Everyone knows that exercise is good for them. But most people feel that they don’t have the time or energy after a busy day to fit in exercise.
As a busy mom, exercise was often one of the first things that I pushed off my list (there’s always tomorrow, right?!?). But ten pounds later, I quickly realized that tomorrow (and my sweet tooth) wasn’t doing me any favors.
If you’re trying to add exercise to your life but don’t know where to start (or where to find the time), don’t get overwhelmed! You don’t have to do everything, but try several different techniques to add exercise to your day (try them one at a time). Let me know how it works for you!
How to Easily Add Exercise to Your Day
1. Set multiple goals
If exercise is something that you want to add to your day, do it! Start out by setting several goals.
First, set a lofty goal for the amount of exercise you want to achieve and gradually work up to your goal. You’ll then break that goal down into smaller, manageable goals.
Once you reach each goal (and even once you reach your big goal), continue to challenge yourself by setting a more difficult goal.
You can also challenge yourself by setting a more specific goal (like the type of exercise you’ll do each day, the amount of time, etc.).
I originally set a goal to be active three days a week (I defined active as 30 minutes of activity). Once I achieved that on a regular basis, I set a more specific goal of going to two classes at the Y and exercising at home three days a week.
2. Plan how you’ll achieve your exercise goals
In addition to setting exercise goals, plan how you’ll make time for each goal. Add it to your calendar, make a date with a friend (take the kids for a walk or plan a trip to the zoo), or find an accountability partner.
Speaking of accountability, make sure that you talk about your goals. It’s easy to keep your goal to yourself out of fear – fear that you won’t achieve it or even fear that people will judge you. Your fear isn’t doing you any favors, though. As part of your plan, tell a friend. You may be surprised by their support. Maybe you’ll even get an exercise partner out of the conversation.
3. Track your exercise
One of the simplest ways to add exercise to your day is to track your activity throughout the day. You may be surprised by your activity (or lack thereof)!
On rainy days, I’m lucky to get 4,000 steps a day, but on the days that I play outside with the kids, I get closer to 8,000. To reach my goal of 10,000 steps a day, I usually need to do a Zumba class, go to the zoo, or chase my son up and down the driveway as he rides his bike.
To get an accurate idea of my steps, I bought a FitBit a couple years ago and loved it. The FitBit tracks your steps, active periods, and sleep, and it also has a great dashboard where you can add your goals and track your water, calories, and weight loss.
I started out with the FitBit Flex, which was perfect to try it out. However, the Flex doesn’t track stairs climbed, and I wanted to know how many times I was running up and down the stairs in my two-story house. I recently bought the FitBit Blaze, which I’m loving. The Blaze shows you an overview of your activity and lets you log exercise and even answer your phone from your wrist. Unfortunately, you still have to log into the FitBit dashboard to see your sleep, water intake, add your calories, etc.
If a FitBit isn’t in your budget, you could also try a pedometer. They aren’t as user-friendly (mine kept falling off my clothes, especially when I wore skirts to work or yoga pants around the house). The pedometers I’ve tried weren’t as accurate as the FitBit (one even counted steps when I laughed). On a positive note, pedometers are relatively cheap. Your insurance company may even send you one for free, which is how I got mine.
4. Squeeze in activity wherever you can
Taking the kids outside? Play tag. Going grocery shopping? Park as far away from the entrance as you can. Do squats while you’re rinsing your hair in the shower or brushing your teeth.
Make a game of finding ways to exercise. Challenge yourself to be a little more active today than you were yesterday.
5. Break up or shorten your activities
The CDC claims that you only need 30 minutes of daily activity or 150 minutes a week. To make things even simpler, you get the same benefits if you exercise for three 10 minute bursts as you do if you exercise for 30 minutes straight.
If going to the gym for an hour a day seems crazy to you, try to find ways to exercise for shorter periods of time. Go for a ten-minute walk at lunchtime or do a 20 or 30-minute exercise video first thing in the morning.
I love going to the YMCA for classes, but most classes are an hour long. Some days I just don’t have an extra hour, plus drive time. On the days that I stay home, I’ve been doing Beachbody videos. My favorites are the 21 Day Fix (every video is 30 minutes long), CIZE (many videos are 30 minutes), and PiYo. I’m still getting a great workout in a short amount of time.
Note: For a limited time, Beachbody is offering my readers free access to the Beachbody On Demand program for 30 days! You’ll be able to try out many of your favorite (or soon-to-be favorite) workouts at no cost.
These five tips (setting goals, planning to achieve them, tracking them, squeezing in activity, and shortening your activity) will help you reach your fitness goals sooner than you ever thought! Don’t make exercising more complicated than it needs to be.
How do you simplify your exercise routine?