No Time To Exercise? Here Are 7 Solutions!


Do you want to exercise more, or begin a routine, but feel frustrated at trying to work it into your already packed schedule? If you don’t already workout regularly, finding time for exercise can feel impossible. But there are several things you can do…from shifting your perspective to sneaking it in throughout the day…read on!

(But first: you should know that I am not a personal trainer. The following are recommendations about time management. If you have any questions or concerns about beginning, or continuing, an exercise routine, consult with a personal trainer or your physician.)

How much time should you exercise?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that average, healthy American adults* should get AT LEAST:

Cardio - minimum of 2 hours, 30 minutes per week

  • 2 hrs 30 min to 5 hrs of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (brisk walking, fast dancing, recreational swimming, doubles tennis, biking slower than 10 mph, power yoga, aerobics classes) each week.

  • OR 1 hr 15 min to 2 hrs 30 min of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (running, swimming laps, singles tennis, biking faster than 10 mph, jumping rope, hiking uphill, HIIT workouts, kickboxing) each week.

  • OR a combo of both each week.

    Rule of thumb: 2 min of moderate-intensity counts as 1 min of vigorous-intensity…e.g. 30 min of brisk walking counts as 15 min of running.

Muscle Strengthening - 2 days per week

In addition to cardio, adults also need muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days each week. There is no “time” guideline for muscle-strengthening activity, simply work all major muscle groups twice per week (consult with a personal trainer for assistance with sets, reps, weight, etc.).

Flexibility Training

Doing stretching work (such as yoga or Tai Chi) is also an important part of an exercise routine. Although minutes spent doing these activities don’t count toward the total time requirement, stretching helps with joint mobility and is thought to reduce risk of injury. Again, consult with a personal trainer for specific how-to’s to ensure safety.

*Kids, older folks, pregnant women, and people with chronic disease or other issues have different guidelines than what’s listed here. For a summary of all guidelines read this…for complete, in-depth guidelines read this.

“But I’m already so busy. I don’t have any time!”

You might not want to hear this but the whole “I don’t have time” thing is a bunch of bologna. If you really want to exercise you CAN find the time in your day (I know you can!). People who train for marathons, regularly get to their local CrossFit box, or faithfully attend pilates classes don’t have more time in their schedule than you do and they don’t have a magic button that pauses time in order to get it done.

Fit people are regular people with jobs, commutes, kids, and responsibilities just like you…the difference is they make exercise a regular part of their day. It’s a priority.

You can be one of those people who makes time for exercise too! Here are a few ways to do it….

  1. Commit to including exercise as a regular part of your routine. Like eating, showering, and brushing your teeth, you do those things without considering it, right? You definitely “make” time to eat every day, yeah? Then you can “make” time for exercise too. It’s all about what you feel is a priority and what isn’t.

    Just like you wouldn’t consider leaving the house for the day without having showered and put on pants, fit people wouldn’t consider leaving the house without having also exercised.

  2. Attach the new habit to an existing one. One way to get a new daily habit to stick is to attach it to an existing habit, one you do all the time without thinking about. For example, maybe you always have a cup of coffee at the kitchen table in the morning while reading the news. Connect exercising to this existing habit by doing it immediately after you finish your cup of joe…immediately hit the mat/weights/treadmill and get your exercise in. If you do this consistently, it will become part of your normal routine. Without thinking about it much you’ll be in the habit of: coffee, exercise, shower.

    Exercising in the morning starts your day of with a win! Before you even get to work, you can already feel good about having accomplished something. It’s a great way to create a positive mindset to begin the day.

  3. Swap screen time for exercise time. American adults watch, on average, 4 hours of television EACH DAY! That doesn’t even include time scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. You have time to workout.

  4. Shift your perception of what regular exercise looks like. You don’t have to join a gym, pack workout clothes, drive there, change, workout for a whole hour, drive home…unless you love it, then great! But maybe exercise looks more like a 15 min workout first thing in the morning and then sneaking the rest in throughout the day or splitting it up between morning and evening sessions. No one says you can’t split up your workout time. Doesn’t that feel more do-able?

  5. Start off easy. Cramming in an hour of exercise a day might feel impossible. So start with 15 minutes. Just 15 minutes of movement. Do that most days of the week for a while until it becomes normal (see Tip #2 about attaching a new habit to an existing one). Once you’ve wedged exercise into your day it’ll be much easier to expand a little…you can try adding on 5 or 10 more minutes to your sessions.

  6. Wake up 15 minutes early. In the spirit of starting off easy, wake up just a few minutes early. Just 15 minutes early…you can do it! You won’t miss the few extra minutes of lost sleep and you’ll create more space in your morning to breathe and move. Once you’re in an exercise habit you’ll likely be ready for sleep at an earlier hour and fall asleep (and stay asleep) more easily…so rising early will be no problem!

  7. Sneak in exercise throughout the day. As mentioned in Tip #4 you’re allowed to split up your workout minutes! If you aim for the minimum of 150 minutes per week (with one day for rest), that’s about 25 minutes per day, 6 days a week. Bang out 15 minutes in the morning and you’re left with just 10 more minutes to get in during the day.

    Check out “8 Ways To Work In Working Out” for how to sneak in exercise throughout your day.

    Includes a downloadable 10-minute mini-workout you can do anywhere!

In the end, whatever stuff you want to do you will make time for…whether that’s watching your show, reading to your kids, working extra hours, playing games online, going out for drinks with friends, or anything else that brings you joy and satisfaction. Exercise can totally be on that list too! But you have to actually put it on the list. If you want it, you can have it…you deserve to have a life you love!

Sarah WalkerComment