Figuring out how to fit a workout into the day was already a big enough challenge before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with many working remotely and kids staying home for online schooling, it can be more difficult than ever to find some spare time for the gym. Even though staying active when busy can be hard, physical activity is still a crucial part of improving long-term health, weight management, mood enhancement and many other health benefits.
To help you take care of your short- and long-term health, we’ll go over some practical tips for exercising with a busy schedule and ways to make the most of the time you do have to exercise. Keep reading if you need some fitness motivation.
If you’re unsure how to get exercise into a busy schedule, check out these 15 tips to break a sweat no matter how booked you are:
The first solution for how to make time for exercise with a busy schedule is intentionally writing physical activity into your routine. If you don’t deliberately plan a time to work out, you will most likely become busy during the day and your workout session will get pushed to the next one. Before you know it, it’s been a month since you’ve seen the gym.
Planning when you go to the gym also means you can go during off-hours when the facility is most empty. Going early in the morning, in the middle of the day or late at night when there are fewer people will make it more likely that the cardio machines and weights you want to use will be available. Visiting when the gym is least crowded will allow you to get through your workout as quickly as possible and reduce your time away from your other responsibilities.
If you’re short on time at the gym, you can do certain exercises to work multiple muscle groups at once and torch as many calories as possible in the time you have. Compound exercises hit multiple muscle groups and two or more joints at once. These moves require more energy output from more muscles, which helps you burn more calories in less time while increasing your overall muscle mass.
Compound exercises can be one fluid motion that works multiple muscles simultaneously, like lunges, or a combination of two moves, such as squats with an overhead press. On the other hand, isolation exercises focus on working a specific muscle. Although there’s nothing wrong with classic moves that target one particular muscle, such as bicep curls, these types of exercises won’t give you the most from your workout in the shortest amount of time.
To maximize your limited time at the gym, try to make around 70% to 80% of your workout consist of compound moves. Fill in the rest of the time with isolation exercises for any muscles you want to target.
Similar to compound exercises, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) burns fat fast, which makes it the perfect workout for a short gym session. HIIT involves going all out for an interval, taking a short rest, then launching into another full-effort interval. Because the intervals are intense and the recovery time is short, HIIT workouts keep your heart rate up and maximize caloric burn.
You can do HIIT workouts based on sprinting intervals or cycling to build aerobic fitness, or you can do intervals of an exercise like burpees to build more strength along with stamina. HIIT packs a lot of work into a short amount of time to rev up your metabolism and stimulate excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
That means your body will still be burning calories after your workout. After a HIIT session, you’ll be exhausted and drenched in sweat but finished in half the time with similar fitness results as a longer workout.
A busy mom exercise schedule means making the most of any opportunity to socialize outside the house. Just as you can make your exercises work double for you, you can grab a friend or two and make your sweat session double as a catch-up hour. Working out alongside a fitness buddy is always more fun and can keep you accountable.
Even if you’re not a busy mom, you and your friends can still start building healthy habits by subbing happy hour for an hour at the gym. For couples, time at the gym together followed by a nice dinner to refuel can make a great date night. Getting active together will help you both stay fit despite your busy schedules and keep date night from ever being boring.
If you’re struggling with how to incorporate exercise into a busy schedule, consider taking a fitness class. With a definite start and end time, it’s easy to enter a fitness class into your agenda and plan the rest of your day around it. The accountability that comes with choosing a set time to work out will also keep you motivated to actually go to the gym.
Fitness classes can also be fun. Try a new type of exercise like yoga or spinning, which will keep you from getting bored with your routine. Get a few of your friends to sign up for the class with you to make it something for everyone to look forward to each week.
While your kids are at their sports practice or any other type of supervised activity, you can get in a quick workout. Either hit the gym or run around wherever your kids are practicing. If your children are still too young for clubs and activities, think about getting a jogging stroller and strapping them in for some extra fresh air for them and an extra workout challenge for you.
Depending on what types of youth or child care programs your local gym offers, you may be able to drop your kids off at a gym-sponsored event while you go get your workout in. Most gyms have some sort of kids club available for busy parents, so make sure to check out what your gym offers. However, be aware that COVID-19 precautions may limit child care options at your gym.
When trying to fit some fitness into your busy schedule, you’ll have to take advantage of extra free time whenever it pops up. You never know when an appointment could get canceled at the last minute or you could end up finishing work early. If you constantly keep a pair of running shoes and some athletic clothes stored in your car, you’ll always be ready to hit the gym or get a run in without wasting time going home to change.
