by Caitlin Boyle for Discover and Play
If you’re up to your eyeballs in deadlines and dirty floors and hungry kids, it can be hard to prioritize exercise. But if it’s not a priority when it’s tough, it’s not going to be a priority when it’s easy, either. The key to setting and achieving fitness goals when juggling a busy schedule is this: don’t set yourself up to fail.
For starters, select fitness goals that are realistic. Try not to get so wrapped up in the number on the scale; instead, focus on being healthy enough to enjoy your life. And — most importantly — have fun! If your fitness routine is not fun, you’ll never stick with it long-term.
Some great fitness goals include running a mile without walking, holding a headstand, doing twenty push-ups in a row, learning all the steps to a Zumba song, keeping up with your children on the playground, taking the stairs to your office on the fifth floor without feeling winded, or trying a new fitness class every month. Keep your goals focused on what really matters — simply moving your body more.
Here are a few tips for fitting in fitness … no matter your schedule:
Plan Ahead. Plot your workouts at the beginning of the week. View them like appointments with an important business contact; you can’t just cancel because you’re feeling lazy. Keep a gym bag in your car or under your desk so you’re always ready to go.
Multitask. Read documents while pedaling on the stationary bike, or make a phone call while walking around your neighborhood. If you’re not up for working while sweating, spend your exercise time with a friend or your family. Push your toddler in a jogging stroller or ask your eight year old to bike next to you while you run. You can even exercise while doing chores. Do crunches while folding laundry, perform push-ups while mopping the floors, or walk to the store instead of driving.
Join a Gym Close to Work. Make exercise part of your commute — join a gym close to your job and pop in before or after work. You can even exercise on your break!
Balance. If you find yourself constantly exhausted or suffering from overuse injuries, you may be pushing yourself too hard. It’s not possible to do everything at every point in your life. Part of making fitness work with a busy schedule is knowing when you need to pull back. Remember that working long hours or taking care of young children or elderly family members is tremendously stressful; you may not be capable of doing as much as you used to. In this case, it’s important to cut yourself a break.
Something is Better Than Nothing. Walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, go on a fifteen minute stroll during your break, or sit on an exercise ball instead of in a chair. Stash a pedal exercise under your desk and ‘bike’ while you work on e-mails.
Get creative and seek out ways to move a bit more every day. After all, every bit counts!
Caitlin Boyle is a blogger, motivational speaker and author of the book Healthy Tipping Point: A Powerful Program for a Stronger, Happier You. She helps her husband run a holistic health clinic in Charlotte, N.C. She is a frequent contributor to Life and Beauty Weekly.