How do I find time to exercise?

Thirty to 90 minutes of exercise a day -- or 150 to 300 minutes or more a week -- seems like a lot of time, but you don't have to do it all at once. It's best to spread your activity out during the week. You can even break it into smaller chunks during the day, as long as you're putting forth moderate to vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time.

So try it! Break your aerobic activity into 10- or 15-minute blocks several times a day if it helps you reach your total daily and weekly activity goals!

The question is how can you not make the time to exercise? Think about the benefits of exercise:

  • Increased self-esteem
  • Increased energy
  • Increased stamina and endurance
  • Stronger heart and lungs

If you ask me, these benefits are much more appealing than the reverse. Who doesn’t want to have energy or stamina and endurance? We all enjoy time to relax but it seems we are able to find that time prior to exercise. Cut out a half hour of your day, whether it may be a TV show or some activity in which you do daily so that you can exercise. Believe me, you will thank yourself and your body will do the same!

Eric Olsen
Lack of time is perhaps the most common barrier -- or excuse -- many of us encounter when starting out or trying to stick with exercise, and although some activities sound great "on paper," they aren't necessarily ideal for busy men and women. You can do yourself a favor by choosing activities that fit well into your schedule of work, family, and other commitments.

Write out your schedule for a typical week looking for gaps here and there where a few minutes of brisk walking or jogging, for example, can be worked in. Can you get up 30 minutes earlier for a before-work walk or bike ride? Does that mean going to bed 30 minutes earlier? If so, can you adjust your evening activities accordingly? What about at lunchtime? Are there recreation facilities or a pool or park near your work? Can you take a few minutes during lunch for a swim or walk? How important to you is a leisurely lunch? In your mind, do the benefits of that free time outweigh the benefits of exercise? Are there opportunities for exercise in the evening? Can dinner be delayed for the sake of a sweat? Can you exercise after dinner? And what about weekends? Can you schedule some time for catch-up activities?

Swimming is an excellent overall exercise, but unless you have your own pool, you're limited to the hours the community or health club pool is open for laps, and it takes time to get to and from the pool. If your own schedule of meetings and travel doesn't coincide with the pool schedule, it's sometimes to tempting to not exercise at all. Walking or jogging, on the other hand, is something you can do almost anytime, anywhere, weather permitting, thus it fits more readily into full schedules. But if you live where the winter weather gets really wet or cold, or very hot and humid, walking or jogging may not be the solution either, so be sure to give some thought to prevailing weather patterns throughout the year and the appropriateness of potential activities.
Lifefit: An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life

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Lifefit: An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life

An easy-to-follow programme for lengthening and improving lives. More than an exercise guide, this text is an effective tool for making meaningful lifestyle decisions to benefit long-term fitness. In...
Sadie Lincoln
When struggling to find time to exercise, try fitting in 10 minutes at a time.  Most of our clients are busy professionals and parents who often find it hard to fit in a full hour of exercise everyday.  Which is why 10 minutes at a time is essential to staying healthy and fit.  Try taking a brisk 10-20 minute walk during lunch. Or quick moment throughout the day to fit in a few seated core exercises or pushups at your desk.  My personal favorite is to sneak in a few leg and standing yoga postures while cooking dinner at night.  Finding ways to be active throughout the day can help you to make exercise a priority on those days when you have more time.
Maoshing Ni, PhD, LAc
Geriatric Medicine
Here are some ways to work exercise into your schedule:
  • Park farther from your destination so that you will be walking 10 minutes to and from your destination.
  • Walk or bicycle to do your errands.
  • Take the stairs whenever you can.
  • The next time you find yourself passively watching television, multitask! Do some squats, leg lifts, and other stationary exercises.

One of the most common excuses for not exercising is "I don't have the time." But most of us have more time than we realize. It doesn't take a lot of time to move your body a little more than you're moving it now, and every little bit of exercise counts. Look for hidden opportunities to be active throughout your day, and take advantage of them. Each morning, while you wait for your coffee to brew, do back leg lifts at your kitchen counter or jog in place. At your child's soccer game, walk up and down the sidelines versus sitting in the bleachers. Take the stairs, sit on a balance ball at work if you can, and use part of your lunch hour to take a quick walk.

Every night, write down what time you'll walk or do other exercise the next day. This moves your intentions out of la-la land and into the real world. Then, start by exercising for just 15 minutes a day. If you find yourself making excuses, think about how good you'll feel when you're done. Focus on that amazing post-exercise "high" -- and put one foot in front of the other.

