Who has time to exercise these days? The kids have sporting events that we must attend, there are school plays and concerts, we have gardens and yards to take care of, the boss asks us to work overtime to finish up some key projects, and the house is in need of some major cleaning. How in the world are we supposed to add exercise to our busy calendar?
The answer is, learn to be sneaky. Make exercise a priority and fit it into the nooks and crannies of your day. Research shows that small bursts of exercise spread throughout the day are just as effective as long drawn out workouts at the gym. And anything is better than nothing! Here are some sneaky ways to fit in exercise.
1. Add a short exercise routine to your morning routine
I know mornings can be pretty crazy and rushed, but you don’t need a lot of time to get some decent results. Try adding a 5-10 minute quick, intense workout to your morning, just before you get in the shower. Morning workouts are great at waking up your body and jump-starting your metabolism. Pinterest has tons of suggestions for quick and easy workouts that can be done in your bathroom with just a little time andno fancy equipment. You can try jumping jacks, pushups, burpees, and many others. When you’re done just jump right into the shower and get on with your day.
2. Take short breaks all day long
Our bodies were not meant to sit all day and our brains were not meantto focus all day without a break either. We are actually more effective and able to focus more intensely in short bouts. My goal during the work day is to work for about 45-50 minutes at a time. Then I get up from my desk and leave my office for about 5-10 minutes. Sometimes it’s just a quick restroom break and refilling my water cup, other times I’ll step outside to soak up a few minutes of sunshine, and a couple times a day my breaks are a little longer and more active. Since I work from home I can fold a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher for a few minutes to clear my head and get the blood flowing in my body again.
As much as you are able, try to set your workday up so that you can take an hourly break, away from your desk (just a few minutes is all you need). Get up and walk to your coworker’s office when you have a question, take the long way when you need to use the restroom or visit the water cooler, or maybe even give up your personal printer in your office in favor of using the department printer that requires a little bit of a walk. Move your trash can to the other side of the office or cubicle so that you have to stand up and take a few steps to throw something away.
At the very least, set a timer on your computer or phone for every hour to indicate that you need to stand up. I’ve worked in call center jobs before where I was literally tied to the desk for hours at a time and going for a walk was not an option. In these situations, you can still stand up every hour, take a few steps in place and stretch out your legs a bit.
3. Workplace calisthenics
Hopefully, you have one or two extended break periods throughout your day that can be used to sneak in a little more exercise. Find a semi-private area and sneak in some exercise. Depending on your workplace wardrobe and the location you find, you may be able to do lunges, squats, calf raises, push-ups, triceps dips, planks, or crunches. Or just take a brisk walk around the building if you don’t have a private place or suitable outfit.
4. Energize your commute
If you live near your work, consider walking or riding your bike a couple times a week. Nearby could be defined differently for everyone, but if you are within three miles, I would seriously consider walking. My husband works about ten miles away from our home and often rides his bike in.
Obviously, this is a little more of a challenge if you are in charge of transporting your kids to school, but not impossible. One of the dads at our old daycare would drive his kids to daycare in the morning with his bike on the rack of the car. He would leave the car parked at the daycare all day and then bike the rest of the way into work. Get creative and consider how you can make your commute a little more active, even if it’s just parking in the far parking lot instead of right in front of your building.
5. Dinner prep workout
You chop your veggies, maybe brown some meat, mix it all together, and then wait while your dinner simmers or bakes. You could sit and relax after your long hard day and I wouldn’t blame you. But you could also squeeze in a little exercise during this time. Try some counter push-ups, lunges across the kitchen, some yoga poses, or whatever suits your desires and space.
6. After dinner family walk
In the Spring and Summer, the weather is often gorgeous most days and the sun doesn’t set until after many kids’ bedtimes. Take advantage and implement a nightly family walk around the block. You don’t have to go far, just get outside and move around a little bit. You’ll soak up some vitamin D, spend some precious time with your kids, and help them burn off some extra energy before bedtime, what’s not to love?
7. TV time fitness
Yes, I’m going to go there. Your beloved sit on the couch and veg time. It feels so good to just sit and relax, you’ve worked hard all day, fought the homework battles, cooked the dinners, cleaned up after everyone, made it through the bedtime routines and now you have a few, peaceful minutes to yourself. We often put off working out for a variety of reasons, many of them being that we are tired. But I’ll let you in on a little secret, I’ve never regretted a workout after I was done, and I bet most people would say the same thing.
I’m not asking you to give up your TV time, just maybe consider how you could make it a little healthier. I often pull out my tablet and watch my shows (with Hulu or Netflix) while getting in a workout on the elliptical. You can also do all of the other calisthenic exercises I’ve previously mentioned while watching TV in your living room. Maybe you just start with making it your goal to get up and walk around during all of the commercials. You can start small. I bet you just might get addicted to active TV watching if you give it a try.
8. Go strong on the weekends
Maybe you implement several of the ideas above and you still feel like you aren’t getting much exercise accomplished during the week. Never give up. Some exercise is better than a week of no exercise. Fit your workouts in wherever you can find the space. I’ve mentioned that I’m currently training to run a half-marathon (again). This means I run for hours every weekend. Sometimes this means I wake up at 6:00 on a Saturday morning and sometimes I sneak away on Sunday evening when everyone else is relaxing and getting ready for the coming week.
Last night I ran for nearly two and a half hours and then came home just in time to help get my kids in the bath and tucked in bed. I was stinky, sweaty, and hungry as I rocked my little boy to sleep but I made it work and I was proud of myself for putting in the effort. Whenever you find the time, put in the work, and then enjoy the benefits of your improved health.
It’s not easy balancing all of the needs of our daily life and trying to remember to take care of ourselves, but the reality is that in order for us to be the best moms that we can be, we must take care of ourselves. Exercise isn’t important just so we can look good in our summer clothes, it gives us energy, the ability to move freely, endurance, health, and can fight off sickness and depression. It is vitally important that we take the time to care for our bodies. We only get one and if our bodies aren’t able to function properly, we won’t be able to accomplish all that God has designed for us to do.
Today’s Action Step
What strategies have you found that help you to sneak in exercise during your busy week? What do you struggle with the most when it comes to taking care of yourself? Share in the comments so we can help each other and then stand up and move a little.
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