4 ways to fit exercise into your busy schedule

With a schedule filled with work and family activities, it can be difficult to fit physical activity into your day. But your health — and your sanity — reap significant benefits when you do.

Regular exercise has been shown to:

• Help with weight management
• Reduce the risk of developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and some types of cancer
• Strengthen muscles and bones
• Improve mental health and mood
• Add years to your life

So, at this point, you’re saying, “OK, I get it: Exercise is good for me. But how can I fit it into my schedule?” Check out these tips for staying active when you’re busy — even during the holiday season!

1. Don’t consider exercise a 30-minute time commitment. While you want to aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week, those minutes don’t have to come all at one time!

Instead, fit in bits of physical activity when you can during your day. Start off your day with five or 10 minutes of yoga poses. Take a 10- or 15-minute walk during your lunchbreak. Knock out some basic callisthenic movements during your evening TV time. All that activity adds up.

In fact, exercise isn’t your only route to living an active life. Non-exercise physical activity, also called NEPA, helps keep your body active even when you’re not working out. NEPA can include regular daily activities like cleaning or grocery shopping.

2. Make physical activity a family activity. Time spent with your loved ones is vitally important. Why not build those relationships while staying active?

If the weather outside is moderate, there are tons of ways to be active as a family. Head outside for a hike or a bike ride, or play a game of touch football or soccer in the yard. Even a game of tag will get your heart rate up!

On colder days, turn on music in the house and have a dance party in the living room. Or find a family-friendly workout video or Wii fitness game.

3. Schedule an appointment with yourself. Just like you would for any other obligation, schedule in times to exercise during the week. And don’t skip your appointment.

You may be tempted to cancel your workout time when your schedule gets busier. But don’t. Even if you’re tired after a long day, you’ll feel better once you’ve exercised. Your stress will feel more manageable, and you’ll be in better form for all the rest of the tasks on your to-do list.

4. Rethink your workout schedule. Already working out regularly but finding it difficult to stick with during the holidays? Revisit your schedule.

During the winter months when the sun sets earlier, you may feel fatigued when your workday ends. If you usually exercise after work, you may want to change up your schedule for a few months and exercise before work or at lunch instead.

Likewise, if you’re usually a morning exerciser but find your to-do list getting lengthy, you may want to work out in the evenings for a while. That way, you can knock out your to-dos and then exercise.

Regular exercise is one part of a healthy lifestyle. Regular wellness checkups are another part. Need to find a doctor for an annual physical? Find one here.