How to Fit Fitness into Your Busy Schedule - The Ultimate Guide

How to Fit Fitness into Your Busy Schedule - The Ultimate Guide

Hey there, fellow busy professional human!

If you’ve ever felt like there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done, let alone squeeze in a workout, you’re not alone. I am with you!

But fear not! Just because your schedule is packed doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your health and fitness.

I’ve got your back with practical tips and strategies to help you fit fitness into even the busiest of schedules.

Let’s dive in!

Here are the top 10 ways to sneak in exercise without overhauling your life:

  • Prioritize Short, Intense Workouts: 

    Focus on HIIT or Tabata workouts that can be completed in 10-20 minutes but pack a powerful punch.
  • Incorporate Movement into Your Routine: 

    Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away, or walk during phone calls.
  • Schedule Workouts Like Meetings: 

    Block out time in your calendar for exercise and treat it like an important appointment you can’t miss.
  • Use Your Commute: 

    Walk, bike, or get off public transit a stop early to add some activity to your day.
  • Make Use of Breaks: 

    Use lunch breaks for a quick workout, stretching, or a brisk walk around the block.
  • Morning Workouts: 

    Start your day with exercise. Even a short, energizing routine can set a positive tone for the rest of the day.
  • Evening Fitness: 

    Wind down after work with an evening workout. This can be a great way to relieve stress and transition into relaxation time.
  • Family and Social Workouts: 

    Combine fitness with social time by working out with friends or involving your family in active games and activities.
  • Leverage Technology: 

    Use fitness apps, online workout videos, and wearable devices to guide your workouts and track progress.
  • Desk Exercises: 

    Incorporate simple exercises like chair squats, desk push-ups, and seated leg lifts into your workday to stay active.

    Why Fitness Matters for Busy Professionals

    First things first, let’s talk about why fitness should be a priority, even when you’re juggling a million things. I remember my old day job, walking up and down stairs was honestly my only form of fitness. It was bad. So bad, that I would even get winded climbing more than one flight. (insert wheezing sound)

    Regular exercise isn’t just about looking good; it’s about feeling good. It can boost your energy levels, improve your mood, and even make you more productive at work. Think of it as an investment in yourself. Seriously. Do this. You have insurance on your car that you pay every month just in case something might happen to it and it's technically way more hardy than you are, so why not think about a monthly installment in helping yourself be a bit more awesome. 

    I remember when I first started working at a desk job. My days were filled with meetings, deadlines, and endless emails. I thought I didn’t have time for fitness until I started noticing how sluggish I felt. At the end of the day, I seriously didn't want anything to do with fitness. It felt like a chore. 

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    I decided I would try literally any kind of workout. There was a gym at my workplace that even had a pool, so, I took swimming lessons in my 40's. Why not? There was a Crossfit down the street, so I'd go on my lunch break some days. My office sponsored yoga classes, so, I went to those, too. (Honestly, I hate yoga. I find it frustrating, but I did it). I went to Orange Theory and Basecamp Fitness. I tried everything as I was determined to make one of those fitness regimes mine and somehow include it in my life. 

    Assess Your Schedule

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    Finding Time for Fitness

    The first step is figuring out where you can carve out some time for exercise. This might seem daunting, but it’s easier than you think. Start by doing a time audit for a few days. Write down or think about everything you do and see where you might be able to fit in a workout. You’d be surprised how much time gets eaten up by things like scrolling through social media or binge-watching TV shows. Not that these things are bad, but there might be able to do both because sometimes I walk and watch Netflix at the same time. Damn my rate limits! 

    Prioritizing Your Activities

    Next, prioritize your activities. What’s really important to you? If fitness is a priority (and some form of it should be), then it deserves a spot in your schedule. This might mean waking up a little earlier, cutting back on TV time, or even combining fitness with other activities. Heck, even my Peloton has streaming services on it now. 

    Quick and Effective Workouts

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    High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

    If you’re short on time, HIIT workouts are a game-changer. These are short, intense bursts of exercise followed by brief rest periods. They’re incredibly effective and can be done in 10-20 minutes. Here’s a quick HIIT routine you can try:

    • 1 minute of jumping jacks
    • 1 minute of push-ups
    • 1 minute of squats
    • 1 minute of burpees
    • 1 minute of rest
    • Repeat 3-4 times
    • After each round, roll a D20. If you roll 8 or above, reduce time to :45 seconds. If you roll 7 or lower, add :15 seconds of work. 

    Incorporating Movement into Daily Activities

    Sometimes, you just have to get creative. Can you walk or bike to work? Take the stairs instead of the elevator? How about a walking meeting? Every little bit counts. I once started doing calf raises while waiting for my coffee to brew in the morning. It might sound silly, but those small movements add up!

    Morning Fitness Routines

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    Becoming a Morning Exerciser

    I know, I know. Getting up early is tough, especially if you’re not a morning person. Morning people are freaks, lets admit it, but there are some major benefits to working out in the morning. It kickstarts your metabolism and sets a positive tone for the rest of the day. Also, you have the ability to shame others who didn't get up and start working out and getting a bunch of stuff done like you, the real hero of this planet.

    Here’s how you can ease into it:

    • Prepare your workout clothes the night before. Set out your shoes, shorts, shirts and other sh*t. 
    • Set a realistic wake-up time (you don’t have to be up at 5 AM!).
    • Start with short workouts and gradually increase the duration. I start with 10 minute workouts because my brain can understand that amount of time that early.

