We all start the week with a great plan. Work hard, play harder, eat better, workout every day. And maybe we even make it all the way to Wednesday with our good intentions. But usually, Tuesday morning finds us rushing to that early meeting with a triple espresso in one hand, a donut in the other, and our brilliant plan is already out the window.
Fitting exercise into a busy schedule can be difficult even for the most fitness focused people. For those of us who need a little extra motivation, a busy schedule means almost certain death for any consistent exercise routine. But all is not yet lost! There are ways to fit consistent workouts into even the busiest of schedules.
The first place to fit exercise into your schedule is at home. There are many ways to incorporate simple workouts and effective exercises while doing everyday work at home. Being creative is the most crucial part of finding the time to workout at home.
Housework is a perfect opportunity to sneak in a few calorie burning moves. When vacuuming the house, take deep lunge steps to stretch your legs. As you wash the dishes, do short squats as you load the dishwasher and calf raises while you stand at the sink. The same goes for cooking dinner, do lunges across the kitchen to gather your ingredients. Be sure you are making a healthy meal!
Other chores can become short-term exercises as well. A quick walk through the grocery store, hustling up the stairs, squatting to pick up the laundry and toys around the house, and being extra active while washing your car or doing yard work. Of course playing with the kids and walking the dog are also great ways to get active and burn calories with activities you are already doing and even need to increase.
Do not forget about television time either. Even if you spend your evenings watching television to relax, you can be active during your favorite shows. Stand and run in place during commercials, or do simple yoga moves while enjoying your favorite programs. Incorporating exercise into your everyday home routine helps to form consistent habits and soon you will find yourself starting to stretch without having to think about planning it into your schedule.
But for working people, home is often the place you spend the least of your time. So how do you work some exercises into your business activities? In much the same way as at home, incorporating a few small exercises throughout the day can help you burn extra calories even on days when you do not have the time for a full workout.
If possible, add in some exercise on your way to work. Leave a bit earlier and walk or bike to the office instead of driving. If you live too far away for this to be a possibility, park at the farthest end of the parking lot to get in some quick walking on the way into and out of the office. Or, if you are a train or bus commuter, hop off a stop early and finish the journey to work on foot to grab those extra steps. Brisk walking is a great way to get your heart rate up and rev up your body to start burning calories.
Take full advantage of your lunch break. Far too often, we get sucked into working straight through lunch. Our lunch break tends to take the form of a five minute run to the vending machine or the nearest fast food joint, and then eating quickly at our desk between calls, emails, and meetings. Obviously, this habit is not a healthy one and needs to be broken. To add another short workout to your day, take back your lunch break! Pack or purchase a healthy lunch and perhaps choose to walk to a farther location for lunch. If leaving the office is impossible, grab your headset and do your phone calls while walking through the halls. Complete your emails on your phone while you do lunges around the cubicles. Some companies have an in-house gym or workout room that is open to employees. If you have the resources available, take advantage of them! Take a few minutes to stretch and lift some light weights. Be sure to have an extra set of workout cloths to change into if you will be doing any strenuous work.
But lunch is only one of possibly ten to twelve hours you might be spending at the office. During the other work hours, burn extra calories by doing simple stretches at your desk. During phone calls, stand rather than sit if possible. In order to continue working normally and still get in a little exercise (and if you are allowed to change your office a little) purchase an exercise ball chair. This allows you to work on posture, core, and balance while still sitting at your desk. A few other simple stretches can help to increase energy without ever leaving your chair. These include:
- Hand Stretches: Stretch your arm out in front of you, pointing your fingers to the ground. Use your other hand to deepen the stretch, then point your fingers toward the ceiling and deepen the stretch again. Switch hands and repeat on the other side.
- Shoulder Shrugs: Help keep your neck and shoulders loose by doing simple shoulder shrugs, up and down, to release tension and stretch your muscles.
- Arm Circles: Start with small arm circles, fists closed and arms in front of you. Gradually make larger and larger circles as you move your arms out toward your sides. (If you do these while on a phone call, no one will know the difference! Multitasking is your new exercise best friend.)
- Leg Stretches: Loosen tight leg muscles by stretching your legs out and pointing your toes up and down. Repeat for both legs.
Do not forget to take advantage of interoffice space. Rather than sending an email to your colleague who works in the same building (especially if they are on the same floor) take a few moments to walk over to that coworker’s desk and pass along the message personally. The added walking will help to increase your daily step count, which experts say should be around 10,000 steps a day.
In general, there are a few organizational tips to keep in mind to help maximize the few precious minutes you are able to spare for working out in the midst of your busy schedule. Remember to switch up your workouts and exercises. Make the workouts fun, not work. Even the most dedicated of us can lose interest with too much of the same workout. When you have a longer block of time (half an hour for example, rather than five minutes), incorporate short high intensity training (HIT) sessions. Even short workouts have the ability to boost your metabolism and help keep up your consistency. Find an accountability partner to help you track your workouts and progress. Having someone else with similar goals working alongside you will help keep your motivation levels high.
Above all, be purposeful with your time. Every minute counts in a busy schedule, and finding the time to fit in purposeful workouts will boost your energy, metabolism, and self-esteem. You will know that you are doing what is right for your body and your time all at once. What more could a busy person ask for?