Fitting in Fitness: Finding Time to Exercise

Sharon Rekieta, Fitness and Wellness Director - 5th April 2013

Despite the numerous physical and psychological benefits of physical activity, many people do not exercise.  When asked why not, the most common answer given for being inactive was: not enough time.  This seems justifiable and since so many cite time as a major problematic barrier, it must be difficult to overcome.  Fortunately, lack of time is within the control of the individual!  And, by being under an individual’s control, solutions can be found. If “lack of time” plays havoc with your exercise schedule, try one or some of the following hints to fit fitness into your life.

Prioritize. Don't let errands and your workday sidetrack your fitness pursuits and instead, look for ways to add physical activity to your typical daily routine.  Also, schedule your activity into your day planner or on your calendar as you would any other important appointment and don’t change your plans just because something comes up.  Remind yourself that exercise is a priority.

Exercise first thing in the morning.  Wake up 30 minutes earlier and use the extra time to walk on your treadmill or take a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Some research suggests that people who exercise in the morning are more likely to be consistent and adhere to their fitness program.

If possible, walk or ride a bike to work.  If that’s not feasible, walk part of your commute by getting off the subway or exiting the bus several blocks early.

Walk the stairs in your building or walk the parking lot on your lunch break.  Ask one or some of your colleagues to join you—the buddy system is an effective way to adhere to your plan.

Schedule "walking meetings” or plan activities as a department team-building exercise.

Think of household chores and yard work as “exercise in disguise.”  Mop the floors, scrub the tubs and dust the shelves at a pace fast enough to increase your heart rate.  Mowing the lawn, raking leaves and pulling weeds are a great way to burn calories, strengthen your arms and legs, and tighten your abdomen.
Be active while watching TV.  During commercials, perform strength work exercises such as squats and lunges, pushups and situps, and curls and presses.  During the show it’s time for cardio—walk or jog on the treadmill or ride a stationary bike.

Plan active outings with your family. Take group walks before or after dinner, or play catch or participate in team sports. Ride your bikes to the park, zoo or other destinations.

Get your dog into the act. Take daily walks with Fido or Fluffy. If you don't have a dog, borrow one. An enthusiastic dog may give you the motivation you need to lace up your walking shoes.

Get social. You may do better with the encouragement of others. Try a dance club, hiking group or golf league.

Join a team. Sign up for a softball, soccer or volleyball team through your company or through your local parks and recreation department. Making a commitment to a team is a great motivator.

Find a fitness club. Sign up for a group exercise class at a nearby fitness club. The cost may be an incentive to stick with it.

Plan active outings. Make a date with a friend to hike in a local park, or take a family trip to the zoo.

Be active while running errands. When you go to the mall or grocery store, park toward the back of the lot and walk the extra distance. If you have a little extra time, walk inside for a lap or two before you start shopping. Keep a pair of walking shoes in your car so that you're ready when you find a few minutes for exercise.

Remember that everyone is different and what works for you might not be the best plan for your spouse or best friend.  Consider the above suggestions and implement what makes sense and seems the most enjoyable.  There's no single best way to fit physical activity into your day. Your lifestyle, job and family responsibilities will point to the most convenient time and place for fitness. Do what works for you — and make daily physical activity a habit you keep. 

Eventually, you’ll find numerous ways to easily fit fitness into your day.