25 Ways to Make Time for Fitness

16. Take your show on the road.

As you’re packing for a business trip or vacation, be sure to include your workout clothes, says tennis champ Chris Evert. Just packing them signals to your brain that you intend to make time for exercise. As for what to do? “Spend 15 to 20 minutes swimming laps, running stairs, or jogging on the hotel treadmill first thing in the morning,” she says. No gym or pool? Ask the front desk if they offer guest passes to a neighborhood gym. “Or, when my schedule is tight,”says Evert, “I do some yoga while catching the morning news on TV.”

17. Hit “play.”

“Exercise DVDs are cost-effective, private and flexible, and they allow you to stop and start your workouts based on real-life time constraints,” says Hammer. (So, for example, you can do laundry while working out.) Hammer used this approach to shed more than 100 pounds while going to school full-time and working. Try Pilates workouts from Brooke Siler (Anchor Bay), fitness training with Erin O’Brien (Acacia) or yoga with Shiva Rea (Acacia).

18. Rise and shine.

For most people, the day only gets more demanding as it goes on, says celebrity trainer and fitness DVD star Sara Haley. “Exercising first thing in the morning will ensure you fit it in,” she says. Lay out your workout clothes the night before, she suggests. “This way you won’t waste any time and can’t claim you forgot anything.”

19. Ditch your ride.

Whenever feasible, hop on the bus, train or subway, or ride your bike to work or to run errands, says Haley. If you can’t do it every day, try for once a week. People who take alternative transportation tend to get more exercise than daily car commuters.

20. Master the micro-workout.

Whether you’re at work or home, never let yourself sit idle for more than a couple of hours, says Mark Lauren, certified military physical-training specialist, triathlete and author of You Are Your Own Gym(Light of New Orleans Publishing, 2010). Build in a loop around the block when you grab a cup of coffee, or plan 10-minute breaks at regular intervals to stretch or do a brief circuit workout. “I like to throw in random sets of body-weight exercise throughout the day. One hard set of 12 or fewer reps won’t make most people sweat if they’re in an air-conditioned building, but it will be enough to make a difference if done several times throughout each day,” says Lauren. It takes less than 30 seconds to do 15 pushups or sit-ups, he points out. So don’t say you don’t have time. Set an alarm on your computer to remind you. (For specific exercise ideas, see “Workday Workouts.”)

21. Hit it hard.

“When you’re short on time, focus on higher-payoff workouts,” says Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman(Crown Archetype, 2010). “If you’re focused, there’s no reason you can’t get results in less than 20 minutes a week.” His favorite routines? Kettlebell swings (consider keeping a kettlebell by your desk) and slow-motion resistance training. “One female case study cut her body fat 3 percentage points in roughly four weeks with only five minutes of kettlebell swings three times a week,” he says. The key is staying focused and maintaining a high intensity throughout the mini-workout session. For a fast and furious workout idea, check out weightlifting complexes in “Simplicity Complex” — or search on “HIIT” (short for high-intensity interval training).

22. Wear your pedometer.

“As we get older, we typically take fewer steps per day,” says Wayne Andersen, MD, medical director of Take Shape For Life, a nationwide health and lifestyle coaching program based in Owings Mills, Md. “By age 60, most people are down to about 4,500 steps. Your goal should be to maintain 10,000.” The best way to do that is to get a pedometer at your local sporting goods store, or download an app that converts your cell phone to a pedometer. Those wearing pedometers tend to walk more because they’re more conscious of their steps. Looking for extra credit? “Climbing a flight of stairs is the equivalent of walking 100 steps,” says Andersen.

23. Adopt a DIY mentality.

“Start doing things by hand instead of letting a machine do them for you,” suggests Andersen. This might include snow shoveling, pushing a lawn mower, raking leaves or hanging laundry to dry. “Also, ditch remote controls and other automatic devices that undermine your body’s energy use.”

24. Work while you wait.

Katy Gaenicke, mother of two boys, found a creative solution to her “no time” dilemma. She spends a lot of time on the sidelines of football practices and games near their home in Boston. “I started bringing my bike with me and riding around near the fields while my son practices,” she says. Evert has used this technique, too: “Instead of cramming in one more errand while your kids are at their activities, put on your sneakers and
take a walk for the hour.”

25. Phone it in.

Have a conference call you can’t miss? Need to return a few phone calls to family and friends? Grab your cell phone (and, ideally, a headset) and get walking. Assuming your area has reliable reception, strive to walk whenever you’re on the phone. A note of caution, though: Talking and listening will tend to distract you from the fact you’re exercising. That can be a good thing, or a dangerous thing. So always take care to remain aware of your surroundings, traffic and so on. The goal is to squeeze exercise in wherever you can — safely.

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