5 tips to fit exercise into your day

I don't know anyone that would argue against the benefits of exercise, so let's start this series on exercise with the real issue most people face - lack of time. Here are my best tips on carving out time for exercise in your day.

1. Make exercise a priority. Take stock of all the things in your life that are important to you - even go so far as to make a list and rank your priorities in order. Where does exercise fall on this list? If you value your health and want to live your best life, then it should be close to the top. Make it clear to those close to you that exercise is a priority and call on your family, friends, and even co-workers, to help you make this happen. Your spouse can watch the kids for an hour, explain to your kids why you need to go to the gym, and grab a co-worker for a walk during your lunch break.

2. Make exercise a habit. This is really key for me. If I get out of the habit of exercising on a regular basis, I have almost zero inertia to get started again. Think of exercise like sleep - something you need every day to make you feel better and more productive. Then it isn't a matter of if but when it happens. Once you have a habit of exercising regularly, you start feeling the rewards of exercise - more energy, a positive outlook, better sleep, higher metabolism - and you won't want to lose those benefits. A body in motion stays in motion.

3. Rise and Shine. Think you don't have time for exercise? Think again. How often does someone need your time at 5 or 6 in the morning? (New moms and those in the construction world like my sister, not included). I know it isn't easy, but getting up a little earlier and getting in your exercise first thing in the morning is the best way to make sure it doesn't get pushed aside with a busy day and unexpected commitments. And it feels so good to start your day with a little sweat session. Try it, you'll see.

4. Be creative. Your daily exercise doesn't always have to look the same and include a full 30 minutes on a treadmill. Play with your kids - and play hard like they do! Work in the garden, walk to the store and always take the stairs. Do push ups at the end of the slide while at the park - who cares if you get a few stares? Remember, every little bit counts and some days these little blasts of movement are all you can get.

5. Cultivate a lifestyle that includes exercise. This last point is really a culmination of the first four and something that will occur over time. A lifestyle that includes exercise means finding friends with similar interests, joining a gym or a running group, encouraging your spouse to go for a bike ride with you, and teaching your kids early on the benefits of being active. Even if you have never considered yourself an athlete or someone that likes to exercise, surround yourself with people that value and enjoy exercise and the momentum and positive energy will rub off.

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Practice what you preach, right? *How do I fit in exercise on a regular basis? I don't get in as much exercise as I would like and much less than I used to. For me, the challenge is having two small kids that I really want to spend as much time with as possible when I'm not working. The best way to ensure I get in some exercise is to go for a run by 6am. Now that Izzy is a year old, she no longer wakes up crazy early and I can count on both kids to sleep til 6:30am.  It's light out early these days and I feel energized for my day when I come home after an early run - especially if everyone is still asleep and I can enjoy a cup of coffee in peace. What a treat! If I don't have a small body in bed with me in the am, I try to go for an early run a couple times a week. But I'm realistic about it -  I won't do this every day. And I don't let myself feel guilty when I don't/can't.

My next best bet is to run with the double stroller. I can spend time with the kids and get in my run. Luckily, both kids have always liked the running stroller. I try to pick them up from school with the stroller a couple times a week - I can make it a 3-5 mile loop with a stop at the park on the way home. The kids are only in the stroller half the time and I am only pushing 50 pounds of extra weight half the time. It's a win win!


On weekends, Ryan and I lay out our plans and decide when we can both get in a longer run, a yoga class or a bike ride. We plan the weekend around our workouts if we have to, especially if we are both training for something (that didn't work so well this spring - getting our house ready to sell and both of us training for a half-marathon didn't mesh. But we will set new goals and try again.). I applaud the Weekend Warrior - if that is the only time you have to exercise, use it well.

How about you? How do you fit exercise into your day? What is your biggest time constraint/hurdle when it comes to exercise? What can you do to change that?


*Disclaimer: Lest anyone think I've got this all figured out and manage my fitness goals flawlessly, rest assured it is still a work in progress for me. This is how I try to make it work during a good week, when I'm not stressed with work, caring for a sick baby, or a single parent.

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