Everyone gets busy. Busy leads to stress. Stress leads to overwhelm. Overwhelm leads to a life out of balance. When things get hectic, being aware becomes a survival skill.
One of the first habits to fall away when we’re busy is exercise. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 5 tips to keep exercising when you’re busy.
1. Take a new class –
The type of class doesn’t matter. It just needs to be regular. I’ve used this technique to try out boxing, swimming, and crossfit.
The main reason this works is the times are set. Often our day expands to whatever time we have. Classes force us to commit to a block of time, 1 -3 days a week.
(HINT: I don’t recommend getting a gym membership. Here’s why: The big gym business model is based on people not coming. There’s no urgency with a gym. We can always tell ourselves we’ll do it later. With a class, if we don’t go we lose money. )
2. Get a workout buddy –
If I’m the only one expecting me to get up and run at 6am, it won’t last. A workout buddy holds you accountable. They share the struggle with you. They also multiply the joy.
I was talking to a fellow trainer recently about successful transformation. She identified community as one essential factor of transformation.
A workout buddy is a great way to start building that community. It’s also a way to make exercise an act of service. Because you’ll be helping your buddy as much as they are helping you.
3. Short intense workouts –
One way to fit a workout into a busy day is a short intense workout.
Short workouts involve several full body exercises performed one right after another. This gets lots of muscle groups at the same time. It also gets our heart rate going.
One of my favorite ones is what I call the 5 x 10. It’s a set of 3 exercises a squat thrust, a squat jump, and a mountain climber. You perform each exercise 10 times and then go to the next exercise. Then you rest for 60 – 90 seconds and start all over again. You repeat this 5 times.
This routine takes less than 20 – 30 mins, but every time I do it, I’m amazed at how tired I get.
Too intense? Bad knees? No problem. You can this technique with any three exercises.
You could do air squats, 5 second planks, and running in place for 30 seconds. You could do two arm dumbbell curls, tricep curls, and lunges.
The important thing is to do 3 exercises back to back. Then take a short break. Repeat 3-10x.
For the best results,
- Pick exercises that work more than one part of your body.
- Pick exercises that are challenging but within your comfort zone.
4. Exercise first thing in the morning –
I’ve tried exercising at all hours of the day. I’ve found that I enjoy exercise whenever I do it. I’ve also found I’m more consistent if I do it in the morning.
We can never know what the day is going to hold for us. Things are always coming up that eat up time. Often the time that get’s eaten is the time for exercise.
Leo Babuta recommends that you start by waking up just a few minutes earlier everyday. Shift your waking schedule slowly, so you don’t throw your body out of whack.
5. Create a workout schedule –
One simple and easy way to start increasing your activity is called a periodization. I used a periodization plan to train for triathlons last year. It’s effective at helping slowly build volume.
It’s a simple. You start with a weekly goal. Say running 20 mins 3x a week. Then you increase that activity by 10% each week for 3 weeks. On the fourth week, you rest and decrease activity by 40%. Then on the fifth week, you increase by 66%.
Ok maybe not that simple. I created a excel spreadsheet that does all the math for you.
The beauty of this plan is how simple it is. The downside is how simple it is. It doesn’t take into account cross training, sport specific strength training, or many other factors.
Workout Plan Tips
Always rest a one day a week. The body builds more muscle on rest days then any other.
Respect rest weeks. These weeks are designed to make sure your progress is sustainable.
Start slow with a new exercise plan. Consult your physician, if you have injuries or any cardio vascular or respiratory illness.
By using these 5 tips, you can make exercise part of your daily life. When we are busy, it’s more important than ever to stay active.
Some activities, like meditation, spending time with loved ones, and exercise, create more time. When we engage in self-care, we get more space, clarity, and energy. These mean a smoother day and a more efficient, happier you.
Don’t let your busy life throw you off balance. Be creative and find a way to bring moments of stillness and movement into your life everyday.