How to add exercise to your weekly schedule and stick to it
Exercising is something we all know we should be doing but life gets in the way all the time. I know I am guilty of skipping my workout routine if a friend asks me if I want to go to happy hour or I just don’t honestly feel like going. It is so easy to put working out on the back burner.
There are so many things fighting for our attention… there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day! Working out can easily be a few-hour endeavor with changing into workout clothes, driving to the gym, stretching, actually working out, driving home, and showering. So if you’re slammed at work, it easy to tell yourself that you’re just going to work out tomorrow.
But we shouldn’t do this! There are so many benefits to working out such as a boost in self-esteem, increases energy levels, and all the physical benefits. Honestly, if you don’t move your body, you aren’t going to be able to perform at your best because you aren’t going to feel your best. It’s as simple as that.
Now I know it’s hard when you have a demanding desk job and especially now that many of us have been working from home for over a year. It was much easier to get my steps in when I was going to the office. The fifteen steps from my bedroom to my desk are just not cutting it in order to reach my daily step goal.
It requires more work and I get that but we need to keep moving. It is SO important. This is why I’m going to give you some tips on how to incorporate a workout schedule into a busy routine because I know you can.
How much do I really need to work out per week anyways?
According to the CDC, an adult should do at least 150 minutes each week of physical activity, which is a little over 20 minutes a day. They also recommend that you include strength training at least two times a week. Now as long as your heart rate increases, strength training can be included in the 150 minutes!
This recommendation includes a brisk walk! So you don’t have to go to the gym if you don’t want to. If you ask me, walking is a great way to get into an exercise routine if you’ve been living a completely sedentary lifestyle for some time now.
Now, I could go on about the benefits of walking but walking is something that everyone can add to their routine. An obvious benefit for someone with a jammed-packed schedule is that you don’t have to spend time changing into workout clothes and stretching.
You can easily add walking into your workday by having a walking meeting, walking during your lunch break, or walking when you’re on a conference call. Now you do have to raise your heart rate so make sure you’re walking somewhat fast. You don’t have to be out of breath but you should feel like you’re putting some effort into it.
If you go from a moderate-intense workout, such as walking to a high-intensity workout such as running, you only need 75 minutes every week!
That’s ten minutes a day. Realistically, you aren’t going to go through the hassle of putting on workout clothes, stretching, and then go for a ten-minute run which is why running is a great way to get those minutes of activity into your routine.
It is also important to remember that strength training is very broad. I don’t mean that you have to go to the gym and grab a barbell. Bodyweight workouts can also fall under this category!
If you’re new to strength training, remember to focus on your form above anything else. That way you’re working the correct muscles and it will help prevent injuries down the road.
9 Ways to add exercise to your busy schedule
1. Schedule it into your calendar
This sounds so simple but it’s effective. Every week I write down which days I am going to work out in my planner. You’ve probably heard this before but you wouldn’t miss a doctor’s appointment or a meeting at work so why are you going to miss your appointment for yourself to work out?
I write down what I am going to do and when I am going to do it and it makes it much easier to stick to it. I follow a workout program so I don’t have to actually create my workout routine which saves time but actually scheduling it into my calendar helps keep me accountable.
There are so many workout programs and apps that you can choose from. I know a lot of the apps have calendars built-in so you can schedule what you’re going to do on what days. It takes out the excuse that you don’t know what you want to do at the gym since you already made the decision!
2. Find a workout partner
If you skip the gym a lot because you would rather hang out with friends then why not collide the two worlds? Everyone can benefit from exercising so why not work out and socialize at the same time? I know I have a lot more fun when I can work out with a friend. It also pushes me to work harder since I have someone cheering me on.
You aren’t going to bail on your friend. Or at least it is much harder to tell someone else that you’re going to skip purely because you have to actually say your excuse out loud. A lot of times our excuses are just bad. But if you don’t want to go you’re aren’t going to question that excuse and just accept it.
Working out with friends also doesn’t have to be going to the gym or a workout class. You can go for a bike ride or a hike. My sister and I trained for a half marathon together and those long runs were definitely a lot easier with a buddy.
3. Put your money where your mouth is
Going off my half marathon example, after I paid to do this half marathon, I was much more motivated to go for runs. I did the Disney Princess half marathon so it wasn’t cheap and I didn’t want to waste all this money and not be able to finish the race.
It is definitely enough miles that I knew I had to train for it. There have been times that I’ve signed up for 5ks with the same thought process but I was able to convince myself that I could run 3 miles without training that much. Spoiler alert, I was wrong, it was awful.
My half marathon is kind of an extreme example but even signing up for fitness classes or paying for a fitness app can help keep you motivated. Signing up for the program I’m in has helped me stay consistent.
You basically just have to spend enough money that it’s going to hurt your soul a little to not go and work out. This is obviously going to be different for everyone.
4. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym
You only have to do 150 minutes of exercise a week to reach the CDC goal which is way less than an hour. If you exercise three times a week for 50 minutes, you’ve hit that mark.
If you know you can’t do an hour of exercise 5 times a week then don’t try to schedule it. To stay consistent, you have to make it work for your schedule. If you haven’t worked out in a while, I wouldn’t recommend trying to add hour-long exercise routines, 5 times a week. You are going to either burn yourself out or be too sore to stay consistent.
For example, the workout program I follow technically programs 5 sessions a week. I can’t easily fit 5 days of strength training into my routine so I just plan for 4. If I end up having extra time during the week and I hit the gym 5 times, I’ll either do that last session or just have some fun and do what my body wants to do that day.
