You are swamped at work. You've been eating a Cracker Jack's for lunch every day this week because you haven't had time to go grocery shopping. The kids are hungry/grumpy/cold/needy in some other way. You haven't peed in 17 hours. How the hell are you going to find time to work out?!
I get it. Life is hectic. Always. You know how important your health is, but how can you justify a 30 minute run when you haven't had time to cook anything other than TV dinners. I'm here to give you a few ways to fit exercise in to your busy life, no matter how busy you are! Some of the tips help you to find the motivation to commit, while other little tips to sprinkle in throughout the day to increase overall health. Pick and choose which tips work for you, or do them all!
- Schedule It! Seems simple enough, but if you pencil pen it into your day, you may be more likely to commit to it, like you would a doctor's appointment or important meeting. Even better, sign up for a class ahead of time, at a certain time, so that you are even MORE motivated to go (either because it seems that much more of an appointment, or because you already paid and don't want to lose your $20).
- Walk It Off. Depending on your job, you may be eating lunch at your desk. Why don't you take time during your lunch break to walk, or otherwise exercise. If you have a 60 minute lunch break, taking 30 minutes to jog around the neighborhood (or even your Office Park) will help you meet your goal for daily exercise. Jogging not your thing? Maybe you get too sweaty during cardio exercises and find it difficult to head back to the office after a sweat-sesh. It doesn't have to be anything strenuous - it can be a walk or some light yoga. Anything that gets your otherwise stationary body moving is great for your overall health.
- Healthy Commute. Drive to work? Park your car in a spot a little further than usual. May seem small, but every step counts (literally). Maybe you have the luxury of biking or even walking to work on days where it is nice out. Do that! Do you take the subway or bus to work? Get off a stop or two (or more) before your regular stop to get some extra walking in. In the same vein, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Incorporate any and all opportunities for an increase of movement - you'll be glad you did.
- Get Up, Stand Up. Stand up for your health. (see what I did there?)Wake up a little bit earlier each morning to incorporate some exercise. Start slow. Maybe you wake up only 15 minutes early in the beginning. Maybe you only are able to stand doing stretches at first. That's okay. You are building a habit that will increase your exercise overall, and your tolerance to that early morning light.
- Play Out! Instead of looking at exercise as a "work out" look at it as a "play out." Have fun with it and incorporate the kids! Head to the park and play tag. Go for a bike ride with the family. If you aren't self-conscious, while your kiddos climb the structure, you can be doing squats near the bench, wall push-ups along the fence, or crunches on the grass. You don't have to compromise exercise when you get the whole family involved.
- Turn It Up with HIIT. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, are exercises that keep your heart rate up with quick bursts of exercise, followed by short active recovery, that burns more calories and fat in less time. People who are strained on time like incorporating HIIT exercises because they can still get the benefits of exercise (weight loss, increased stamina, heart health, etc.) without spending hours at the gym. Click here for more on HIIT workouts.
- Be a Goal Setter. Set a goal that you can stick to. Be specific and realistic. Don't set an arbitrary goal like "lose weight" or "exercise more". Choose a measurable goal such as "Exercise for 30 minutes 3 times a week" or "Go to Spin class every Friday for a month." That way, you'll know exactly if you met your goal, when you met your goal. What will make this even more motivating? See #8.
- Take Data! As a former teacher and current behavior analyst, I love me some data. I love taking data on my client's progress with meeting their behavioral goals, but I also love to do this for my own personal goals. It doesn't have to be elaborate. It can be as simple as checking off days on a calendar to show which days you made it to the gym. It could be graphing your weight loss. Anything that is visual and keeps you objective and on track is so helpful in making meaningful changes. Don't forget the rewards for reaching your goals! (Just maybe not like, German Chocolate Cake...)
- Make a Date! One of the most helpful things for me when I'm trying to get back into an exercise routine is to make an exercise date with someone. If someone is counting on me to meet them at Zumba, you best believe I'll be there. How embarrassing will it be if I bail?! Recently, a friend and I have been texting each other in the mornings before work to motivate the other to get up early and exercise. Having a partner to help support you is unlike any other motivator for me.
- Do What You Love. This is the biggest tip I can give you. If you hate doing the elliptical, you probably aren't going to do it, especially if you are just starting to exercise now. To get yourself into the routine of exercising regularly, do something you can't wait to do. My favorite activity? Soccer! I am lucky to have multiple leagues in my area to join, and am currently on 3 different teams. That's three different games a week. Three days with exercise already added to it. I NEVER want to skip soccer (which can be a blessing and a curse - especially if I'm injured) so it's so easy for me to get my active minutes in when that's on the horizon. Find something you love. Maybe a class at the gym, a team sport in your area, or even yoga at home. Check your local YMCAs or fitness centers for gym classes, workshops or sport's leagues. Once you find an activity that keeps you move that you love, you'll never choose the couch again.