Rethink and Remake Your Exercise Schedule

You won't find time for fitness unless you really look for it. Here's how.

Woman with exercise ball
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images

If you're looking to power up your exercise schedule (and if you aren't trying to add more fitness to your life, why not?), you probably know some of the classic advice: Get up early; use little chunks of time; take the stairs instead of the elevator. Those are all sensible solutions—that's why you hear them a lot.

But sometimes you need to get more creative. Maybe you're already getting up at 5:30 a.m.

to commute to work, or because you have a toddler. Maybe you've been taking the stairs for years and it's just not making a difference. When that's the case, it's time to rethink the exercise schedule.

Make It Simple

I recently read a post by a blogger who had lost 25 pounds. She changed her diet, but she also created a new fitness plan: She would simply work out every day, for whatever amount of time she had available. This might mean 15 minutes at 7 a.m., or 60 minutes at 5 p.m., or 20 minutes at 9 p.m. At first I thought this was highly unrealistic. You could easily just decide "I don't have time today." But if you're disciplined, this could be the perfect way to challenge yourself to find those 10 or 15 or 45 minutes and grab them, every single day.

Stop. Driving. Everywhere.

Seriously, this is the easiest way to add more fitness to your life. Walk (or bike) your kids to school (click that link for ways to overcome common obstacles.) Walk yourself to work, or walk at work: from floor to floor for meetings, around the neighborhood at lunchtime.

Walk to church or the post office or your child's soccer game. If a pedometer or activity tracker would motivate you, get one ASAP; soon you'll find more and more opportunities to fit in more daily steps.

Dig Deeper

To use your time wisely, you have to realize what you have to work with. It took me years to notice that I could hop on the elliptical machine or take a walk in the 20 minutes between dropping my kids at school and the start of my twice-a-week yoga class.

Wham! Suddenly I had 40 more minutes of exercise in my weekly schedule. Try this: Whenever you pull out your phone to kill time, ask yourself if you could be doing a mini-workout instead.

Make a Trade

Sometimes, something's gotta give. Could you delegate your school drop-off or pick-up to a partner or babysitter? Drop a volunteer commitment to free up some time? Do something that feels really drastic, like flexing your hours at work? Your health is worth it. Ask your spouse or a trusted friend to help you. He or she might see an option that you've missed.

Go with the Flow

What works today may not work tomorrow, or next month. So be ready, especially when seasons change. Will your kids or other family members be on a different schedule in summer? Will winter weather or lack of daylight affect when and how you work out? Have a plan in advance for how you'll smash these challenges.

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