5 Tips to Add Exercise Into a Busy Schedule


It’s the most common response I hear when I ask people how things are going and it’s the most common response I give when asked that question. We live in a world that keeps us moving and, if you’re like me, you feel a little awkward when your schedule actually slows down for a few days or a week. I’ve seen so many discussions about whether or not our busy schedules are a good thing—and it’s a valid conversation to have—but busyness is a reality for so many and it doesn’t appear as though that will change anytime soon.

I eventually took the approach of trying to work with a busy schedule, instead of trying to fight it or waiting until things “slow down” when I want to make changes in my routine. One of the big changes I wanted to make was working out. I feel better, sleep better, work better… I live life better when I move my body. But if I’ve fallen out of a workout routine, it can feel overwhelming to add it back in. I don’t have time!

When overwhelm hits, these are the steps I take to work it back into my schedule.

If you'd like to workout more, but feel like you're too busy, here are 5 tips for adding workouts back into your schedule without feeling overwhelmed! // dreams-etc.com

1 // Start Small.

This is probably key. My instinct is to say, “I’m going to start working out!” and set a goal to workout for an hour a day for five days each week at least. My goal is always what I put down on paper, but really… I’m going to work out every single day right? When I add exercise into my routine, it means that I have to adjust my schedule in other places, so if I set a big goal one of two things will happen: 1) I won’t accomplish the goal and will feel discouraged, or 2) I’ll frantically adjust my schedule and routine, but I usually adjust it in one place I shouldn’t. Sleep. There are some people in my life who would tell you that I already don’t get enough sleep—and they might be right—so sleeping less, isn’t an option.

[Tweet “Do you feel overwhelmed when you start to incorporate exercise into a busy schedule? Start small!”]

When I say I start small, I mean I start small. I set a goal to workout at least one day a week for at least 20 minutes. The first time I started small, I literally worked out one day that first week. The next week I worked out two. The third week I worked out three and by the end of the month I was working four days a week for a half hour to an hour. Now, whenever I’ve fallen out of that routine (because life happens… I’m actually working on incorporating exercise back into my routine after taking a month of illness) I set my goal for that one day, but I usually get in at least two or three days that first week.

2 // Simplify the Process.

Make sure you have everything you need handy. I always make sure that I have clean workout clothes (including workout bras—I always lose them!) and that they’re easily accessible. I put out the clothes I’m wearing the next day before bed every night and if I know that the next day will a great day for a workout (I’ll be home right after work for the entire evening) I put my workout clothes out too. If I went to the gym, I’d carry my gym bag with me. Since I workout at home, I make sure that my favorite DVDs are handy and that if I need weights, a yoga mat, or other supplies they’re within reach. If I have to search for things, it doesn’t work, but I can easily make sure I’m ready to workout as I prepare everything that I need for work the next day.

[Tweet “Set out your workout clothes, put your gym bag in your car… simplify the process!”]

3 // Find Enjoyable Workouts.

Another thing I hear is that working out isn’t fun—and there have been times that I’ve agreed. Running is not my thing and, to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of going for walks either. I get bored pretty quickly. If you’ve tried different workouts that don’t excite you, keep looking! There’s some form of activity that you will enjoy, I can guarantee it. The human body wasn’t made to sit all day long; it was made to get up and move! So there’s something out there, you just need to find what those enjoyable workouts are.

For me, it’s dancing and kickboxing. I need a workout that captivates my mind and these are the two that do it. Dancing engages me as I learn the choreography and once I have it down I like to dance my heart and perform… for Little One, since she’s the only one in the room. Kickboxing allows me to kick and punch out my frustrations. Or, if I’m feeling pretty good about life in general, it gives me an opportunity to live out my childhood dreams of being Jane Blue. Either way, kickboxing is always therapeutic and a lot of fun.

[Tweet “Find workouts you enjoy so that you look forward to working out. I promise, they’re out there!”]

4 // Listen to Your Body.

There’s the practical: I don’t want to start working out and injure myself. You should listen to your body that way too. If something doesn’t feel right and causes pain, stop. See if you can modify the move or if it’s something you shouldn’t be doing. We all have different bodies with different quirks. I was born with clubfoot, and while it was corrected when I was younger, it’s had some lasting effects that makes running painful. (One of the reasons running isn’t my kinda workout.)

