Everyone knows that making time for exercise is important, but it can be hard to get going when life doesn’t stand still. How can we stay fit when we’re working long hours or looking after young children? How can you prep for the next big race when you’re struggling to fit in a few hours of training each week?
Not to worry – there’s plenty of research to show that even shorter workouts can have lasting health benefits. Read our guide below to find some easy ways to squeeze more exercise into your routine.
First, know that you don’t have to spend every weekend doing a 10k, or spend hours at the gym every week. A recent study found that exercising at a moderate to high intensity for just 10 minutes can actually have similar health benefits to longer rounds of exercise. Investing in some basic weights or equipment will mean that you can fit small workouts in at home, and you can even try short HIIT routines or yoga, requiring nothing but a little space and a few spare minutes of time. Use smaller workouts like this between larger ones to keep you motivated and work different muscle sets.
Master the morning
Many people find that they’re too tired to exercise by the time they get home from work, or find that it gets pushed aside by evening commitments. Building fitness into your morning routine can be a solution. Try getting up 30 minutes earlier and using this time to do some light exercise. Beyond just getting some early calorie-burning in, research also shows that exercising at this time can help to control appetite, reduce blood pressure, and improve sleep.
Exercising with kids
Kids at any age can be exhausting! But they will also do a lot to keep you on your feet. Think about active things you can do together. There are even family-friendly events you can sign up to, with many even having special courses or reduced distances for children.
If you have children who are very young, your focus might need to be on just staying active and moving around, rather than trying to a make a gym class – think about how you can walk more during everyday activities, or quick workouts you can do at home when you catch a spare moment, as all these little things add up.
Optimise your journey to work by exercising as part of it. Find out if your workplace has showers and try cycling or running in. You could also get off a stop or two earlier to get some walking in. Try using a fitbit or similar device to increase the amount you move in the day. And if you normally eat at your desk – stop! A short walk to a different setting will get the blood pumping and some air in your lungs.
You can also optimise your lunch break by booking classes nearby. For worktime workouts, preparation is key: pack your kit and prep your lunch the night before to make sure you follow-through on your commitments.
High intensity interval training or HIIT, which involves short explosive bursts of heavy exercise followed by rest periods, is a great way to get maximum results in minimal time, with a typical 10-30 minute class providing around double the benefits of moderate exercise. You can choose to attend a class, or perform a short routine at home.
If the thought of 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise sounds too terrifying, you could also try VIIT (Variable Intensity Interval Training), which mixes up high and low intensity exercises for a complete body workout.
Have a goal
When you’re juggling activities, it’s easy for exercise to get bumped down the list. Signing up to a race event can help you to prioritise exercise and keep your motivation high – especially for larger distances that require regular training as preparation, such as half-marathons, or marathons. Signing up with a friend or partner can also help to keep you motivated to keep training – so find someone with similar goals.