How to Find Time to Exercise – Time Management, Planning and Hacks

Written by Elly McGuinness

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Whether it’s due to work, study, family, or social commitments, “lack of time” commonly comes up as the biggest perceived barrier to exercise. So if you’re struggling to find time to exercise, you’re not alone. The great news is that there are plenty of simple time management hacks and techniques you can use to help you fit exercise into your day.

In my opinion, the most interesting part of all this is that you might not end up needing any of these. Perhaps it’s simply your mindset that needs to shift. Whether you need to reconsider your beliefs around what an exercise session “should” entail, or you really do just need some practical tips to utilize your time better, we’ve got you sorted.

Top tips for finding time to exercise

You’re probably aware that we all have the same amount of time in one day. We can’t get “more” of it as such, but we can change the way we’re spending our time. That’s why I like the term “self-management” since you technically can’t “manage” time.

Just as there are ways to make healthy eating a priority when you are busy, there are also many ways to make time to exercise. Here are some of the best practical tips to get you started.

Review your typical day and what you spend your time doing

A great first step towards finding time to exercise is to take an audit of what you’re currently doing in a typical day. Sometimes you need to look at the “big picture” to create space in your life for things like exercise and leisure.

What are you doing during each time chunk in your day? And what could you be doing differently?

Some key questions to ask during this exercise are:

  1. What can I delegate or outsource? Which jobs could I pass to my kids, spouse, or colleagues?
  2. What am I spending time on that does not add value to my life?
  3. At what times during my day am I trying to multitask?

[It’s a commonly perceived myth that multitasking helps you to get more done. Working on one thing at a time will help you to stay engaged and focused on the task at hand. Overall, this should help increase your productivity so you can get more done in a shorter period of time]

  1. Do I spend a lot of time procrastinating?

[If you answered “yes”, choose to do your biggest, most difficult tasks first. This strategy was made famous in Brian Tracy’s book “Eat that frog”].

  1. What am I going to stop doing, do less of (e.g. social media scrolling?!), or say “no” to going forward?

When you take stock of everything you’re doing you’ll be able to identify the times where you’re not using your time effectively. From there, you may be able to find a slot that you could use for exercise.

How to find time to exercise-lady doing yoga stretch on grass

Planning and preparation

It’s important to plan and prepare for healthy eating, and these skills can also help you to make time for exercise. A few specific ideas include

  • Scheduling your exercise session into your calendar and setting reminders
  • Exercising in a consistent time slot to help build an exercise habit
  • Going to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual and waking 30 minutes earlier to exercise. This can be a good approach to finding time for exercise before the events of the day sabotage your exercise intentions
  • Getting prepared for your exercise session the day before. Lay out or pack your workout clothing and drink bottle so they’re ready to go

Change your fitness mindset

Do you believe that fitness has to be “done” a certain way? For example, maybe you have always gone to the gym to complete a one-hour training session. If this is the way you’ve usually approached your fitness program, then perhaps you haven’t considered all the possibilities.

The chances are that you’re going to find it challenging to carve out an extra hour or two in your day for fitness if you’re not already in that habit. Because let’s be honest – it’s not just an hour for your gym session. You’ve also got to account for the time to get there and back, plus any other considerations such as preparation beforehand and showering after.

There are several reasons that the gym is becoming a less popular place to train, and time commitment is one of them. The great news is that you don’t need an hour-long workout at the gym to improve your fitness.

Change your fitness mindset and adopt a time-saving approach to exercise

A few points to consider that can help you change your fitness mindset so that you can find time to exercise:

  • At-home workouts can save you significant preparation and traveling time. Try these five great workouts you can do in a small space in your living room and find out how to get started with yoga at home
  • Short workouts such as HIIT can be very effective. Alternatively, short blocks of 5-10 minutes of movement is also a good option (e.g. doing a few quick sets of bodyweight exercises)
  • Incidental exercise is the type of movement you do throughout your day that is not a planned exercise session. When you include plenty of incidental exercise into your day you’ll be living a fitter lifestyle in general. Examples of incidental exercise include working or biking to work instead of driving, and taking the stairs instead of the lift
  • If your day “gets away” on you and you decide you don’t have time for your full planned exercise session, just do something. If you planned for 30 minutes, do 10 instead
  • Make your social activities active in nature. This is a great time “management” hack. Meet friends for a walk, jog, or game of tennis instead of going to a restaurant

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