In a perfect world, we’d be able to wake up early (after 7-8 hours of sound sleep) and do a full workout early, before the day gets away from us. In reality, there are days (or weeks, months, or years!) when finding time for fitness can feel almost impossible.
If you are short on time, please know that when it comes to a good workout, consistent quality matters more than quantity! Focus on what you can do to move your body each day, in the time you have, especially during busier seasons of life.
Here are a few tips on fitting in fitness when time is tight:
#1: Prioritize strength.
Don’t get me wrong — I love aerobic exercise; it feels good, gets you moving and grooving, and offers plenty of health benefits (including the ability to recover faster from strength workouts!).
However, when you are short on time and fitting in several sessions a week is tough, dedicate your training time to lifting weights. Strength training gives the most bang for your exercise buck, so if a whole week of working out isn’t in the cards right now, put your time and energy into strength.
Some research shows as little as 30-60 minutes a week (of total body work) may be enough. Go for one longer session, or, if you can only do 15-minutes at a time, aim for two total-body sessions per week (like this Total Body Short Circuit).
#2: Stack your steps throughout the day.
Step to it! Cardio exercise offers plenty of benefits, but if you are short on time, it can be last on the list (see tip #1). Instead of trying to carve out time for an entire ‘cardio workout,’ look for ways to build it into your day (our 1- Mile Walk n Talk videos can help with this!).
Don’t worry too much about hitting a specific step count, just get moving as often as you feasibly can throughout your waking hours. You’ve heard the tips before — park further away from the entrance, take the stairs, walk during conference calls, after you eat during a lunch break, etc. — they all really add up!
#3: Sneak in some stretching for stress/tension relief (if desired).
Strength and mobility go hand in hand to keep your body moving (and feeling) at its best. The good news is that most of our strength workouts include mobility during the warm-up, so if you train with us, some mobility work is covered within your strength session too. And, a recent study found that maintaining a dedicated strength training routine was just as effective as stretching when it comes to increasing overall joint range of motion. So, if you are short on time and don’t like having to spend additional time on stretching, as long as you can keep up with your strength training, you are all set!
But, if you are limited on your strength training session days, it may be more beneficial to sneak in a little more flexibility time. Plus, you may find that taking short stretch breaks during a hectic day can help calm your mind and de-stress your body. Consider adding a quick stretch break at your desk, while cooking dinner or watching your favorite show. (This 8-Minute Standing Stretch series can help you fit in some flexibility without even getting on the floor!).
#4: Fuel your body well.
It can be much harder to find time for self-care when life gets hectic. Amp up your body’s natural defenses by including as much nourishment as possible in your day with healthy food and plenty of water. And, if your mind starts to worry about the lack of ‘calorie burn’ from missing your regular workouts (even though calorie burn isn’t as crucial within your exercise time itself!), focus on fueling with good, quality nutrition (like these simple meal and snack ideas). If weight loss is a goal, filling up on higher fiber, more nutrient rich foods (and cutting out a bit more nutritionally ‘empty’ calories) can help you stay on track even if you aren’t able to move your body as much as you’d like.
Don’t struggle against a full schedule; look for ways to work within it. There’s no need to aim for perfection when it comes to a healthy lifestyle or exercise plan (an “all or nothing” mindset just adds to stress!).
Life is full of ebbs and flows, and learning to ride the ups and downs of these waves is all a part of the journey. Remember that consistency trumps intensity, so stay focused on small, simple steps you can take daily, no matter how busy things get.
Here’s to your health!
“Think about every good thing in your life right now. Free yourself of worrying. Let go of the anxiety, breathe. Stay positive, all is well.”
― Germany Kent
Need help finding short, quick sessions to fit into your schedule? Our new “All Access Pass” can help! Use the search by ‘duration’ feature in your library to find a workout that fits in your timeframe!
I love the huge variety of workouts you provide and the variety of lengths of time the workouts are. On days when I have limited time I try to bang out a couple of your 10 minute ones. I love your 5 minute stretch too! No excuses with what you have to offer.
Thanks again Jessica so much!! This article speaks to me!! I’m always worrying if I burned enough calories! Did I do enough steps! And after reading this, it has helped me relax my mind, and do even 15-20 min a day is more doable & less stressful! I still love doing your 30 min strength workouts though.. but certain days is not possible! Plus my back issues get in the way too….thank you!!!!!! 👍👍💞❤️😘
Thanks for the tips Jessica. Reading this article has really helped with my mindset. I’m often guilty of doing nothing at all during busy periods as I can feel quite overwhelmed. But knowing that shorter workout sessions and generally moving more are just as effective as longer workouts will help me to stay consistent 😄
Thanks so much for reading Clare! I’m so happy to hear this info is helping you to shift your mindset and to hopefully feel less overwhelmed. Just focus on those small daily steps, without stress. You got this! 🙂
Thank you so much for the valuable tips, Jessica ❤️
I do not drive a car and walk a lot. It keeps me in shape more or less. Will try to do more dumbell lifting at home.
Thanks for reading Ellie! That’s great that you are able to walk so much throughout your day, a wonderful way to stay healthy! 🙂