Health / Expert Advice

5 Tips for Sneaking in Exercise When You’re Just Too Busy

Try these expert-approved strategies for sneaking in exercise even on your busiest days.

We all have those days when we’re too busy and worn out by our jam-packed schedules that we decide not to work out. There’s nothing wrong with cutting back in certain areas so that we’re not stressed to the max. However, our health and well-being shouldn’t fall by the wayside even when we’re super-busy, according to experts, and sneaking in exercise may be easier than you think.  “Yes, there will be days when a workout is not possible. But over the course of a week, pretty much everyone can make time for exercise,” says Tatiana Boncompagni, fitness instructor, mother of three, and creator of Sculptologie. “When you say you’re too busy to do something, what you really mean is, ‘This thing is not a priority to me.’ But your health and well-being should be of top priority.”

It’s worth noting that when we do cut out exercise, we tend to feel less energetic, less productive, and more tired than when we manage to sneak it in even on the busiest of days. If you’re looking to fit fitness back into your full schedule, here’s how the experts recommend going about it.

1. Commit to it.

This is far easier said than done. But the saying “showing up is half the battle” has some merit to it. This phrase essentially means that committing to your fitness regimen is the hardest part. Once you’re on the treadmill or hitting the pavement, it’s easy to continue moving forward. Eraldo Maglara, celebrity trainer and host of Healthy Lifestyle with Eraldo TV, explains that one of the most popular reasons for not exercising is simply a lack of commitment, both physically and mentally. “Individuals who take the time to map out a weekly schedule of their activity are more likely to stay, maintain, and achieve their fitness goals,” he says. “Moreover, with the overabundance of technology all around us—e.g., phones, iPads, fitness watches—our excuses should be nonexistent.”

2. Wake up early.

This one isn’t all that fun, especially for those non-morning people. But it’s true that you reap more benefits from working out in the morning than any other time of day. Not only does a morning workout ensure that you lock in your fitness for the day, but research also shows that morning workouts, when performed before breakfast, may burn more fat than working out at other times of the day. “Setting your alarm to go off earlier than your usual time will allow you to get that workout in before you get started with your day,” Maglara says. An effective trick he uses for himself is to set his clock 37 minutes ahead of the current time. “While I’m subconsciously aware of the time difference, early in the morning my thought process is simplified, allowing me to focus on one thing and one thing only: exercise!”

3. Work out at work.

The concept of working out at the office may have been a silly proposition years ago. However, Maglara points out that the concept is no longer a fantasy but a totally realistic scenario. “All you need is your creativity, determination, and the willingness to get the job done,” he says. “For example, during your lunch break skip the elevators and opt for the stairs instead.” He also recommends turning your office furniture into a gym. “Exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and tricep dips are among the most practical in an office setting,” he adds. Small breaks for exercise add up throughout the day. You can work your way up to a 30-minute workout by the end of the day.

4. Walk to work.

Most people consider a workout to be an hour-long, high-intensity exercise session. However, it really doesn’t have to be this way. Walking for even 20 or 30 minutes counts as a workout. Don’t have time to walk? Sneak it into your daily routine. “Instead of taking your regular mode of transportation to work, if you live close enough why not just walk?” says Caleb Backe, certified personal trainer and health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. “Walking might not feel like a strenuous activity, but it improves heart health and regulates your blood pressure. Plus, you’ll arrive to work calm, collected, and energized.”

5. Take the stairs.

Whether it’s taking the stairs out of the subway or walking the five flights in your office building, Backe points out that there’s always a quick fix to getting in those extra five minutes of exercise. “It might not seem like much, but a couple flights of stairs is better than standing still in an elevator,” he says. “It actually burns more calories than jogging! Don’t consider yourself a runner? Just take the stairs, and your daily health kick is in full swing.”

Fitness is oftentimes the first thing we cut out when we’re feeling overwhelmed or too busy. But sneaking in exercise in small ways throughout the day is an easy way to add movement to your weeks even when your calendar is packed.

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