Most of us struggle with making time for exercise from time to time. When your inbox is out of control, your boss wants to schedule another 6 p.m. meeting, your kids need to be bathed, fed, and chauffeured around, and you haven’t had a full conversation with your significant other in weeks – that’s when your run, spin class, or date with your yoga mat is probably the first thing to get scrapped from your daily to-do list.
But it’s exactly during those times, when you feel like you’re running out of time (instead of, for example, running), your workout becomes more important than ever. Not just if you’re working toward a goal or training for a race, but because even 20 minutes of physical activity can drastically improve your mood, mindset, and overall well-being. (And that’s good for you, your boss, your kids, and your significant other.)
So how to make time for exercise when life feels crazy? Here are nine ways to keep your workouts in the rotation, no matter how busy you are.
1. Embrace the run commute
“To make time for exercise, I have embraced a really crazy run-to-work plan,” says Marisa Cummings, who works in investment banking and has an unpredictable and exhausting schedule.
When I lived 6.5 miles from my office in Manhattan, I would run commute – sometimes in both directions. I was a member at a gym right next to my office, so every Sunday night, I would pack a week’s worth of clothes and keep them in a locker at the gym all week. Then I’d run home on Monday, making sure I kept certain shoes, cardigans, and coats at the gym.
Then I would run into work the rest of the week, showering and changing at the gym – and still getting to my desk by 6:45 A.M. I’d occasionally double to get extra miles in during training seasons.
I only messed it up twice: once when I forgot a bra, and another time when I arrived at the gym and it was locked. I had to go all the way home to change – 25 minutes on the subway – and then go all the way back downtown.”
2. Keep your workout clothes handy at all times
“As a journalist who’s on the road a lot working a haphazard schedule, I always keep a pair of running shoes and some clothes in my car,” says Garret Woodward.
“That way, wherever I am, I can get a run in. Plus, it’s fun, because you never know where you may end up running and what you’ll see along the way. It can be hard to make the time, but there’s also fun in that challenge, even if it’s just 20 minutes.”
3. Run your errands
“I like to literally run errands,” says writer Megan Harrington. “I’ll often put my son in the stroller and run the 1.25 miles to his daycare, and then I run home with an empty stroller. I also run to the post office and the grocery store.”
4. Schedule your workouts like you schedule your meetings
“I make time for exercise by putting my workouts on my calendar and scheduling my day around them,” says Jenna Deutsch. “That way I have to get to them.”
5. Sweat while your kids are sweating
“I run during my kids’ activities,” says Gia Alvarez. “I’ll run circles around the hockey rink or do an out-and-back from the ballet studio. If they’re getting their fitness on, I should, too!”
6. Get up even earlier
“I do all my workouts before my son wakes up,” says Sara Colodner. “My husband and I trade off days so he’s there in the morning in case our son wakes up early, and then we tag each other out when I get home.
It’s also good because it makes me feel guilty if I ‘waste’ one of my workout days since then my husband could have worked out.”
7. Join the most convenient gym possible
“For years I resented having to pay for a gym membership in my building on top of my rent, but it was the best decision ever,” says Jessica Derschowitz. “Even when it’s cold or rainy or I just don’t have a ton of time, I can ride the elevator straight to the gym and I’m on a treadmill.”
8. Make it a date
“My husband and I schedule running dates at night,” says Grace Henderson Hartman. “We get a babysitter, do our long runs together, and finish with margaritas and tacos at a restaurant near our apartment.”
9. Master your mindset
“Think of working out as something enjoyable,” says running coach Patrick Hammond. “Never think of it as something you have to do, but instead as something you want to do. This has worked for me for the past 24 years.”
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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.