In a perfect world, we would all move our bodies consistently every single day, but most of us don't have time to make it to the gym without fail. Luckily, even if your schedule is jam-packed, there are still a number of ways you can find time to exercise — it just takes a little planning to make sure you're prepared to get active no matter where you are. Your workouts don't have to be hour-long cardio sessions at the gym, so finding pockets of time to get moving should be your main focus.
"Although people skip their workouts for a variety of reasons including sickness, lack of motivation, or gym intimidation, perhaps the most common excuse is that 'I just don’t have time,'" says trainer Robbie Davis, founder of GameShape, Inc. over email. "Unfortunately, while putting off exercise for other priorities may seem necessary now, doing so could lead to negative long-term health effects down the line. Remember that you ultimately make time for the things you value, so put value in your health."
If you find that you have a hard time prioritizing your workouts, try these 11 tips to help you find time to exercise, despite your busy schedule.
1. Schedule It In
By scheduling your workouts ahead of time you’ll be much less likely to brush them off when you get a last minute text about dinner plans or a playdate," says Davis. "Treat exercise like any other important appointment you can’t miss by writing it in pen on your calendar or scheduling it in your phone."
2. Make It Social
If spending time with friends and family normally consists of going out to eat or sitting in front of the TV, suggest making your social time more active by planning activities that get everybody moving," says Davis. "Throw a football around outside, head to the park for a fun afternoon picnic, or explore a local nature trail—exercise is always more fun as a group!"
3. Give Yourself A Reward
If you need some incentive to make it to the gym, set up a system that rewards you for reaching your goals. "Work out five times a week and earn a weekly reward," says Keoni Hudoba, renowned trainer and fitness expert for vitafusion over email. "Give yourself that guilty pleasure...for working so hard."
4. Wake Up Early
"While it may be challenging at first, setting your alarm clock an hour ahead can help you cross your workout off your To-Do list before your day even starts," says Davis. "If you’re having difficulty getting out of bed, try wearing your workout clothes to sleep so all you have to do is throw on your sneakers and go."
5. Do Different Things
Dreading your workout or feeling bored by your routine might deter you from hitting the gym. "Don't just stay in one lane," says Hudoba. "Cross train your body and try new workouts. Your body gets use to certain things so constantly switch it up."
6. Change Your Commute
"A great way to fit consistent exercise into your life is by incorporating it into your transportation routine," says Davis. "Consider biking to work or walking to a bus stop that's an extra few blocks away. If you have to commute via car, make sure to park as far away as you can to get your heart pumping before you get to your desk."
7. Work Out Efficiently
"Whether you’re traveling or getting home late from the office, there are plenty of workout forms that accomplish significant physical gains in a short period of time like high-intensity interval training or Tabata training," says Davis. Research from McMaster University shows that even doing just 10 minutes of exercise — with one minute of all-out exertion — is equivalent to 45 minutes of moderate exercise.
8. Hold Yourself Accountable
Holding yourself accountable by putting money into the equation can have some powerful effects. Put money into a jar each time you workout, or sign up for a website that pays you each time you go to the gym or charges you when you skip it. A study from the journal Econometrica found that paying people to go to the gym doubles their attendance.
9. Work Out At Your Desk
Working out is easy if you don't have to go anywhere. Sneak in exercise at work by doing desk stretches, standing instead of sitting, and doing abdominal exercises in your chair.
10. Make Use Of Spare Time
"Even if you have 10-minutes before work in the morning, or a 30-minute lunch break, get your body moving and blood flowing," says Hudoba. Doing something quickly is better than doing nothing throughout the day, and those minutes combined can make a difference.
11. Just Keep Moving
"Every little bit adds up, so move every chance you can," says Davis. "Park in the farthest spot from the entrance at the grocery store and try using a basket instead of a cart if you only need to grab a few items. If there’s a long wait at the dentist’s office, walk around the building."
The more you make exercising a priority, the easier it will be to slip into the habit of working out throughout the week.
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