Edward Phillips
Physical Therapy
Ever wish you could fit exercise or another change into your life, but—sigh—you just don't have enough time for that? Truth is, most of us have pockets of unused time. If you find that's not so, consider getting up 15 to 30 minutes earlier, skip a TV show, or take a close look at lunch hour and dinnertime to see if you might find a short span of minutes there. Five minutes is enough for a small stress-buster. Ten minutes is sufficient for a walk, a quick financial task, or planning a pleasurable meal. Twenty minutes will help you tally some of your strengths or map out your next steps for change.
John Preston, PsyD
To find time to exercise, list the times of day when you can increase your activity level. Because many people often say that lack of time is the biggest reason for their lack of exercise, think of things you could do later or not at all so you can place your need for exercise higher on your priority list. The things we do reflect our priorities. Get your family to pitch in on chores so you can have more time to get healthy. Take your young child along and set a positive example (carrying a baby in a sling or backpack greatly improves the outcome of any exercise program). Instead of having sedentary meetings, go for a walk together.
Bipolar 101: A Practical Guide to Identifying Triggers, Managing Medications, Coping with Symptoms, and More

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Bipolar 101: A Practical Guide to Identifying Triggers, Managing Medications, Coping with Symptoms, and More

After receiving a bipolar diagnosis, you need clear answers. Bipolar 101 is a straightforward guide to understanding bipolar disorder. It includes all the information you need to control your...
Dr. Kathleen Hall
Preventive Medicine
The most common question I hear about exercise is not about what to do or the benefits of exercise, but "How can I find time to exercise in my busy day?" Here are some solutions I have found to this very real problem:
  • Put your treadmill or tread climber in a room with one of your televisions. Tape your favorite show or pop in your favorite DVD and watch it for 30 minutes while you exercise. Because my day is so busy, I "Tivo" Oprah or my favorite evening shows watch them while I exercise. Then I do a few sit ups and lift weights a few repetitions.
  • Exercise throughout the day. Take your dog for the morning walk at a fast pace. Get home and walk her again briskly for a few minutes. After starting dinner, maybe get on the floor and do some yoga or stretching.
  • During your lunch hour walk briskly on your first half hour and pick up and eat your lunch on the second half hour. The sunlight during this time is an added benefit that science shows makes you feel better.
  • Whenever possible take the stairs at work or at the mall. When I shop at the mall I try to walk around briskly for a few minutes before or after I shop.
  • For parents with younger children you can discover creative ways to exercise during your day. Take the kids with you and walk the dog in the morning. You can put on an exercise tape of Tae Bo or any other fun exercises and make it a family affair by having the children exercising with you. Anytime during the day or evening throw on some of your favorite lively music and dance with your children and your spouse. This makes exercise playful and teaches your children at a young age to keep their bodies moving.
I have given you just a few options about different exercises. If you don't have time to attend class, do what I do. Rent a videotape or DVD of a type of exercise you are interested in and try it. If you like it, do it at home on your schedule and you will keep it up.
A Life in Balance: Nourishing the Four Roots of True Happiness

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A Life in Balance: Nourishing the Four Roots of True Happiness

Nautilus Book Awards Winners for 2007 (category: Self-Help/Psychology/ Personal Growth) "Like many people, Kathleen Hall found that despite great success and material wealth, she had yet to identify...

If this question has come up for you as an obstacle to starting an exercise program, you most likely have a time management challenge. By addressing your overall time management, you will indirectly solve this obstacle and open up more time for other things as well.

Ralph Simone of Productivity Leadership Systems created a simple funnel system for individuals to manage their weeks as they relate to their goals. The slogan of the funnel is aptly named "Slow down to go faster". The funnel starts with an exercise to challenge your thoughts on your overall purpose and values and the intended outcomes that are identified from them. This exercise is fundamental to addressing time management. The identification this provides creates the blueprint for your life. 

At this point the funnel addresses the challenge of finding time. Ralph considers exercise Energy Renewal. Energy renewal consists of physical, mental, and spiritual renewal. Exercise can spill into all of these categories, and is an absolute must in helping you fulfill your purpose, values, and goals. Energy renewal is to be performed on a daily basis, which then becomes a high priority when filling out your daily calendar. 

Filling out the daily calendar starts with only activities that achieve your goals, and exercise is a prerequisite. Once you have filled out the highest priority events, you than address the day to day activities. These activities are needed, but do not necessarily help you in achieving your goals. The funnel suggests looking at these activities and choosing which ones you can delegate, automate, or eliminate. 

The most important aspect to solving how to find time to exercise is to elevate the importance of exercise. That exercise sets the table for you achieving your purpose, values, and goals. If you can accomplish this, exercise will become a lifelong activity.

Visit Ralph Simone at for more information regarding the planning funnel.

Today, see if you can identify the areas where you could better use your time. Think about ways you can re-prioritize how you spend your time, and change unproductive habits into healthy habits.

For example, are you spending more than an hour doing anything unproductive? Like watching TV, or gaping at the internet. (I use these as examples, because I am often guilty of this.) How about using this time to work out instead?

During your lunch break, spend the first 10 or 15 minutes walking around the building, up and down the stairs, or outside if the weather is nice. Just this little bit can increase blood-flow and circulation, and even perk you up.

At the store or office, park as far away from the building as possible. This extra walk will do you good and every step you take adds up. I also like to walk my shopping cart all the way back into the store for good measure.

At work try to keep moving throughout the day. Especially if you have a desk job. When you're at the copy machine, try some calf raises. Try to get up and walk around at least once an hour. Practice good posture when you sit. Keep a water bottle at your desk; you will stay hydrated and have a reason to get up a couple more times to use the restroom. 

Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier in the morning for some stretching, Pilates, or pushups. Then before bed, do another 10 minutes of stretching or yoga.

