5 ways to fit exercise into a busy schedule

TBooked and busy season. Between preparing for the holidays, meeting year-end deadlines at work, trying to attend all the events and everything in between, our schedules are packed to the brim. As a personal trainer, one of the things I see take a back seat is people’s fitness routines. Finding a way to exercise in a busy schedule can feel almost impossible.

We know that working out is important for both our mental and physical health. Yet when our appointment books start looking like a great American novel, exercise usually doesn’t rank so high on our priority list.

But let me tell you something: You don’t actually have to devote that much time to your day to reap the benefits of exercise. The key is to slip in more movement whenever you can. Here are five tricks I give my clients—and use myself.

1. Do it now

There’s a quote (probably from a meme) I once read that has always stuck with me: “I like to practice before my brain realizes what I’m doing.”

The longer I wait into my day, the easier it is for me to back out of a workout: my schedule fills up and I come up with more excuses. But if I roll out of bed and go straight to my workout, I get it done, and by midday it’s a distant memory.

Whether you’re a morning person or not, most of us find exercise easier if we do it first. In a review of research done by Exercise and Sports Science Review, the authors found that “coherent morning exercise may facilitate exercise levels by increasing planning, building exercise habits, and improving self-regulation.” The more often you do your morning walk, the more likely you are to stick with it.

2. Hang out with friends

Hot girl walks have been all the rage this year, and you don’t have to do them alone. Something I recently implemented with my best friend is the “coffee walk” – basically a hot girl walk, plus caffeine. We’ll walk to a local coffee shop, then hang out around the neighborhood while we enjoy our drinks.

Instead of meeting your buds for brunch, see if you can plan an activity to do together. While walking is a good option, you can try organizing a tennis match, a kickball game, an ice skating trip, or, really, anything that gets your blood pumping. Even holiday shopping can do the trick.

A study from Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise It has been found that when adults participate in physical activity with friends, it may not be as vigorous, but they tend to do it for longer. Especially during the holiday season when you’re just trying to incorporate more movement into your day, this is even more important that You move more than how intensely you move.

3. Walk more wherever you are

Even if you don’t go for a dedicated “Hot Girl Walk,” increasing your steps throughout the day is an easy way to work in more activity. Even short walks have benefits. Experts recommend that you get at least 7,500 steps per day, but really the goal is to move more in general.

Take the stairs whenever you can, park further from your destination, return your shopping cart to the store (you might even get good karma for it), pace around while taking calls. Or try one of my favorite tricks from when I worked in the corporate world: use the bathroom on the top floor of your building. If you’re as hydrated as you are, you’re probably taking a lot more steps!

4. Slip in exercise snacks

Just as a banana or nut can be a much-needed midday pick-me-up (no hangovers here), so can an “exercise snack.” These bite-sized workouts can be just one to 10 minutes long. Maybe you’re waiting for your coffee to brew or a meeting to start—so let’s go! You can try marching in place, calf raises, jumping jacks, squats, burpees or quick dance breaks.

You don’t even need to break a sweat. The goal is to increase your overall activity level with short bursts throughout your day to get your blood flowing and prevent sedentary behavior. And just like its dietary counterpart, an exercise snack can also give you an energy boost.

How about a quick boxing routine?

5. Write it down

One of the things I find most helpful is scheduling my workouts in my planner. It’s much easier to commit if I see it as a meeting I can’t cancel. We have this mindset around our jobs, so why not treat our bodies with the same respect?

Exercise is a wonderful self-care tool, and as life gets busier, it’s even more important to find time in our day to do it. Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Well, one thing I always tell my clients is to drink until your cup is full. Once it’s done, it goes into your saucer. The goal is to serve from your saucer, not your cup. That way your cup stays full and you are still able to give to others. Everyone wins.

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