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Don't have time for exercise? 7 ways to incorporate exercise into your busy schedule

The demands of modern life can leave us feeling pushed to our limits. In between work, bringing up children, maintaining a home, keeping up relationships with friends and family and all of the ‘life admin’ that gets thrown our way, it’s easy to feel as though there is no time left in the day for exercise. But, for most people, ‘not having enough time’ is simply an excuse to avoid exercise in order to pursue other, more enjoyable activities. 

It’s easy to find excuses not to exercise, but anytime is a good time to make a fresh start.

According to the NHS, adults should be aiming to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every week. That’s only around 22 minutes per day, so now you just need to find a way to free up that time during the week!

How to exercise with a busy schedule 

Exercise is an invaluable part of life which will not only make you stronger and fitter, but also physically and mentally prepared to take on the other challenges life throws your way. If you’re struggling to find a way to incorporate exercise into your busy schedule, here are some tips for you!

1. Change your schedule to fit in exercise

Firstly, you need to ensure that you really are squeezing the most out of each and every day. According to the  Mental Health UK, adults u[ to the age of 65 need 7 - 9 hours of sleep per night. One question to ask yourself is, can I wake up half an hour earlier and still achieve this amount of sleep each night? If the answer is yes, then it’s time to set your alarm clock back 30 minutes to allow yourself to wake up and start the day with a healthy dose of exercise!

It may prove tricky at first, but with perserverence, you should soon fall right into the routine of it, and according to Healthline, studies have shown that exercising in the early morning can improve the quality of your sleep and burn more fat if you have an empty stomach.

2. Check your phone’s screen time

Sometimes you might feel like you don’t have time to exercise, but you are actually filling your spare time with less healthy habits. Smartphones have given us instant access to a never-ending stream of media consumption, and you might be spending more time on your phone than you realise – time that could be better spent exercising!

To find out how much time you are spending on your phone, you can check your screen time:


  • Open ‘Settings’
  • Scroll down to ‘Screen Time’
  • This will then show you how much time you spend on your phone each day

Android (Samsung, other devices may vary):

  • Open ‘Settings’
  • Scroll down to ‘Digital Wellbeing & Parental Controls’
  • This will then display how much time you spend on your phone each day

If you’re spending a couple of hours or more on your phone per day, this might present an opportunity to reduce screen time and use some of that time to exercise instead.

3. Use your commute time wisely

The commute to work is one of your greatest opportunities to add a bit of exercise into your daily routine. If you currently drive or use public transport to get to work, can you consider cycling or walking instead? If your workplace is too far away, can you park further away or get off the bus a few stops earlier? Adding a brisk 10 minute walk to your daily commute will offer many health benefits and adds towards your goal of exercising for 150 minutes each week.

Even if you don’t commute to work, you can still factor in a 10 minute walk or power through a YouTube workout before getting bogged down in your usual day to day activities.

4. Walking meetings

There’s no reason why exercise has to stop in the workplace. If you work in an office environment, you might find that you are sitting at your desk for eight hours a day. There are options such as sitting/standing desks which can help you get more movement throughout the day, but one of the best things you can do is have walking meetings with your colleagues, clients and customers.

Whether it’s a meeting over the phone or in person, structuring the meeting as a walk could add an extra hour of exercise to your day!

5. Social exercise

Keeping up with friends and family is an important part of life, but do you find yourself meeting up for food, drinks or to watch films? By opting for a more active social life, whether that be meeting for a walk, finding a gym buddy or joining a walking group or exercise class, you can maintain a healthy social life whilst increasing the amount of exercise you manage to fit into your week.

6. Strategically place exercise equipment around the home

If you’re opting to invest in fitness equipment, you should consider placing it strategically around the home so that it is easy to access and combine with other activities. If your weights are locked away in the shed, it’s unlikely you’ll choose to grab them for a quick weight training session, but if you keep them somewhere easy to access, such as under the bed or next to the TV, you will be more inclined to pick them up for an early morning / late night weight training session or to bosh out some reps while watching TV.

If you’re investing in something like a treadmill or exercise bike, placing it in front of a television or near a radio can be a great motivator to get you using your exercise equipment of choice as you will be more entertained whilst working out.

7. Try high intensity interval training apps

A trend which has swept over the nation, in no small part thanks to the world famous personal trainer Joe Wicks, is ‘high intensity interval training’ (HIIT). This is a type of exercise which allows you to exercise for a very short amount of time, but at a very high intensity. Getting your heart rate up faster and working your muscles harder will have fantastic long term benefits, and you can work up a sweat in as little as seven minutes. There are plenty of tools and apps available to help with high intensity interval training, such as Seven, which includes a free workout to get you started. If the apps aren't for you, you can also find plenty of other free HIIT workouts online, including one from the NHS which is only a ten minute workout. We also have a variety of great workout suggestions and recommendations on our blog.

Keen to discover more about how to exercise if you don’t have time?

Finding the time to workout is half the battle, so once you have found a way to build exercise into your daily / weekly routine, it’s all about consistency and remaining motivated. If you are struggling to find time for fitness and you live in Dorset, we can help you to get active. Our team of coaches and advisors can help create a personalised activity plan tailored to you and your fitness goals. Register with us today and take that first important step towards a healthier, happier life!

Read more on:
Ways to make exercise more fun
How to keep fit at home
How to make exercise a habit


"In January 2019, I was five stone heavier. Now, with the weight loss, parkrun and netball, my anxiety has improved tenfold."

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How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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