Too busy to work out? You’re not alone. Customer surveys found that nearly 65% of women who sign up or gym memberships end up canceling them after less than a year because they simply don’t have time to attend the classes. It’s not an excuse – it’s real life. Aside from office responsibilities, women usually have a “Second Shift” waiting for them at home: making dinner, cleaning, and taking care of the kids. Weekends are equally packed with errands and family activities.
Don’t you wish chasing deadlines and juggling tasks burned actual calories? But it doesn’t, and if you’re serious about getting fit, you need to know how to establish a good workout regimen you are short on time. This article can give you tried and tested tips from busy women who’ve stuck to their exercise routine despite their hectic schedule.
Get a HIIT Workout
Some workouts can you give you great significant physical gains even if they’re shorter than an hour. For example, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) takes only 30 minutes and doesn’t even require complicated gym equipment. You alternate intense exercises like sprinting with easier exercises like walking. Each interval lasts 20 to 30 seconds, so you’re constantly pushing your body and bringing up your heart rate.
Several studies have found that HIIT is even more effective in improving weight and burning fat than steady state cardio exercises like treadmills or running.
If you’re out of shape or have a heart condition, don’t jump into an HIIT routine without talking to your doctor and fitness instructor. They can customize a workout plan that is safe and will gradually bring up your fitness level.
Pick an Exercise You Enjoy
You’re more likely to go to a workout if you derive real pleasure from it. It’ll feel like a reward rather than another chore you need to do at the end of a very long day. If you like dancing, then sign up for Zumba. If nature and silence relax you, then take up jogging and look for the nearest scenic route.
Let’s say you dislike all exercise or the motivation and novelty have worn off, and you’re not inspired to work out. Find a way to make the experience pleasant. Invite a friend to join your class and turn it into your girl’s bonding session. Buy cute workout clothes. Make a workout playlist with your favorite songs.
By now you might be thinking, “I hate running!” (or Tabata, or what have you)—And that’s okay. We each need to be realistic and to know ourselves. One person’s running is another person’s yoga, weight training, or dance. Flexing your self-discipline muscles is often necessary when it comes to exercise, but make it easier on yourself by choosing a form of exercise that fits your lifestyle, personality, and taste. Not sure what you love to do? Don’t be afraid to experiment with different forms of exercise until you find what works best for you.
Develop a Plan B (and C… and D)
Exercise doesn’t just happen at the gym. If you don’t have time to attend a class, then have available options ready at home. Buy fitness DVDs that you can use at your most convenient time, or print out routines that involve simple exercises like jumping jacks, sit-ups and planks.
You can also ask your gym about other classes. If your evenings are suddenly very hectic, then ask them what classes they have in the early morning or lunch break. These may not be your first choice, but at least you have options.
Download Fitness Tracker Apps
Missing one workout because a meeting is understandable. But once you start missing several in a row, it’s not your schedule that’s a problem: it’s motivation. You’re a smart, successful woman who can get things done at work and at home – there is no reason to believe that you can’t make it happen for yourself!
The only difference between workouts and the rest of your responsibilities is that you don’t feel the guilt and pressure you’d get from an angry boss or a disappointed child. Fitness tracker apps will provide that internal warning system when you’re completely falling off your regimen. You’ll get notifications, charts that summarize your exercise (or lack thereof), and intense satisfaction when you’ve hit your exercise targets.
Many apps are free, and some are linked to community forums where you can share questions and get emotional support. If you’re aiming to lose weight, some fitness tracker apps will also let you input calories taken and calories burned.
Get a Fitness Buddy or Trainer
You’re less likely to miss a workout if there’s someone waiting for you at the gym. You can pair up with a friend, or if you have the budget, pay for a trainer. Trainers will customize programs per your goals and available schedule, and they’ll also be on your case when you don’t show up. We all need a little tough love sometimes.
Choose Something (Anything!) Over Nothing
If you don’t know how to establish a good workout regimen when you are short on time, then tell yourself: “Any exercise is better than no exercise.” If you can’t work out for one hour, then do it for thirty minutes. If you’re too tired to do an HIIT session, then at least do a Pilates DVD. The key is to sustain the momentum and establish the habit of exercising. Eventually, your body will expect and crave the adrenalin rush the way some people need a cup of coffee at the start of each day.
