do. The main idea is to move more. Consider getting a pedometer to help track your movement and inspire you to move more.

Continue Learning about Types Of Exercise

Types Of Exercise

Types Of Exercise

Exercise provides many health benefits - from fitness to increased physical and mental energy. In order to prepare yourself for a exercise routine, you need to research which exercise is right for you and how to fit a new exercise ...

e program into your daily schedule.

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.