So, you’re thinking about starting to exercise regularly, in order to tone up, get in shape, and feel great. Wonderful!
But now you have to deal with the age-old questions of busy women everywhere – What should I do? And how can I make time for it?
I’ve asked myself those questions a hundred times, and you probably have too. And women ask me variations of those questions regularly, things like “How can I possibly find time to exercise?”
Or “I know what I should be doing. But how can I get myself to do it?”
Or “I don’t like to exercise. What can I do?”
Fortunately, we can answer those questions in a way that will help you get moving and start making space for exercise in your busy life.
So let’s take them one at a time and tackle them with 7 practical exercise tips for busy women, plus tricks and routines to help you get started and keep going. (Includes affiliate links.)
Exercise Tips for Busy Women – What to Do
What should I do? Get up and move!
• Move your body for at least 30 minutes on 5 or more days of each week.* Do something that increases your heart rate moderately and works up a bit of a sweat. And do something you enjoy – walk, bike, play outside with the kids, do Zumba, take an exercise class, exercise with a video – whatever works for you. You don’t have to go to a gym or an exercise class! You can get up and move at home, at work, or just about anywhere.
• Spend less time sitting. Move as much as possible throughout the day. If you have a sedentary job (like I do) get up and move often. I try to get up and walk around my office building twice a day, as well as walk for 20 minutes at lunch. When you’re at home, do as many tasks as possible while standing or walking. Plan your daily activities in ways that make you walk more, not less. And limit the time you spend watching TV and other sedentary activities.
• Strengthen your muscles. Two or three days per week, do exercises that build muscle strength. This is my least favorite kind of exercise, so I struggle to do it consistently. This year I’m forcing myself to do it 3 days a week, right after I get home from work. You can do it at a gym, or as part of a fitness class or workout, or at home with little or no equipment. I use just a few inexpensive hand weights, plus bodyweight activities like push-ups and squats. If you don’t know how to get started, find an exercise routine or program from a reputable source, like Prevention or Women’s Health.
• Stretch your body several days per week. The expert advice on stretching is somewhat mixed; some people advise stretching as a way to warm up before aerobic exercise, while others recommend stretching after exercise, when your muscles are warmed up. Do a bit of research to find stretching exercises that work for you. Or start with this Stretching 101 Guide from Prevention.
How Can I Make Time for It? Make yourself a priority.
• Schedule it. Look at your calendar at the beginning of every week and schedule time for exercise on at least 5 days. Consider this time to be a set appointment, just like the other appointments you make and things you commit to do every week. If you don’t schedule it, it probably won’t happen.
• Break it up. If you can’t exercise for 30 minutes at a time, break it into 2 15-minute or 3 10-minute segments.
• Fit it into your daily activities. Of all the exercise tips for busy women, this is my favorite. Find ways to work exercise into your day. This is the key for moms and other busy women! If you’re sitting, get in the habit of thinking, “Could I be moving instead?” Walk while your children are at sports practices or lessons. Walk during your lunch hour. Do strength training or flexibility exercises while watching television. When shopping, park in a central location and walk to several stores.
Wear a fitness tracker or pedometer and accumulate steps throughout the day. I’ve used a Fitbit Alta HR for years to track my steps and make sure I get 10,000 steps a day, most days of the week. It keeps me motivated and gets me up and moving when I see that my step count is low. You can also use an inexpensive simple step counter.
• Do it together. Walk with your spouse after dinner. Ride bikes or play outside with your children. Enlist co-workers to walk or work out with you before, during or after work. If you’re at home with young children, find other moms and walk or workout together.
• Find creative ways to be active. Figure out practical ways to fit exercise into your busy schedule, such as 25 Easy Ways to Fit in 10 Minutes of Exercise or The 25-Minute Office Workout. Develop some active interests with your spouse or family, activities that keep you moving while you’re having fun together.
In order to live the fit and healthy life you want and deserve, you need to get up and move every day. So take some time this week to work through these two questions, find the answers that work best for you, start moving today, and keep it going throughout the year! And if you run into roadblocks, that’s okay. Regroup, find new ways to make it work, and start again.
I know that fitting exercise into your life is challenging. If you need more help and encouragement, check out our Healthy Life Toollbox, with tools you can use to figure out ways to change your mindset and your habits to create a healthy, happy life.
Please Note – If you have any health problems or concerns, talk with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, most adults can participate in moderate physical activity, but if you have any questions or experience any problems, talk with your doctor before beginning or continuing.
*More detailed physical activity recommendations are available from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
And if you’re looking for a guide that will help you set up an exercise program that fits your life and schedule, get a copy of Fit. Strong. Healthy. The Busy Woman’s 30-Minute Guide to Making Time for Exercise. It’s designed specifically to help moms and other busy women find practical ways to fit regular exercise into their busy lives.