Get to work, go to meetings, do the shopping, pick up the kids and make dinner — your schedule is packed. You’re supposed to add exercise in their somewhere, as it’s a crucial part of self-care, but it just doesn’t always seem possible. That’s not the case if you know how to integrate workouts into your busy lifestyle. Here are some tips to do precisely that.
Keep it Short
You don’t have time to run around the park for an hour? Then don’t. According to Verywell Fit, a fitness site staffed by physicians and trainers, even a five-minute walk outside boosts your mood, lowers your blood pressure and raises your heart rate. You don’t necessarily have to increase the time of your workouts, either. Focus on the intensity.
In fact, one-hour runs may not be the best way to burn fat or get in shape anyway. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, kills calories in just 20 minutes or less through a succession of exercises such as burpees, lunges, and toe-taps done in bursts with short rests in between. These workouts involve strength-training so you’ll build muscle while trimming down.
Another way to shorten the time it takes to work out is to save on time driving or walking to the gym. Setting up a home gym can be the perfect alternative. Consider using an extra bedroom, garage, or basement for this space.
Exercise doesn’t have to cut into your entertainment, either. You should pick exercises you enjoy. Do you like to dance? Signing up for lessons is like joining the gym. Other workouts that double as fun include rollerblading, ultimate Frisbee, Ping-Pong, swimming, Wii Sports, paddle-boarding … you get the idea. There are literally dozens of activities that will burn calories while brightening your day, and they’re even better if you bring some friends along to share in the good time. It’s not hard to stay motivated when you’re having fun.
So the workout’s done. Now … ready, set, sleep! That doesn’t work, does it? You’re going to have to give your body time to cool down before hitting the sack or just chilling with the family. That’s where yoga, Pilates and tai chi come in. They’ll help you relax and provide some other surprising health benefits as well.
Yoga, for example, increases strength and flexibility while reducing stress and taking your mind off of your worries. Tai chi and Pilates achieve much of the same through a series of slow coordinated movements and mindful breathing. Best of all, you can do all of them at home. All you need is some quiet space where you won’t be distracted.
Hit the Kitchen
A healthy diet is another important element of self-care that doesn’t have to take up your whole evening. In fact, Greatist has compiled a list of 52 meals that can be made in 12 minutes or less that incorporate a healthy variety of veggies, dairy, meat, and nuts.
Getting all those ingredients is another timesuck involving lengthy trips to the grocery store and market, but there’s a fix for that, too. Fit it into your fitness routine by riding a bike. That’ll burn between 90 and 300 calories over the course of 20 minutes, depending on your weight and intensity, while toning up your glutes, hammies, and calves.
Max Your Weekend
Fitness doesn’t stop during the weekend. In fact, this is the best time to get in shape as you’ve finally got some time to get out in the sun. Plan a short getaway to the woods or mountains for a hike, which burns calories while hitting your core and relieving stress from the long week of work. You could also opt for a day at the beach and a swim in the sea.
Remember not to push yourself too hard. Real gains come from consistency, so come up with a routine that you can stick to, and don’t be afraid to add something crazy. Salsa lessons anyone?
Article contributed by Sheila Olson www.fitsheila.com