Fitting Exercise Into A Busy Schedule

June 29, 2015

Time is arguably the most valuable commodity around, more precious than any amount of gold or oil. Many of us wish we had more time and there are a lot of demands on this scare resource. Unfortunately, when time is in short supply, the first casualty is often your workout.

Here are some great ways to make the most of your time so that you never need to miss a workout again – regardless of how busy you are.

1. Exercise at home

An hour workout can take about two hours out of your day by the time you drive to the gym , get changed, wait for the machines you want to use, chat at the water cooler, grab a shower and then get hung up in traffic on your way home. That’s a whole lot of wasted time!

However, you can avoid a lot of those problems by skipping the gym altogether and exercising at home.

All you need is a few square yards of space, some resistance bands, a jump rope and an exercise mat and you can have a great workout in 30-minutes flat and there won’t be a queue for the showers either!

If you want a more involving workout, you could invest in some home workout weights, a suspension trainer like a TRX or even buy a cross trainer or exercise bike but really, this is not essential. In fact, you can get in great shape using nothing more than your bodyweight.

The bottom line: If going to the gym takes too much time out of your day, do your workout at home instead.

2. Try interval training

Cardio is important for the health of your heart and lungs as well as your fitness. However, the fitter you get, the more you need to do and that can be problematic when time is against you. If, for example, you can run comfortably for an hour, your next step is to run for an hour and five minutes and then an hour and ten and who has time for that?!

Rather than increasing your cardio workout duration, try increasing the intensity of your workouts instead by doing interval training.

Simply put, interval training involves alternating short periods of high intensity exercise with brief, low intensity, periods of rest e.g. sprint for 30 seconds and jog for 90 seconds. This raises the average intensity of your workout and allows you to get great results in much less time.

Interval training can involve virtually any type of cardio workout from cycling to swimming, running to rowing – so long as you can alternate high and low intensity effort, it’ll work.

Twenty to thirty minutes of interval training is easily comparable to 60 minutes of lower intensity exercise which makes interval training very time efficient indeed. It’s also a great calorie burner and will drive your metabolic rate sky-high, not only during your workout but for several hours afterward.

3. Walk as much as you can

Exercise is important but, when time is against you, sometimes you might not be able to do as much as you want. However, that does not mean you have to be sedentary. If you can’t fit a workout into your schedule, make sure you do your utmost to walk as much as you can during the day. Walking burns calories, keeps oxygenated blood pumping around your body and provides your heart and lungs with a low-level but still beneficial workout.

Walking opportunities include:

  • Walking to/from work or school
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Walking your kids to school
  • Taking your dog for a walk
  • Having walking meetings instead of boardroom meetings
  • Take a walk at lunch time or after dinner
  • Walk to speak to colleagues/friends instead of emailing or phoning them

With a little effort, you should be able to clock up between 5,000 and 10,000 steps per day which will contribute greatly to your health and wellbeing.

4. Focus more on exercise intensity and less on duration

Whether it’s running junk miles or doing more sets and exercises than you need to, you probably waste a lot of time focusing on the volume/duration of exercise and less on quality and intensity. That can add up to a whole lot of wasted time.

In almost all cases, short but intense workouts deliver the same or better results than easier, longer workouts. For example, doing a single set of strength training to the point of momentary muscular failure is every bit as beneficial as doing several lower intensity sets and you already know that interval training trumps steady paced cardio for saving time.

Pick up the pace, cut down on the duration and save yourself some serious time but make sure you don’t use sloppy technique in the name of a faster workout!

5. Multi task

Strength training inevitably involves a lot of standing around as you rest between sets – what a waste of valuable time! Instead of just clock watching or updating your social media status during your rest periods, look for ways to make the most of this down time. You could:

  • Start warming up for your next exercise
  • Do a quick set of jump rope
  • Stretch to save time at the end of your workout
  • Do an exercise for a different muscle group or body part
  • Do a quick set of crunches or planks

Not only will this save you valuable time, you’ll also elevate your heart rate which will deliver a beneficial cardio workout and increase the calorie cost of your workout.

Lack of time doesn’t have to mean that you don’t have time to exercise. In fact, short workouts are often more effective because they force you to focus and exercise with a level of intensity and urgency that might be otherwise missing when time is plentiful. Remember, even the shortest workout is better than no workout at all and if all you can find is ten minutes, then make that ten minutes count!

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