    Sample Morning Workout Routine

    • 5 minutes of stretching
    • 10 minutes of bodyweight exercises (e.g., push-ups, squats, lunges)
    • 5 minutes of yoga or meditation

    See, it doesn't have to be intense. Just literally stretching in the morning does wonders for your mood. 

    Lunchtime Fitness Strategies

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    Utilizing Your Lunch Break

    Lunchtime can be a perfect opportunity to get some exercise. It breaks up the day and can re-energize you for the afternoon.

    Here are a few ideas:

    • Go for a brisk walk. I used to walk around the block just to get away from people. My social battery was full, so walking reset me. 
    • Do a quick bodyweight circuit in your office or a nearby park.
    • Try desk exercises if you’re short on space. But people will look at you weirdly, so if you can endure that, go for it!

    Office-Friendly Workouts

    If you’re worried about getting sweaty at work, stick to low-impact exercises. Here’s a quick, office-friendly routine:

    • 10 chair squats
    • 10 desk push-ups
    • 10 chair tricep dips
    • 20 seated leg raises
    • Repeat 2-3 times

    Evening Fitness Solutions

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    Benefits of Evening Workouts

    Evening workouts can help you unwind after a long day. Reset your brain. Release all of that stress. Plus, it’s often easier to find longer chunks of time in the evening compared to the morning. If you prefer to work out after work, make sure to have a plan in place so you don’t get derailed by last-minute plans or fatigue. Leave work with a purpose. Also, a group fitness class is a great post-work workout because these people aren't people you work with and those people are the worst.

    Combining Fitness with Family Time

    If you have a family, why not get them involved? Go for a family walk or bike ride, play a sport together, or even have a dance party in the living room. It’s a great way to spend quality time together while staying active. My wife and I try to walk the dog after she completes her nightly workout. It's a good time for use to communicate, talk about us and bitch about stupid people in our lives who are doing stupid things that annoy us. You know, couple stuff.

    Incorporating Fitness into Your Commute

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    Active Commuting

    If you live close enough to work, consider walking or biking instead of driving. It’s an easy way to get your exercise in without taking extra time out of your day. If that’s not an option, try getting off the bus or train a stop early and walking the rest of the way. Plus, walking to work allows you to hate your job with every step you take, increasing blood flow, heart rate and brain activity as you think of ways to quit gracefully in this capitalistic hell hole called America.

    Making the Most of Public Transportation

    Even if you take public transportation, you can still sneak in some exercise. Stand instead of sitting, do calf raises while waiting, or even some discreet stretching. Every little bit helps!

    Leveraging Technology for Fitness

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    Best Fitness Apps for Busy Schedules

    AI is not your friend. It wants to kill you, at least, that's what movies tell me. But, there are tons of apps out there designed to help you stay fit, no matter how busy you are. Plus, my iWatch is listening to everything I do or say which is probably good for someone somewhere. 

    Some of my favorites include:

    • 7 Minute Workout: Quick and effective workouts you can do anywhere.
    • MyFitnessPal: Great for tracking your nutrition and exercise.
    • Nike Training Club: Offers a variety of workouts for all fitness levels.
    • Peloton: You can not only track their workouts, but your own.

    Online Workout Programs

    If you prefer working out at home, there are plenty of online programs and virtual trainers available. Sites like Nerdstrong's  FREE WORKOUTS (shameless plug!), Beachbody On Demand, and YouTube have countless free workouts you can follow along with.

    Time Management Tips for Consistency

    Setting Realistic Goals

    One of the keys to staying consistent is setting realistic, achievable goals. Now, this is a science unto itself. Don’t aim for perfection; aim for progress. Start small and gradually increase your workout duration and intensity.

    Scheduling Your Workouts

    Treat your workouts like any other important appointment. Put them in your calendar and stick to them. Having a set time each day can make it easier to form a habit. BUT! Do not kick yourself for missing a workout. It's ok. There are always more workouts. 

    Accountability Partners and Fitness Groups

    Having someone to hold you accountable can make a huge difference. Find a workout buddy, join a fitness group, or participate in online challenges. When you know someone else is counting on you, it’s harder to skip your workout.

    Join the Nerdstrong Discord! and check the #accountabilitybuddy thread. 

    Overcoming Common Obstacles

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    Dealing with Fatigue and Lack of Motivation

    We all have days when we just don’t feel like working out. On those days, remind yourself why you started. Sometimes, just getting started is the hardest part. Once you’re moving, you’ll often find the motivation to keep going. Seriously, after the first couple minutes, you might forget why you didn't want to in the first place, plus, you'll always feel better afterwards, I promise. 

    Handling Unpredictable Work Hours

    If your job has unpredictable hours, be flexible with your workout schedule. Have a few different workout plans ready so you can adjust based on the time you have. Even a 10-minute workout is better than nothing.

    Staying Active While Traveling

    Traveling for work doesn’t mean you have to skip your workouts. Pack some portable equipment like resistance bands or a jump rope, and do bodyweight exercises in your hotel room. Many hotels also have fitness centers you can use. There are a ton of Youtube workouts available that are mostly doable with no equipment or just a pair of weights. Plus, getting back to your routine at home won't feel so daunting. 


    Fitting fitness into your busy schedule is all about making small, sustainable changes and prioritizing your health. With the right mindset and a few strategic adjustments, you can stay active and healthy no matter how packed your calendar is. Remember, it's not about finding time; it's about making time. Your future self will thank you!

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