Make Exercise Fit into Your Schedule

January 18, 2023

By: Dr. Mary Rose Strickland

A common reason (excuse?) I hear for people not exercising regularly is that they don’t have time for it. I get it. Life is busy. There’s work, school, kids, household cleaning, outside chores, community and church participation, sometimes there seems like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. However, if you truly are looking to get your body moving more in the new year, there are ways you can creatively make exercise fit into your schedule.

  1. Plan it like you would an appointment or meeting. Put it on your calendar, in your phone, set a reminder, and tell your family about it. Protect that time, and don’t allow anything to overbook it unless you can swap it for a different time.
  2. Be realistic about your goals. Maybe it isn’t the time to start a 60-minute workout routine after work. Could you start with 20 minutes daily? Or 30 minutes 5 days per week? Then slowly start to work up to more time.
  3. Every little bit counts – you don’t have to even have a single 30-minute chunk. Get out for a 10-minute walk before work, one over lunch, and one after work. That’s 30 minutes of aerobic exercise done by dinnertime. You will meet your aerobic exercise recommendations by doing small chunks of activity at a time.
  4. Take everyday tasks and responsibilities and elevate it to get your exercise in. Home with the kids or grandkids? Crank up the music and have a dance party; get outside and play tag; go for a walk while they ride their bike. Move your body as they move theirs! For household chores, set a timer and see if you can work at “doublespeed” – getting your work done twice as fast and your heart rate up in the meantime!
  5. Identify other distractions/time suckers and prioritize how you want to spend your time. Have you looked at your phone’s “screen time” report? Most people aren’t aware how much time they spend on online games, social media, etc, right on their phone. Replace 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there with some squats and lunges and you are now meeting your strength training requirements for the week.

A friend recently shared something that really resonated with me as a physical therapist, and on a personal level. Exercise is “hard”. Making the time to move our bodies and take care of our health is “hard”. But diabetes is harder. Heart attacks and strokes are harder. Choose your hard. What will it be?