How to squeeze in exercise… when you’re short on time
We hear it regularly from our clients … “I have NO TIME!”. When it feels like you are being pulled in one hundred different directions, how on earth can you possibly find the time to:
- Get 10,000 steps in
- Wake up at 5 am to go to your spin class
- Pop by the gym after work
Time scarcity is real. And we’re here to tell you, you are not alone. In fact, 48% of Americans today say they don’t have enough time. It’s hard, especially as women, to juggle everything society demands of us.
So today, we’d like to share some tips on how you can get your exercise in, when you’re short on time.
Tip #1: Habit Stacking
This was a popular term coined by the brilliant Steve Scott. It’s defined as “ the art of combining your current habits with ones you want to start.” Seems simple? That’s because it is!
Simply tacking exercise onto something you are already doing in your day is one of the easiest ways to seamlessly integrate it into your busy day.
A few examples that come to mind:
- If there’s something you are simply listening to on a day-to-day basis – be it an online course, or a daily meeting you’re sitting in on – can you add a walk to this already existing process?
- Or, do you LOVE to catch up on your favourite show every day? Is there a way you can hope on a stationary bike while watching it on your phone?
- Or, can you do 5 squats before you go to the bathroom throughout the day
Get creative! See what you are already doing today that can be enhanced with a little bit of movement!
Tip #2: Exercise Snacks
A term we use in our coaching programs that our clients just LOVE is a good ol’ “exercise snack”. And it’s exactly as it sounds. Mini exercise breaks throughout the day.
So often, people feel like they have to workout out for 30 minutes to 1 hour to be successful, but here’s a new way of thinking about it….
What if you were to get 5 minutes of exercise in, 6 times throughout the day. A simple walk around the block, a 5 min yoga flow, or even a quick 10 minute HIIT session to break up the monotony of your daily work schedule
Studies have shown that this is FAR more effective than actually getting in a full workout at one point throughout the day.
Consistent movement throughout the day impacts our metabolism, our productivity, and our overall health quality!
Tip #3: Get it done in the morning
A study recently showed that you are 300% more likely to get your workout in if you get it in the morning. And that makes sense, right? How many times do you promise yourself that you will workout “after work” and the hectic nature of the day feels so overwhelming, that you can barely even find the energy to drive yourself home?
So before the busi-ness kicks in, aim to get some movement in the morning – and just get it over and done with.
Tip #4: Find movement in EVERY opportunity.
Listen, there are days when time truly feels so scarce that even the thought of figuring out how to squeeze a workout in triggers anxious thoughts. We get it. So on those days, we encourage clients to find movement wherever they can. In a typical day this could look like:
- Getting off one subway or bus stop earlier and walking a block to work
- Parking a little further away and giving yourself the extra 2 minutes of walking in
- Ditching the elevator/escalator and taking the stairs (or coming off a flight or two earlier)
On those days, when exercise feels utterly impossible to squeeze, see if the small opportunities exist. Because trust us, they add up.
Tip #5: When in doubt, stand
Multiple studies have shown people typically burn more calories standing than sitting. So this can mean, while working, you find the energy to stand for an hour throughout the day while you take that call. Or you invest in a standing desk.
Or if neither of those options is feasible for you, perhaps it’s setting an alarm on the hour, every hour, to remind yourself to stand!
Standing is the smallest movement, requiring little energy, which really does provide big rewards!
So there you have it! 5 ways to help you squeeze in exercise when things feel impossible. We once heard a leading neuroscientist say that if exercise was something that we could put in a pill, everyone would take it because it would be the single most powerful pill that could bring our health crisis to a screeching halt.