During your home routine, see if you can add a morning or evening walk. Do lunges to the restroom when you need to go. Do 10 squats every time the phone rings. Try calf raises while brushing your teeth.

If you were to add up 10 minutes of exercise in the morning and evening, 15 minutes at lunch and, say, another 15 minutes for all the other little bits of walking you got in, that equals about 50 minutes of extra activity for the day! And that is how us busy folks can find time to exercise.


Lack of time is the number one reason that most folks don't exercise. I find that my schedule gets rather busy too, and if I don't schedule exercise, it's possible to miss it. Scheduling is key to getting it done. If you had a doctor's appointment or a client appointment, you wouldn't just miss it, right? You should treat yourself as just as important. Each week, figure out where you need to be, and write into your schedule/planner/calendar your daily exercise. You'll be surprised how much that helps you fit it in.

This is a question of time management and prioritizing what is important to you. I fully understand that we lead busy lives and sometime get caught up in “the thick of thin things.” We often say,” I should workout.” But we often don’t prioritize exercise in relation to all the other things we do in the day. I understand, work is tough, the days are long, and it is even tougher when you have children BUT…

 My suggestion if you do not have a daily planner, GET ONE! I promise no matter what work you do, activities you are involved in, or chores you do on a daily basis; you will work better and be more effective with a daily planner that has the hours of the day broken down into 15 minute blocks. Then you can schedule everything you need to do, especially your workouts. After you see what you have to do each day on paper I am sure you can find some time for exercise. If not, prioritize your workouts and wake up earlier or go to bed a little later. The brutal facts are there, most major diseases can be prevented with proper exercise and healthy nutrition. Those who work out consistently live longer healthier lives. So next time you say, “I should work out.” Stop yourself and instead say, “I MUST workout.”
Judith Beck, PhD
If your schedule is already busy, you will need to identify activities that you can postpone, delegate, spend less time on, or eliminate. Time will not magically appear. Schedule times to exercise in your calendar. 
Darren Treasure, PhD
Sports Medicine
Having no time is one of the most common barriers–real and perceived–that you will have to overcome if you are to be successful.  Here are a few tips to help you find time to exercise:
  • Establish exercise as a priority; design a plan around your priorities; stick to the plan.
  • Exercise first thing in the morning before the demands of your day become too great
  • Break up your normal workout into shorter sessions. Instead of 30 minutes of continuous moderate physical activity, take three 10-minute walks.
  • Look for dead time when you could be active. For example, use the time you usually watch your child practice sport to walk or jog around the field. You can still watch your child but also get in some moderate physical activity.
  • Combine activities. Have walking meetings at work or walk on a treadmill while watching the news or your favorite show.
  • Share the load. Delegate household responsibilities with your spouse or children so that you have time to work out.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
SStart with 10 minutes of exercising in the morning and evening. If your life is so disorganized that you can’t find 10 minutes in the morning and evening then you have other problems than just not being able to exercise. Even Dr. Oz can find 10 minutes in the morning and evening to exercise, between emails to me, and tweets to the world.
Time is a big reason why people fail to reach their fitness goals.  You do not need fancy equipment or a lot of time to exercise.  Exercising can be as simple as running around and playing with your kids.  You need to decide how important exercising is to you.  What is your fitness goal?  Once you make it a priority you will find that you do have an extra ten minutes here and there to exercise.  If your goal is to do 30 minutes of exercise per day, try breaking that up into smaller 5-10 minute sessions throughout the day. 
Time is one of the biggest factors people give for not exercising. Although this is reality for people it's also about priority. Part of the process of finding time for exercise is being clear how you spend your time to see where there might be gaps of available time for exercise. Another part of the process is prioritizing. In life there are many priorities: work, family, friends, etc., but ask yourself what some of your other priorities are. If your priorities/values include health, movement and happiness then exercise would be a natural part of fulfilling those values. If this is the case then it's important to prioritize exercise into your daily life. 

Regardless, trying to find time to exercise is hard but here are a couple of tips to keep in mind. It may sound cliché but take the stairs, park a half-mile from your office, suggest that family time include physical activity or start a walking club during lunch at work. Think about how you can add a little bit of exercise into the things you already do. Try wearing a pedometer adding a few more steps everyday. 

Whatever you do make it fun and do it with someone whose company you enjoy. Both of these elements will make finding time to exercise much easier and much more pleasant.  
Robert S. Kaufmann, MD
Internal Medicine
Finding time to exercise depends a lot on your motivation. I exercise at 5:30 in the morning and am at work by 7:30. I made that decision because I want to spend time with my children in the evening. You can always squeeze in 10 minutes at different times. It does not say you have to do your 30 minutes all at once. Example is walking up 3 flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator. Look back on your day and identify times you could have done some type of exercise.

Prioritize: without your health you have nothing. Get up 10 minutes earlier and go to bed 10 minutes later. If you watch TV, exercise during your commercial breaks.

The real question is, how can you afford not to MAKE time for exercise?

A time journal is a good way to find out how you are spending your time so you can figure out where you have gaps of time. Some of those gaps of time can be used for exercise.

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.