Turn Everyday Activities Into Exercise Opportunities
Exercise doesn’t have to be a formal routine. If you’re busy, then just incorporate more physical activity into each day. There are plenty of every day errands and routines where you can burn calories and stretch those muscles! Take the stairs instead of the elevator, or wear hand weights while you wash the windows and walls. Too late to go to that Zumba class? Turn on your speakers and dance, just dance! IF you’re a mom, take the dog for a walk or play ball with your kids.
It helps if you realize that workouts and exercise are really part of a bigger lifestyle approach where you want to be more active and healthy. So just think, “Is there any way to turn what I do into something that will use my body, strength, endurance and balance?”
Look for 24-Hour Gyms or Flexible Memberships
Many gyms and fitness centers are recognizing that there is a huge market for busy women who can’t exercise during “traditional” gym hours. That’s why there are some gyms that are open 24 hours, 7 days a week. There are also clubs and memberships that give you a “Universal Pass” to several participating classes or centers, so there are more ways for you to sneak a workout into your schedule.
If you don’t have a gym or membership like that in your area, try speaking to your gym’s customer service or your class instructor. They are usually more than happy to help and can show you how to establish a good workout regimen when you are short on time. For example, your yoga teacher can advise you on poses or routines you can do at home, or your trainer can develop short, high-impact sets so you can be in and out of the gym in 40 minutes.
Make It Convenient to Exercise
Let’s face it: once you’re in the gym, you’re usually psyched to exercise. The problem is getting there. We feel tired and lazy, or stressed out by the idea of preparing for a workout. Hurdle this moment by making it very convenient to exercise the minute you’re available. Keep a packed gym bag in your car trunk or under your office desk. If the only time you must exercise is in the early morning, sleep in your gym clothes, so all you must do is literally run out the door.
Enlist the Support and Help of Family and Friends
Women are often hesitant to ask for help. We’re afraid to “be a bother” or inconvenience others. But the people who care about you and respect you will probably be happy that you’re doing something positive for yourself.
So, if you’re swamped with work and responsibilities and – despite all these tips – you don’t know how to establish a good workout regimen when you are short on time, ask for help. If you’re a mom, sit down and create a family schedule with your partner, so he can assume household or parenting responsibilities on the days you need to exercise. If your work schedule is getting in the way, talk to your boss about adjusting your work hours. Maybe you can come in earlier in the morning, so you can exercise during your lunch break or leave earlier in the afternoon.
Set Priority Levels for Tasks
Do you really need to do everything on your to-do list? Women tend to embrace “The Superwoman Myth” and try to be it all and do it all for everyone. However, you can’t give anything to other people if you don’t give anything to yourself. Constant stress and weight problems will affect your health and mood. Or, in very clear terms: you won’t be of much use to your company or your family if you’re sick or dead.
Exercise isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity that will allow you do what you need to do. Set it as a high priority, and then either delegate or completely remove other tasks that have less impact on your health and quality of life.
If you can’t delegate a task, then think of ways to do it quickly or more efficiently. Instead of cooking dinner, freeze a batch of meals on weekends that you can reheat in the following days. Or invest in a slow cooker that you can leave on while you’re at the gym. You may balk at the idea of creating shortcuts, but when you look at it, is cooking a fancy gourmet dinner more important than preventing heart attacks or boosting your self-esteem?
Reward Yourself When You Stick to Your Exercise Regimen
It’s hard to stick to an exercise routine, so you deserve a pat on the back when you! Instead of counting calories or watching the weighing scale, just be happy that you’re exercising regularly and doing something positive for yourself. Over focusing on your weight or shape will make you frustrated and feed the temptation to skip class. “Why am I doing this, I’m not getting thinner anyway,” you’ll grumble.
But when you praise yourself just for showing up – for getting your butt off the couch and finding how to establish a good workout regimen when you are short on time – you will feel so good that you will do it again, and again, and again.
It Always Seems Impossible Until It’s Done
These are just some ways to fix your schedule or motivate yourself when you find it impossible to stick to your routine. But the bottom line is motivation and commitment to yourself. As the iconic Nike ad tells us, “Just Do It.” We acknowledge that time and scheduling are real problems, and you’re not just making excuses. You’re very busy, very tired, and very stressed. Nevertheless, problems are meant to be solved. If it matters to you, you will find a way.
You may not get as fit as quickly as someone who can afford to be at the gym for several hours a day, but you will slowly but surely reach your fitness goals – if you don’t give up. Remember: it always seems impossible until it’s done. Years from now you will look back at all the effort and sacrifice and think, “Wow I did it. It was hard, and I didn’t know how to establish a good workout regimen when you are short on time … but I made it happen.”