get healthy

How to Find Time to Exercise – However Busy You Are

We all know we should get more exercise … but most of us don’t manage to be nearly so active as we want to be.

It’s easy to blame busy lives. If your boss expects long hours – or you run your own business, or you’re a stay-at-home parent – it can feel like there really is no time at all in your day for exercise.

However busy you are, exercise is important. It isn’t just a way to cut your risk of future health problems – it also gives you more energy on a day-to-day basis, and will help you feel on top of things in a hectic life.

Here’s how to find time to exercise — without letting busyness stop you.

Step #1: Don’t Fixate on the Gym

Some people equate “exercise” with hour-long gym sessions, or organized team sports. You don’t need an expensive, complicated or time-consuming routine, though, in order to get the health benefits of exercise.

If you’re too busy to get to the gym, try a brisk 20 minute walk in your lunch hour and a few stretches in front of the TV during commercial breaks.

If possible, have a more active commute: if your workplace is fairly close by, ask yourself if you could you walk or cycle instead of driving?

Do it: Look at your typical daily schedule, and find a way to get at least 20 minutes of exercise. You might find this easiest if you break it into two 10 minute sessions.

Step #2: Make Exercise a Priority

Even if you don’t consciously prioritize your tasks, you almost certainly have a sense of what’s important and what’s not. When you’re busy, you can’t handle absolutely everything that comes your way – you need to decide what truly matters.

Exercise does matter, even if it feels like a luxury (or an unnecessary chore!) If you tell yourself that exercise is a priority for you, you’ll find it easier to make time for it.

One good way to do this is to get active, at least for a few minutes, first thing in the morning – even if that makes setting your alarm ten minutes earlier.

Do it: Write down at least three reasons why exercise matters to you. Now, look for a way to make exercise a priority in your life. (Remember, this doesn’t have to mean long gym sessions – it could simply mean doing 10 minutes of yoga every morning.)

Step #3: Track Your Progress

It’s very easy to start off an exercise program with great intentions … only to let things slide after a couple of weeks. You’ve probably noticed how busy gyms get during January – yet most of those new faces disappear by February.

One good way to stick with your plans is to keep a record of the exercise that you do. This could be as simple as putting a check mark on the calendar for each day that you successfully do 20 minutes or more of exercise.

If you want something more involved, you could keep an exercise log in a little notebook or spreadsheet, recording what you did at each session, and for how long.

Do it: Decide on a way to track your progress: something that will work well for you. This could involve being accountable to friends, if you want – a great way to boost your motivation. Don’t make your tracking system so complex that you put off using it, though.


And there you have it: three steps to better health and more energy.

If you’re truly so busy that you can’t find 20 minutes a day to exercise, look for ways to cut back on some of your other commitments. Can you make a point of taking a proper break at lunchtime, instead of working at your desk with a sandwich? Could you get your partner and kids to help out more around the house, so you’re not spending so much time on chores?

I’ll leave you with a quote that always helps motivate me…

 “Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” – Edward Stanley

Do you have any great tips for exercising, even when you’re busy? Let us know in the comments!


Ali blogs about getting more from life at Aliventures. She also freelances for a number of other blogs and is taking a postgraduate degree in creative writing.


18 Responses to How to Find Time to Exercise – However Busy You Are

  1. Tom Southern says:

    Hi Ali! Love what you say about not fixating on gyms. After all, you don’t have to go to a gym to get fit. It seems people who say they go to gyms are often the least fit and healthy (if a straw pole of my colleagues is true!).

    It’s all about being honest with yourself and caring enough about yourself to want to *take care* of yourself. 

    In the past, I’ve let other things get in the way of exercising, especially lazy peers who enjoy sparring with anti-fit jokes to excuse their lack of motivation and poor health.

    Recently, I’ve incorporated fitness into my daily routine. I now walk to the supermarket and carry my shopping home in a rucksack. It’s meant gradually filling my rucksack, but also means I make more trips, and therefore do more walking. It’s a challenge! The journey home includes a steep uphill climb as I live on a hill.

    The advantages outweigh the sore legs. I’ve seen deer in the wood I pass through, a sparrow hawk and horses playing “catch-me-if-you-can”. Of course I live in a semi-rural area, but I have to walk into town to the supermarket so I see lots of traffic too.

    By incorporating my exercise into everyday must-do tasks like shopping, I’ve been able to think more clearly, reduce stress – oh, and start losing the belly.

    It all comes down to realising that exercise is a short-cut to increasing confidence and becoming a more attractive person.

    Cheers Ali!


  2. Also focus on how enjoyable it is and the buzz you get after – lots easier to be motivated about something enjoyable!

  3. farouk says:

    very nice
    let me add another one, train in all weather conditions, by doing so you will become more attached to what you do even when things go wrong

  4. Dan Erickson says:

    I find that by doing 20 minutes of exercise in the morning, I’ve already accomplished a good portion of my daily needs.  When I exercise later in the day, which I often do, I consider it a bonus.  If I run short on time: no loss.

  5. Deane Alban says:

    I try to sneak exercise in whenever I can. Most people could squeeze ten minutes of exercise in per day while waiting for their computer to load, their tea spot to boil, or their TV to turn on!

  6. Holistic says:

    Thanks for this article. I know that exercises are very important. I wrote about it also in my blog. I like your three motivation steps, it could be helpful for those people which can’t find reason for do it.

  7. Jason says:

    A lot of people have success just by cutting out unnecessary shortcuts. Here’s an easy one I made a habit: park at the back of the parking lot. It actually makes a lot of sense–it’s easy to find a space, it’s less stressful to maneuver into a spot, sometimes it’s actually a faster way to get into the store than waiting for a space up front to clear out and, of course, the walk can be a short, simple and stress relieving walk. 

  8. Sage Grayson says:

    Great tips! I like how you mentioned finding other ways to make exercise possible like working out at home instead of the gym. Sometimes we get caught up in having to do things perfectly that we might end up not doing them at all. For me, a short workout at home is better than nothing.

  9. Nancy Steinhausen says:

    Making time for exercise can feel like one more thing on an already full day. I remember reading in The Power of Full Engagement how important taking short breaks throughout the day is to stay engaged in what you are doing. Those short breaks are a great opportunity to do a flight of stairs (to get the coffee), do a couple of quick stretches, or chair lifts, legs lifts…anything really.

  10. Lena says:

    I loved the idea of not fixating on exercise! Fixating on it can make it become something aversive, something that we HAVE to do, and then put off. Once it becomes something that you love to do it is so much easier to find the time for it! I personally like to get moving every hour in some sort of way, whether it is just stretching while watching tv or taking a quick walk around my office.

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  14. Baggio Wong says:

    This reminds me of what Tony Robbins said…we’ve gotta start dummifying things – if we turn exercise into a million steps in our head, the chances of following through dramatically decreases! 

    Instead of “changing into your gym clothes –> packing a fresh change of clothes –> tying your shoes –> driving to the gym –> getting your membership card out –> packing your stuff into the locker –> doing stretches…”, why not “have a change of clothes and go out for a 15 minute jog”? 

    Probably needed a big kick in the head as well…thanks for sharing!!Baggio 

  15. Karthikeyani Bscagri says:

    Get up 20minutes early in the morning from the usual time u do it…..

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  18. terredean says:

    Exercising is a must to keep yourself fit, tracking your time for exercise is a good choice and also one knows how much minimum to work out every day.

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