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Fitting Activity Into a Busy Lifestyle

One of the biggest complaints I hear as a personal trainer is…

I would love to exercise more, but I just don’t have time!!

Yup, I get it!  We’re all busy and sometimes it can be tough to find time to fit in a workout, even though we know it’s important.  There are lots of reasons –

  • Working long hours
  • Long commute
  • Family time
  • Getting kids to and from daycare and activities
  • Work-related travel
  • Keeping in touch with friends
  • Other important activities

Finding time for a 45-minute workout can be challenging enough, but if you need to drive to the gym, wait for a machine to open up and drive back home, suddenly your 45-minute workout has eaten up two hours of your day!  And sometimes finding the time for a ‘real’ workout means getting up at 5am, or going to the gym at 10pm – which isn’t always easy.

Here’s the good news: The American College of Sports Medicine *and* the American Heart Association agree that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (equivalent to a brisk walk), 5 days per week, is enough for heart health.  And that time can be broken up into as little as 10 minute segments without losing any of the benefits!  Read on for some ideas on how to meet the minimum recommendations of 150 minutes per week, even when it seems like your schedule is working against you.


If your hotel has a gym, use it!  But if it doesn’t (or if you’d prefer to work out in the privacy of your own room or outdoors) here are some suggestions that won’t add extra bulk to your suitcase:

  • Pack a workout DVD in your laptop bag.  You can play it on your laptop if the hotel doesn’t have DVD players.
  • Stuff a stretchy workout band (you can pick them up at Target for a few bucks) inside one of your sneakers – here’s a workout routine that you can do with one band and a desk chair:
  • Check with the concierge for a local map and some walking trails.  If you have a couple of hours free, walking a new city is the best way to learn about it!
  • Hit the stairs!!!!!  If your hotel has more than one floor, you’ve got a serious cardio workout waiting for you just down the hall.  Warm up by walking briskly up and down the hall, then run up a few flights.  Catch your breath on whatever floor you’re on by walking briskly to one end and back, then do another few flights of stairs (if the hotel only has a couple of floors, catch your breath by walking down the stairs).  Keep this up for 30 minutes and you’ve just gotten a great workout!
  • Go to the local mall and power walk while you window-shop.

Too much to do around the house to get in a workout?  Do both!

  • You can easily make cleaning activities into an aerobic workout – run up a flight of stairs every couple minutes between tasks, push the vacuum cleaner while doing walking lunges, see how fast you can run around the bed while changing the sheets, wash the windows without a stepladder (i.e., jump in the air to get the very top parts), do squats while folding laundry…you get the picture.  If you have kids, make a game of it!  You’ll have a clean house, tired kids, and your workout will be complete!
  • Cut the lawn, weed the garden, rake leaves, shovel snow.  All of these activities require strength and cardio fitness and qualify as a great workout!
  • Walk the dog – he needs exercise as much as you do!
  • Wash & vacuum the car…by hand

Stuck at work all day without a break?  Try these ideas:

Family time

  • Make an obstacle course in the backyard – here are some great ideas using household items:
  • Play tag with the kids!
  • If your family loves video games, think about getting a Wii or an XBox Kinect – or any video game that gets you out of your chair while you play.  The first time I played Wii tennis with my husband for a half-hour, I was sore for 2 days afterwards!
  • Teenagers want to go shopping?  Drop them at the mall and then power walk either indoors or out while they shop.
  • Waiting to pick someone up from school, or watching a soccer game? Keep a pair of walking shoes in the trunk of your car. You may be able to walk while waiting to drive children home from their activities.
  • Active family activities.  Make a list of ideas with your family, then post it on the fridge for when someone says ‘I’m BORED’.  Here’s a few thoughts to get you started:

Go bowling – Plant a garden – Go roller skating – Go ice skating – Rent a canoe – Go for a swim – Rent bikes – Take a hike – Go camping – Pedal a paddleboat – Go square dancing – Rake leaves – Scavenger hunt in your yard – Jump rope – Play Frisbee – See who can hula hoop the longest – Play tag – Create a family dance routine – Build a snowman or snow fort – Have a snowball fight! – Visit an amusement park or zoo – Walk the dog, your neighbor’s dog or a pound dog

Keeping in touch with friends:

Get the picture?  A big part of fitting activity into a busy life is to make it a lifestyle – if you think of ways to stay on your feet & stay moving while you’re doing other things you’ll find it’s easy to keep moving and use your body while you’re getting other things done.

Let life be your workout!

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