Practical Advice for Making Time to Workout

Where there’s a will, there is most definitely a way. No matter what your job, you can always carve out a little slice of time for yourself to exercise. Planning your workout ahead of time, no matter how short or long it may be, is half the battle of actually doing it. Leaving a workout up to chance allows excuses to creep in—“I’m too tired,” “I should really do X, Y, or Z instead”—while mapping it out dedicates a specific space and time to YOU, which is just as important for your long-term health and success as nearly anything else you could be doing then anyways.

Plan out your week in advance. Take 10 minutes whenever you have it, but preferably on the Sunday before the work week starts, to map out your workouts. Take a piece of printer paper, a page in a journal, or whatever you’ve got, and draw yourself a chart with a box for every day of the week. Know that this Thursday is going to be especially busy? This lets you work around that—move your longer workout to a different day. Commit to any fitness classes you want to attend before or after work, or write down which days you’ll head to the gym, track, studio, or trail. Be sure you’ve got a little variety in the intensity of your routine—i.e. don’t schedule your two longest runs of the week on back-to-back days. Have a rest day or active recovery day which includes easy cross-training. Put your weekly schedule in a special place where you can find it and see it.

Find what you love and mix it up! Be sure your workout is something you actually enjoy! Find an activity you truly love, whether this is a Zumba class, lifting weights on your own, or going for a walk during the lunch break. Also be sure to give each activity a chance! (Everyone out there who says they hate running has not run consistently for a long enough period of time—or they need orthotics or better running shoes!) Variety can prevent your routine from ever being monotonous, as can having a friend accompany you to the gym. Figure out what works for you—whether this is a balance of fitness classes and nature trails, a room full of fellow exercisers on spin bikes, or being peacefully alone on the track after a long day of work.

Make the most of your time. When constructing your weekly workouts, know when you’ll have bigger and smaller chunks of time available and make the most of these accordingly. Plan bigger workouts when you have more time, or plan on tacking on bonus core work on the day you know you don’t have to be home from the gym by a specific time. Alternatively, on your busier days, do what you need to do to still get a workout in—sometimes this might just be 15 minutes of yoga right when you wake up. Make your workouts a reward within your week. For example, if you know you especially dread Monday mornings, plan a Monday workout that you’ll really enjoy. If you are working with a somewhat unpredictable schedule, have a set of workouts from which to draw during the week—come up with a bodyweight or medicine ball circuit to do in your living room. Figure out what the limitations or strengths of your particular schedule are, and find a way to work around or with them.

Have a goal in mind. Know why you’re working out, whether you just want to lead a healthier lifestyle or are training for a specific half marathon in April. You don’t necessarily have to write this down, but know within your heart what you’re training towards.

Log your workouts. A training log can be a really satisfying tool! I love writing down my workouts—it almost feels like the act of writing them down is part of actually doing them, or makes them real. It is also very enjoyable to look back on a month’s worth (or more!) of workouts to see what you’ve accomplished! Make this fun. Use some cool pens or markers, and include as little or as much detail as you want. Buy a nice journal that you find writing in pleasant!

Life is too short to waste time! Plan your workouts so they can make you happier and healthier and enhance (and probably lengthen) your life. With a mindful and creative approach to your individual schedule, you may find that your jam-packed weeks actually allow for a good bit of exercise. Along the way, you may also find your newly planned workouts give you more energy and zest to handle the rest of your crazy non-workout day too.