Since I’m currently working from home, I try to work out three times during my lunch break at work and then once on the weekend. It’s what has been working for me in this season of my life. When I have to go back to the office, I won’t be able to do this so I’m going to have to reassess.
It’s important to be flexible with yourself. Life happens and your schedule is going to change. Just try to come up with a routine that can fit your lifestyle and you’ll be on your way.
5. Workout in the morning
Currently, I work out at lunch since I’m working from home but that’s going to change when I head back to the office. Schedules are going to change depending on what season of life you are at so adjust your workout accordingly.
A good way to get a workout in is honestly working out in the morning. It’s an easy way to add an extra hour to your day. Especially if you know you’re drained or starving after work, you get it out of the way. Life really can’t get in the way at 5 am. No one is asking you to do something at that hour. You also feel so accomplished because you’ve already worked out and crushed that goal!
I use to do this when I was training for my half marathon. Granted, my longer runs were always on the weekends so I wasn’t waking up in the middle of the night to start running.
I had to be at work at 8 am so I woke up at 5 am. I was lucky enough to live 5 minutes from the gym so that made it easier since I really didn’t have to factor in a commute time.
My piece of advice if you are new to working out in the morning is to be consistent. I had to wake up at 5 am every day during the week to make waking up easier so I was going to the gym 6 days a week during that time in my life. You don’t necessarily have to wake up and work out every day at 5 am but you should get in the habit of waking up at the same time every day so your body can get used to it.
Another thing I would do is lay my workout clothes out the night before so I could roll out of bed and throw those clothes on without thinking about it. I also didn’t snooze my alarm and forced myself to get up as soon as the alarm went off.
6. If you prefer working out after work, pack a gym bag
I know some people are not and never will be morning people. If that’s the case, working out after work can be a great option. I’ve obviously done it all when it comes to what time to work out because I use to work out after work before the pandemic happened.
Personally, the biggest con to working out after work is the number of people that are at the gym at 6 pm. It’s ridiculous so this was a time in my life where I mostly only did workout classes like Body Pump, Zumba, and cycling to avoid fighting for equipment.
The only way I worked out after work was if I packed a gym bag the night before and took it with me to work or if I made plans with a friend to workout together. If I went home and didn’t have the accountability, I wasn’t leaving my house. Especially in the winter, when it was dark and cold.
It was harder to convince myself out of working out if my bag was already in the car. I just had to force myself to drive to the gym. Once I’m at the gym, I’m fine and ready to crush it. If I went home, it was only if the fitness class was at like 7 and I was only going to those if one of my friends asked me. My roommates and I use to all go to Zumba together so that was super helpful since my friends were literally at my house telling me to go.
Another thing I always did was to have a snack around 3 PM. Otherwise, I was hungry after work. 3 PM was enough time that I didn’t feel sick while working out but not enough time to be starving again.
7. Wear an activity tracker
If you’ve got a competitive side like me, wearing a fitness tracker can be helpful. I know when I had a FitBit I always wanted to crush that 10,000 step goal and now that I have an Apple Watch, I have a slight obsession with closing all my rings. (For those without an Apple Watch, the rings are movement, exercise, and stand goals). You can set the move goal so it’s realistic for you and then go for it!
It is important that these goals are realistic for you otherwise, you’re less likely to care. At least, that’s how I feel about it.
8. Find a workout program/routine you actually enjoy
This is probably the most important tip. If you don’t like what you are doing, you aren’t going to do it. You’re going to find all the excuses not to go and I wouldn’t blame you.
If you hate running, you probably shouldn’t sign up for a half marathon. This takes some trial and error, but you have to find a routine you actually like. I would suggest trying anything you find remotely interesting. There are so many free workout routines on Youtube so it’s easier now than ever to give it a go.
Sure, you aren’t going to feel like going to the gym every day even if you like what you’re doing. We just aren’t motivated like that as humans. That’s why consistency is key. If you’re consistent it’ll become a habit.
And as humans, we’re not going to keep doing something we don’t want to do when it’s avoidable. That’s why it’s important to like the routine you’re doing so it doesn’t feel like a chore.
9. Prioritize sleep and a well-balanced diet
One of the biggest excuses I have, when I don’t feel like going to the gym, is that I’m tired. Sometimes, it’s true. I feel exhausted. While it’s important to give your body rest if it needs it, if you’re constantly tired, it’s time to look at your sleep routine and your diet.
If you aren’t sleeping well and eating whole foods, you aren’t going to be able to perform well at the gym. Actually, you aren’t going to be able to be your best at any aspect of your life.
It’s important to take care of yourself. You can’t expect to perform at your best if you aren’t setting yourself up for success.
You should be aiming for at least 7 hours of sleep a night. That way your body can fully recover. You also have to be eating a balanced diet. One of the ways I maintain a healthy diet is by counting macros. Macros are the protein, fats, and carbs in our diets and essential in any diet. I could go on and on about macros but it is an easy way to help yourself feel better and more satisfied.
At the end of the day, we prioritize what is important. It seems like everyone is just getting busier and busier so you have to decide how you want to spend your time. If you don’t want to exercise, you aren’t going to try to add it to a busy schedule.
We find the time when we need to and the same goes for exercising. It’s the hard truth but saying you don’t have the time is just an excuse. Everyone can find the time. I know you can find twenty minutes in your schedule to at least go for a brisk walk.
Let me know in the comments below how you incorporate exercise into your busy schedule. Sharing is caring after all and I’d love to hear your ideas.
Until next time,