I know it’s easy to blame your lack of physical activity on your busy life, but exercise doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Get fit on your schedule with these five creative ways to squeeze exercise into your day.

1. Start your day right with five minutes of movement as soon as you wake up.

Who says you have to train for an hour in the gym as soon as you start a new fitness plan? No one with half a brain. In order to create a new healthy habit that you can stick with, begin with a lifestyle change that is so small that you barely notice it. To illustrate, let’s say you have to be at work by 8 a.m., so you usually wake up around 6:30-7:00 a.m. (Note: I’m just using examples to make sure you get the idea, modify this to fit your own schedule). Simply wake up 10 or 15 minutes early and do the following workout*:

15-30 squats

25-50 jumping jacks or run in place for 30 seconds (giving options here, because I notice most women hate jumping jacks, yes I know why, but I’m not saying it since that would be a little awkward)

10-25 push-ups (with your hands elevated on your wall or kitchen sink if needed)

25-50 jumping jacks or run in place for 30 seconds

5 yoga poses/stretches of your choosing (make sure you take care of your upper *and* lower body)

*Note: I’m listing ranges of repetitions instead of a specific number, because I’m sure a wide range of folks with a variety of experience levels are reading this. If you’re not sure where to start, do this during your first training session: assuming a scale of 1-10 that describes how tired you feel, stop the exercise at #5. Write down how many repetitions you are able to perform and gradually add 2-5 more per workout to make it more difficult. Begin by performing a single set of every exercise listed for as many repetitions as you can safely, which should take about five minutes. When that becomes too easy, make it two sets. When that becomes too easy, make it three sets. You get the idea.

2. Get your gym gear together the night before.

Before you go to bed, lay out your gym and work clothes for the next day. It’s a lot easier to get organized while you’re still half-conscious than it is before you’ve had your coffee (and feeling like a zombie). For bonus points, put your gym shoes and socks next to the bed. If you workout in the evening, collect your training gear, put it in a bag, and toss it into your car.

3. Treat exercise as if it is your job.

Exercise should be an enjoyable experience (if you’re doing it right), but there is no denying that you’re not always going to feel like working out. But since exercise is just as important for your physical health as going to work is for your fiscal health, why should it be treated any differently? Treat exercise as if it is a very important appointment by scheduling your training days on a calendar or planner. Aim to exercise on the same days, at the same times, every single week. If repeated consistently, this will train your brain to turn exercise into a consistent habit that doesn’t require much thought process.

4. Take a mid-day walk to relax and unwind.

Remember that early morning workout I gave you in point #1? If you’re interested in bonus points, here’s another easy way to squeeze exercise into your day. Sometime around the middle of your day (maybe at lunch time?), go for a 10-30 minute walk downtown or at a park. Breathe deeply and try to quiet your inner-chatter, enjoying the peace and silence, while you walk. You’ll come back to work re-charged and ready to make the most of the rest of your day (plus, you’ll burn extra calories too!).

5. Remember why exercising is important in the first place.

Never forget why pursuing health and fitness is so important in the first place. Do you want to be a positive example for your children? Could you use more energy to carry you gracefully throughout your days? Would you like to get fit so you can feel more confident in your body? Are you taking expensive pills with nasty side-effects, all of which could be avoided if you made a better effort to take care of yourself? Whatever the case may be, know your why.

Questions for the Comments:

  • If you struggle to motivate yourself to exercise, why is that? No time or energy; overwhelmed or don’t know how to start; it’s too boring; lack of social support; (insert your thing here)?
  • If you plan to try out the “top o’ the morning” workout above, do you have any questions (and are you excited to crush it)?
  • If you know of any other ways to squeeze exercise into your day, please tell us in the comments so everybody can benefit!

Featured photo credit: Jogging with the kids/Ed Yourdon via flickr.com

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