Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Finding time to work out

There’s a big difference between knowing and doing. 

Health experts tell us we should be working out 4 days a week for at least 30 minutes. Are most people doing that? Nope. Heck, was I doing that about 2 months ago? No way! I knew I should, but I didn't.

When I was in undergrad, I went to the gym with my friends and was working out consistently… then things piled up and I gave up going to the gym in order to focus on other activities and looming deadlines. When you’re experiencing stress, one of the best things to do is go work out (as it’s a natural form of stress relief), but I viewed exercise as something taking up my time.

So how can a busy person find time to work out?

Schedules, schedules, schedules! Anyone who knows me personally (and especially anyone who has seen my planner in the last year) understands that I'm a big fan of planning. But you don't need to love planning every detail of your day in order to implement some techniques that will make sure you have time to work out!

Here are some of the techniques I have been using so that I can have that extra time in my schedule to head to the gym, work out, and get home.
  • Multi-tasking is your friend when working on things around the house. For example, while waiting for water to boil on the stove, don't just wait around and stare at the pot or sit down and play a round of computer solitaire, do something productive like cleaning or folding laundry
  • Have consistent (or as consistent as possible) bedtimes and waking times. This will keep you rested and ready to take on your day. For me, waking up at a consistent time makes the once brutally early alarm on the workout days not as brutal, because that time is now my "normal" time to wake up each day.
  • Make priority lists each day for work/school tasks that must be done that day and focus on getting those tasks accomplished first. This prevents you working on "someday" activities for most of the day and then being crunched for time at the end of the day, which may cause you to stay up late or skip your work out in the morning to get the work done.
  • Flexibility - Don't make a schedule so rigid that recovering from a timing setback is impossible. Life is unpredictable!
  • Relaxation - At minimum, give yourself at least 15 minutes a day to relax and not feel guilty about taking time away from things that "need to be done NOW!" When I am holed up working on anything, I try to give myself an intentional break of at least 15 minutes once every two hours so that I can regroup and refocus. Refocusing on an activity with a good frame of mind after a planned break is better than powering through, losing focus, and wasting time.

What do you do in order to make sure you get your workout in during your busy day?


  1. I have to do it first thing in the morning. 4am sometimes. Because even if there will be time in the afternoon/evening (and there usually isn't) by the time I get home from work, I find every excuse in the book not to workout.

  2. I especially like the last point about relaxing. And not just because that's my favorite part of the whole process! But I think it's soooo important, because when I used to be really hardcore about getting in to shape, I never did that - I was always concentrating on my run, my schoolwork, my job, etc., to the point where I started hated everything, so I gave up the one part that wasn't a necessity (the workout). Maybe the relaxation part would make a world of difference.