5 Creative Ways to Fit a Workout into Your Busy Schedule

This is a guest post written by my friend Kelli Hahn. Kelli is a certified Personal Trainer & Health Coach in the Denver area, who also specializes in making working out convenient & online training. She is a mom of two, hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro for her honeymoon, and used to play a crazy sport called Australian Rules Football. 

I love this topic because I feel like all of us can relate to this feeling of overwhelm, and exercise is often the first thing we ditch in busy times. Read on for five awesome and creative ways to incorporate activity into your day. Hope you enjoy!

5 Creative Ways to Fit a Workout into Your Busy Schedule

Is Busy the New Normal?

It seems to be that time of year when everyone is busy. Really though, do our busy schedules ever let up? For most people if we are busy now we will find ways to keep our schedule packed all year around, or we at least feel as though we are and just can’t figure out how on earth to squeeze in some exercise.

The hard truth? We all have the same 24 hours in a day and for 99.9% of us it’s not actually about a lack of time, it’s about priorities. I’ve already covered the “I don’t have time” to exercise thing in a blog post, so I won’t go on too long here.  All day we make decisions about what we are and are not going to do and it is our decision if we workout or not. Remember, you don’t need to carve out a solid hour every day of the week. You just need 15-30 minutes and you can even build that time into your daily to-do’s to make workouts both functional and practical.

It’s not always going to be easy to workout and you might never find that motivation you keep searching for, but maybe you are searching for the wrong things? Let’s face it, we aren’t motivated to do the dishes or our laundry, but we do it anyway. Why? Because we feel like we have to; we need clean clothes to wear and clean dishes to eat from. So, why shouldn’t we also feel like we just have to workout? We should take care of our body (and mind) just as we do our cars, house, and clothes. We only have one body and one life so it really should be a top priority.

The Benefits of Exercise

While trying to incorporate a new workout routine it’s important to 1) take it slow and 2) create small habits so that they are sustainable.

It’s also important to remember why you want to (and should) workout. Some of the amazing benefits of exercise include:

  • More energy

  • Confidence

  • Strength

  • Bone health

  • Heart health

  • Feel happier

  • Reduce stress

  • Helps brain health & memory

Incorporating Exercise Into Your Routine

Now that you know why exercise is so amazing, here are some practical ways to incorporate it into your everyday routine.

“Run” Your Errands

Literally. Run to the store to grab that one item you forgot, or to an appointment, a friend’s house, a restaurant. I’ve actually run to the liquor store before… had to earn that glass of wine 😉 I promise you, no one cares if you are a little sweaty. If anything they’ll be in awe that you’re running!

Take a 20 Min Lunch Break (ideally even longer!)

You deserve it, and you’ll be even more productive if you get a workout in mid-day. Do as many rounds as possible of the following:

  • 10 squats

  • 10 pushups

  • 10 lunges (each side)

  • 10 tricep dips

  • 40 jumping jacks

Walk & Talk

Have a conference call? Date with a friend? Making phone calls? Walk while you talk!

5-Minute Workouts

Everyone has at least five minutes to spare each day - actually, I’m sure most of us could find several five-minute blocks! Instead of scrolling Facebook try some of these 5-Minute Workouts.

Social Media Challenge

Speaking of Facebook, I know I’m guilty of spending wasteful time on social media throughout the day. My challenge to all of you is this: Every time you consider visiting a social media site, you must first do one of the following for one minute:

  • Squats

  • Pushups

  • Lunges

  • Jumping jacks

  • Wall sit

  • Plank

  • Side plank (each side)

  • Step-ups

You might be surprised how often you are checking social media and how many exercises you can squeeze in throughout the day. Take the challenge and use the hashtag #HealthyHabitsByHahn.

To Summarize

Start prioritizing and making time for working out! Even if you feel like your schedule is packed, try using some of the tips mentioned above and be sure to let us know how it goes - you are worth it!

Kelli also has some awesome 20-30 minute workouts that are perfect for busy schedules. Check them out at Hahn Fitness Online Workouts.

Why Making Exercise Less Structured Might Be Good for Your Health

Write in on your calendar. Wake up before the sun comes up. Schedule fitness classes weeks in advance to hold yourself accountable.
These are all classic tips for how to make exercise fit into your day no matter what, and I'll be the first to admit that I used to recommend them all. And while they are helpful for some, for others the exercise relationship is a little bit more complicated. 

When I was in college, I went through a phase where I felt guilty if I didn’t get a heart-pounding, sweaty and exhausting workout on most days of the week. I took all of the above tips seriously and told myself that it was the only way to maintain a healthy lifestyle (and trust me, my college years were not my healthiest but that's another post). Exercise was mechanical and usually boring and just majorly lacking in variety. The good news: I always worked at a gym so my membership was free. The bad news: I was surrounded by a totally diet and appearance focused culture that I unfortunately participated in for a little bit too long.

Fast forward about ten years and my approach to physical activity is completely different, but I am just as consistent with getting active now as I was then. How is it possible? I got a whole lot more relaxed about it. I found that I really actually enjoyed running and training for races. I also discovered that walking does wonders for my mental health and is accessible no matter what (all you need is shoes). Weight lifting classes are fun and make me feel strong, confident and energized (especially when followed by an epic brunch with friends). Most importantly, if structured exercise isn’t going to happen on certain days, it doesn’t make for a stressful situation, it usually just means I'm more excited to get moving the next day, whatever that might look like.

Exercise should not be a punishment for your body because of what you ate or what you weigh; it's an important step towards good health and ultimately makes you feel just plain awesome.  Exercise is highly effective for stress relief and relaxation, helps build and maintain strong muscles and bones, and keeps your heart pumping strong. It also helps you sleep better which is a pretty nice perk. I love this quote by dietitian and counselor Molly Kellogg that I recently came across:

People tend to believe it is hating their body that will motivate them to change their behaviors. This tends to be a short-term motivator, if at all. Accepting our bodies and wanting them to be as healthy and functional as possible focuses the mind on the behaviors that will serve us best.

This is not to say that structure or goals are always a bad thing, hence the key word “might” in the title. Exercise can be a great opportunity for physical and mental challenge, goal setting and athleticism which are all awesome things too. You might just keep this idea in mind the next time you feel down on yourself about choosing a rest day over a run.