There’s also the motivational: when I workout I feel better. I’m more settled, I sleep better… I feel so good that I want to keep working out. That’s one huge motivator for me to get that workout… but it’s most motivating once I start working out and actually feel how good it feels to workout.

5 // Plan Ahead.

I like to start the week by taking a look at my calendar to see what’s coming up. Getting up to workout before work doesn’t work for me, so I know I need to plan on working out in the evenings. Every other Wednesday I go straight from work to a church group, so I don’t get home until nine. Sometimes I still manage to get a workout in, but I usually plan out my week so that I get my workouts in other days. I have another church group every other Thursday, so I know that if I’m going to work out I need to be sure I get home from work early enough to get it in before I go. I don’t actually put my workouts into my calendar (although it’s probably something I should do), but I definitely take a look at what my schedule looks like and plan when I want to fit them in.

I also make sure that I start getting them in right away at the start of the week, that way if something comes up at the end of the week I know I’ve gotten some workouts in.

[Tweet “Take a few minutes at the start of the week to see how you can fit workouts into your schedule.”]

The cool thing is, once I find a workout that I love and get into the routine of exercising, it becomes a habit. It becomes such a routine that I’ve even worked out on days I wasn’t planning to (so I could focus on other things) just because it’s what I do and it feels good!


[Tweet “5 ways to incorporate exercise into a busy schedule!”]

If you'd like to workout more, but feel like you're too busy, here are 5 tips for adding workouts back into your schedule without feeling overwhelmed! // dreams-etc.com

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  • Reply
    Miranda Hunt
    March 2, 2017 at 8:37 am

    I really like the simplifying the process step…if you prepare ahead of time you have no excuse not to do it! Finding a workout you enjoy is so important to. For me, I do better if I have someone to hold me accountable…so usually my boyfriend or my mom check in and encourage me throughout the week!

  • Reply
    March 2, 2017 at 10:06 am

    I love the idea of laying out workout clothes the night before and also taking a few minutes to plan your workouts and time. I used to be so good at that, but it’s crazy looking back compared to now and seeing how much I’ve fallen off the wagon. It really is so do-able when you just plan it out and make it a part of your everyday routine! Love these tips.

  • Reply
    Casey Oakley Bennevault
    March 2, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    These are all great tips and I can attest to the fact that they work!!!

  • Reply
    March 2, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    I like the tip about starting small. I find if I try to workout every day, it’s just a bit too overwhelming and doesn’t tend to happen. These days I stick to “3 days a week” minimum as a rule, and then if I manage to fit in an extra workout, I’m happy because I see that as a bonus!

  • Reply
    Jessica Bradshaw
    March 2, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    Planning and finding what you enjoy are two huge ones. I think having an accountability partner to workout with is a great way to add it in too. They will keep you from talking yourself out of going.

  • Reply
    Christine Everyday
    March 2, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    I love this! I am super guilty of using that excuse, too, so these are great tips.

  • Reply
    Krysta Lynn
    March 2, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    These are great tips! I’m trying to exercise regularly again and I really need to remember to find an exercise that I enjoy, rather than an exercise that I think I should be going. Planning ahead would probably make things a lot easier too.

  • Reply
    Chasing My Halo
    March 2, 2017 at 11:51 pm

    Starting small is key! I too, usually set unrealistic goals right off the bat and then get discouraged when I fail and give up all together. Great list!

  • Reply
    Michelle Elenee
    March 3, 2017 at 12:23 am

    Love these tips especially making the process simple and do workouts that are fun. I only workout twice or thrice a week with my fiance depending on how busy I am.

  • Reply
    Malissa @ QuotationRe:Marks
    March 3, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Listening to your body and simplifying the process are so important! I pack my gym bag the night before and make sure its in my car so that I’m ready to hit the gym after work. 🙂 These are great tips! thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Denisse Salinas
    March 3, 2017 at 11:13 am

    Great tips! I’m usually so busy that I only have time to squeeze in a quick 20 minute workout at home, so having home workout equipment is a must! Also, if it doesn’t happen in the morning I usually won’t get around to it at all.

