Fitness on a Busy Schedule: It can happen!

You can enjoy family time, your favorite TV show, good meals, friends, and a productive work schedule while still getting your daily dose of exercise.  Thoughtful scheduling is especially important and will make or break your exercise routine.

Plan a week, or better yet, a month ahead and look for possible sticky situations. Then make arrangements to work everything into a synergistic schedule.  You want your training to motivate, energize and give you confidence in your physical well being.  When this is the case, training will fit into your schedule, encouraging higher productivity at work and allowing you to be more relaxed at home.

For instance, Mondays are busy for me; I am usually working on the computer from when I wake up straight through to around 5 p.m.  Of course, I take frequent stretch breaks, but when 5 p.m. rolls around, I stop my work, head out of the office and bike 30 minutes to the trail head to lead a beginner mountain bike ride for BMA.  By the time I get back from sharing a fitness experience with some eager riders I forget that I worked most of the day, and I can enjoy a meal and time with my family.  In a way, I look forward to the dynamics of my busy Mondays.

  Tips for fitting your exercise into a busy schedule:

  • Get up and get moving the first thing in the morning.  If your kids are still asleep, you will find this time much more relaxing than awaking to their needs from the get go.  Working out before you eat breakfast is also a great way to control weight—it encourages your body to conserve carbs and burn fat because you are in a semi-fasting state from the night before.
  • Involve your family. Often I will push our littlest one in the baby jogger, and our 4-year-old bikes while Sara and our oldest son also run. Strength training works great with your family.  The little ones can act as heavy medicine balls, giving you more resistance for many exercises; plus they get a huge kick out of being bounced up and down and the exercises get progressively harder as they grow.  Hikes also work well with the family; especially when one or both have to carry a little pack on one their backs (start with short hikes to get your shoulders and back conditioned).
  • Play ground strength training!  While your kids are playing at the park you can do loads of exercises like  bench step-ups, pull-ups, dips, lunges, calve raises, abs and just plain chase your kids!
  • You can get more out of 20 minutes than you think.  A quick 20-minute brisk walk, strength session, run or bike will do a lot to raise your metabolism and give you cardiovascular benefits.  Your exercise can be as easy as doing a bunch of sit-ups and a dynamic stretch while watching the evening news.
  • Stretch and strengthen at work.  There are tons of stretches and exercises you can do in your office or wherever you work without even leaving your job.  For instance, try seeing how long you can sit while reaching your spine as tall as possible and holding your stomach in.  I am doing it right now and it is amazing how quickly I noticed weaknesses in my posture.
  • Workout at night after you have eaten, watched the news, or played with the kids.  Whether on your own or with a significant other, you will be pleasantly surprised how much more invigorating a little exercise can be over watching TV.  Working out after you finish your last meal will boost metabolism all night long and can really encourage weight loss or body composition control.
  • Bike to work.  If your drive takes 15 minutes and your bike takes 40 minutes you only lost 25 minutes plus you gain time later because you don’t have to try to fit a ride in.  Dr. Sara often puts in 100 miles a week this way.
  • Bike or run to your health club, get your swim or strength session in and then bike or run back.  This is a great way to get some big volume training in while saving time on driving, parking, and dressing at the club.  All you need is a small back-pack; the extra weight is great for strength training.
  • Mix a run or bike into a strength routine.  This could entail multiple repetitions of doing a variety of strength exercise after 5 minutes of riding or running.  Not only does this really help your body develop sport specific strength, you get both a cardio and strength workout at the same time.  I think a strength workout mixed into a 60 minute run counts for every bit as much training as a 40 minute strength session plus 60 minutes of running (or bike).
  Often schedules change unexpectedly or things pile up and before you know it, you are way off your exercise routine.  When this happens it may be a good time to start with small little 5 to 10 minute bits of exercise or consult with an exercise specialist to determine the best approach to getting back on track.   Stay active,   Coach Jared

Written by

Head Coach of TriEndurance. CSCS Strength and Conditioning Coach, Former Pro-Triathlete and current Endurance Enthusiast competing in short and long distance (on or off-road) cycling events.