If you come prepared, you may even be able to get a quick workout in over your lunch break. Keep in mind that doing something, even if it feels short, is better than doing nothing. In fact, squeezing in short bursts of exercise throughout the day can be extremely effective for both physical and mental health. If you can’t make it to the gym in time, try doing a short bodyweight circuit, trying some desk exercises or going for a brisk walk.
Instead of sitting in the car for however long it takes you to get to work, try viewing your commute as an opportunity to get active. Whether by biking, walking or running, you can get in a good amount of exercise just by going to or from work. As a bonus, running home might even get you there quicker than taking public transportation.
If you work a bit farther away than you’d like to run, simply get off the bus, train or subway a few stops earlier and run the rest of the way. For just a short burst of exercise, park your car farther away from your office than usual to extend your walk.
Opting for the stairs instead of the elevator is an easy way to sneak some exercise into your day. When you do take the stairs, make sure you power up them instead of leisurely walking. This will help you make the most of each flight. Try gradually increasing your speed and upping the number of stairs you climb within a minute. If you can safely take two steps at once, you can target your glutes even more.
You can still get work done while working out. Although it’s best to be completely focused on your workout while in the gym, sometimes a busy schedule does not permit that. If you have something you need to read for work, browse over it as you’re walking on the treadmill, peddling on a stationary bike or climbing the stair machine.
You can combine working out with less serious commitments, too. If you’re dedicated to watching a certain show each week, consider watching it as you use the elliptical at the gym or do some push-ups and crunches during commercial breaks at home. You can even coordinate an exercise watch party to get your whole family or friends involved.
Whether you’re wondering how to exercise while working from home or how to get a workout in without leaving the house so you can watch the kids, a virtual gym membership is the solution for you. Joining a gym virtually will allow you to take a fitness class online and take advantage of other gym amenities — such as a personal trainer — without figuring out who will stay home with your kids while you go out.
You can also work out at any time of the day, at your own pace. 5 Bridges Health & Fitness offer a virtual platform that includes five bridges to overall wellness: Fitness, Nutrition, Recovery, Education and Community. You’ll get to enjoy live and on-demand workout classes and even participate in community events with like-minded fitness folks.
With many people stuck indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more gyms have begun offering virtual memberships. That means it shouldn’t be hard for you to find a virtual membership program that suits your needs.
If possible, run to the grocery store or post office to do your daily errands. You can even bring your child along for the trip if you take a jogging stroller. If you’re not into running, consider walking or biking to wherever you need to go. Don’t forget that you might come back with bags from purchases, so plan accordingly.
For busy parents, one of the best times to work out is while the kids are still asleep. If you set your alarm early enough, you can get up and get a solid exercise session in before your kids even open their eyes. As a bonus, doing your workout early will kick-start your day and give you a sense of accomplishment to carry you through the rest of it.
If your partner also prefers to work out early, try establishing an every-other-day schedule in which you alternate who works out which morning so one of you is always home in case your child does wake up early.
Setting goals is a great way to motivate yourself to work out no matter how busy you get. Come up with some concrete fitness goals, such as improving your mile time or bench pressing a certain amount of weight, and a realistic plan for achieving them. For some added motivation, decide on a reward like a nice new pair of jeans you can enjoy once you’ve accomplished one of your goals.
Be sure to track your activity levels and measure your progress to keep yourself on the right path. Using a fitness journal is a good way to help you recognize when you’re sticking with healthy habits and when you need to make some adjustments. By closely monitoring your activity levels, you’ll reach your fitness goals in no time.
Another way to ensure you consistently work out despite your crammed schedule is by exercising in a way you enjoy. Although some exercise methods are more time-efficient than others, you should choose activities that encourage you to look forward to working out. Exercising should become something you want to do rather than have to do. You won’t want to go to the gym if you dread the activity you plan on doing, so find one that makes you excited about exercising.
If you’re not sure what type of workout is best for you, try experimenting with different forms of exercise like yoga, powerlifting or even dance. Every person is different, so don’t worry if your favorite way to work out doesn’t look the same as others. Focus on finding what matches best with your personality, taste and lifestyle.
If you’re looking for a conveniently located gym with all the amenities you need, check out the membership perks at 5 Bridges Health & Fitness. With state-of-the-art exercise equipment and fitness classes led by expert trainers, 5 Bridges Health & Fitness have everything you need to get an efficient workout. Your safety is our top priority, which is why we comply with all state and local COVID-19 guidelines.
Joining 5 Bridges Health & Fitness make working out with a busy schedule quick, easy and simple.