  • Reply
    Rachel @ STCL
    March 3, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Finding enjoyable workouts is key! I’ve also found planning ahead helps. If I go to the gym right after work I’m much more likely to go!

  • Reply
    Linda Luke
    March 3, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    I appreciate these tips. While I am able to make it to the gym a couple times a week it is not enough to maintain my strength and health. So now, on some days I do the 2 short workouts thing. It just means not showering after the first one or I would have to shower twice. Evening walks are lovely when weather allows and I like your idea of reviewing my schedule at the beginning of the week to see what I can do.

  • Reply
    Betsy Glenn
    March 3, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    I”m a fan of just adding a little bit more. Don’t always reply to an email, take a walk over to someone when you can, that kind of stuff.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Enloe Malakoff
    March 3, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    I really needed this post. Trying to motivate!

  • Reply
    Joy Lynn
    March 3, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    So true how starting small can really progress like that! And enjoyable workouts are a MUST. I love what you can find on youtube these days haha!

  • Reply
    Logan Cantrell
    March 3, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    Planning ahead and getting creative with my workouts has helped me a lot. Sometimes I even turn on a Zumba YT video and have a dance party with the kids. haha

  • Reply
    Annissa Slusher
    March 3, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    These are some great tips. I think it’s important to start small to get into the routine. One can always make it more intense later, when the habit has been established.

  • Reply
    March 3, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    Love these tips! Perfect for anyone- beginner or not!

  • Reply
    Summer @ Coffee With Summer
    March 4, 2017 at 9:36 am

    These are AWESOME tips, Crystal! Simplifying your routine is a good way to be able to add it in no matter what.

  • Reply
    Patricia Conte
    March 4, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Great tips, especially having everything out and ready for when you’re ready! Nothing worse than searching for your DVD or a ponytail holder! Thanks for these suggestions! I’m so guilty of, “I’ll get moving when I have more time!”

  • Reply
    Bridget@Antics of a NuttyHiker
    March 4, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Great tips! I also suggest (if possible) having a work out buddy or accountability partner as you are less likely to cancel or find an excuse on why you can’t work out when you have someone else depending on you too =)

  • Reply
    Alix Maza
    March 4, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Listening to your body is so essential! Great tips.

    Alix | http://www.apintsizedlifeblog.com

  • Reply
    Nicole Carpenter
    March 4, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Great tips! I know I always want to start big, and then I drop the ball. Starting small is the trick for me too!

  • Reply
    Lindsay @ The Flynnigans
    March 4, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    I couldn’t agree more on every point you made. If you want it bad enough, you’ll find the time. My best piece of advice for people is to pencil it into your schedule like anything else.

    Great post love. xo

  • Reply
    March 4, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    ‘Find enjoyable workouts’, this is something I need to work on!

  • Reply
    Nicole Parise
    March 5, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    These are great tips, and I think I have made good habits by doing a lot of these thinks! Starting small is really important 🙂

    xx nicole

  • Reply
    Keating | KeatingBartlett.com
    March 7, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    So many great tips here! I make my workouts top priority most weeks to the point where the rest of my schedule revolves around when I’m going to the gym haha health is so important in my household. But like everyone, sometimes life gets hectic and it makes it that much more challenging to find the time to go. Keeping a good, consistent schedule is what helps me the most in making sure I have time for it all 🙂

  • Reply
    Hannah Stein
    March 8, 2017 at 4:46 am

    These are great tips! I’m really bad about getting exercise in and not just because of a busy schedule but just because I don’t like it. I love the point of finding a workout that you like and makes you happy. For me, that’s totally not running. However, I like zumba. So it’s definitely all about finding something that works for you.

  • Reply
    Allison Arnone
    March 8, 2017 at 10:44 am

    All good tips! I struggle with this so much because I just don’t have a ton of time between working full time and commuting, so if I don’t pre-plan it, it ain’t happening!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2017 at 9:59 am

    Thanks for the tips. I always struggle to find time, I just need to make it more of a priority.

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