This is one of the most common complaints and excuses, and honestly one of the most valid. I remember getting up at 6 am (I am NOT a morning person), taking an hour to get to work in traffic, working my butt off at work – often having to work a little later, driving home for an hour in traffic, wanting to sit down and rest but cooking instead because of the time I got home, eat and then doing the dishes, still having to shower and find time to relax for a bit, spend time with my husband and then go to bed so that I would have enough energy to do it all again tomorrow. This was my day for close on a year, without having to see to kids, or studying part time, or anything like that. Lack of time truly is a valid complaint. However…
When something is important to us (and your health should be), we make time for it. That episode of whatever it is you like to watch was important enough to make time for. Your kids are important to make time for. You make time for food don’t you? If you don’t make time for these things, you probably should start working on that :p We all have a set amount of hours in the day, and we all need to make time for those things that matter to us. You also may need to accept that you need to ask for help sometimes. You don’t have to absolutely everything yourself. You also will need to learn to say no sometimes, often we are way too nice and just keep saying yes, yes, yes and piling more work or duties onto our plate. So for those of you who really struggle to find time for a set exercise session, here are a few ideas:
Exercise while you watch TV
During ad breaks, do some squats, push ups, sit ups or jog on the spot. Try vary what you do each ad break and you should end up with a total body workout. If it is later at night, hold the jogging and rather do slow bodyweight exercises (some are mentioned above), or slowly lift your dumb bells, it will keep your heart rate down and I find that I can still sleep afterwards. If you find you can’t sleep after doing that, rather save it for earlier in your day or evening.
In the event that there are no ad breaks, there are still exercises you can do facing the TV, e.g squats, lunges, tricep dips using the couch, standing side crunches, jogging on the spot, etc. Get creative 🙂 If you need help or the exercises explained, ask in the comments, or google them.
Exercise while doing normal everyday things
You can get really creative here. When you are cooking, you can do butt clenches, just tighten up and release. You can try kegel exercises (the muscles you use to stop peeing, just tighten and release). You can also tighten your tummy muscles and release. These should still keep you stable enough to keep stirring without causing spills and such. During a break in the cooking, when you don’t need to be as hands on, you can do push ups against the wall (standing up straight and just leaning forward using your arms to catch you).
When you brush your teeth, you can do most of the exercises mentioned in the cooking section. You can also do calf raises, a wall sit for the duration of your teeth brushing session (a squat against the wall), or hold onto the sink and do hip abduction exercises (standing up straight and taking your leg out to the side and back in).
You can do kegels and your ab squeezes whilst in the car, say every time you stop at a robot. Take the stairs instead of the lift at work, or park further away from the shop entrance when you do your shopping. Take a walk at lunch time if you are able to get out. Even 10 mins is fine.
Household duties and family responsibilities
Anyone who has spent time cleaning a house, or their flat, knows exactly what I am talking about here. Cleaning = exercise. “nuff said” :p Seriously though, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, scrubbing, dusting, you can get a total body workout here. The harder you clean, the more you exercise. This is using something that I consider terrible to do something I consider awesome 😀
Playing with your kids is also exercise. Chasing them, or letting them chase you, taking a walk with them in the stroller, playing with the ball, etc, are all good forms of exercise. If you have a baby that can’t run around yet, you can still make the best of this by using them as a weight when you squat, or lulling them to sleep by holding them in your arms and going from side to side. Even if you are sitting on the ground, playing with blocks or building a puzzle, keeping your back and shoulders from slouching is an amazing workout, especially if you have poor posture generally.
Apps and other quick workouts
There are two apps that I have tried, most recently the abs and the glute workouts by Lumowell. They have other targeted workouts too, such as arms, and legs. They have free versions on the Play store, and you find the videos on YouTube. The workouts are bodyweight exercise routines (at least the ones that I have tried) and are all under 10 mins. If you are willing to pay, and it’s not too much, you can get a workout plan and no annoying ads, cool downs, diet and other healthy tips. Check out their website
I have also tried the Passion4Profession apps. They also have a few apps and have effective but short routines, under 10 mins. You can check them out here. There are many other apps available too, be sure to check the reviews to see which are good and listen to the safety instructions given for each exercise.
I am a HUGE taebo fan, I love, love, loooooove me some taebo. Billy Blanks made a few DVDs that even have an 8 min workout option, or if you have 20 mins, there is a 20 min option too. You can check out a bunch of quicker workout DVDs online and at your local fitness stores.
Finally, if you are up to it, high intensity interval training. Search google, the benefits are numerous including a better rate of fat burn, burning calories, and having your workout done asap. You can find them in magazines, on YouTube, on apps, you can even devise your own. You can use bodyweight exercises (e.g. squats, skaters, crunches and bridges, do as many of each as you can in a minute and rest for 15-30 secs), you can sprint for a minute, and then jog for 15-30 secs. Its best to start slow and easy and pace yourself, these workouts can be incredibly intense and if you are in any way unhealthy, check with your doctor first. You can even alternate jogging and walking if you want to take things easy.
The bottom line
There are so many things that you can do to sneak in exercise, and there are many options for quick workouts. You can still meet the minimum requirements for physical activity doing three 10 min slots in a day. Saying that though, if all you have is 5-10 mins in a day that you can devote to exercise, that is still better than not doing anything at all. Keep positive, do your best and you will be on your way to a healthier you 🙂