Fitting in fitness: Finding time for physical activity

Finding time for fitness can be tough. The key is making it convenient. Consider these practical suggestions.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You know fitness is important for your health and well-being. But, your days are a blur of work, household chores, errands, and time with family and friends. Setting aside enough time to sleep — let alone exercise — can be tough.

But, first things first. Just how much exercise do you really need?

For adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends a minimum amount of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity along with two strength-training sessions weekly. That may sound like a lot, but if you work out at a moderate pace, it's about 30 minutes, five times a week. Walking briskly is considered a moderately paced activity.

You can also do 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity to meet your weekly aerobic exercise goal. Jogging, running and racewalking are examples of vigorous activities.

So how can you find time for fitness? The key is to be flexible and make fitness a way of life. And remember all physical activity — not just formal exercise programs — adds up to a healthier you.

Make a commitment

It's important to plan ahead so other "to-do" items don't push fitness off your radar. To keep exercise a priority:

  • Put it on the calendar. Schedule physical activity as you would any other appointment during the day. Don't change your exercise plans for every interruption that comes along.
  • Become part of a team. Sign up for a softball, soccer or volleyball team through your local parks and recreation department. Making a commitment to a team is a great motivator.
  • Join a fitness club. Sign up for a group exercise class at a nearby fitness club. The cost may be an added incentive to stick with it.
  • Wear a fitness tracker or pedometer. Seeing how far you've come may motivate you to do even more.

Enlist family, friends, co-workers and even the family pet

Activity can be more fun when you have company:

  • Involve the whole family. Take group walks before or after dinner. Play catch. Ride your bikes.
  • Start a lunchtime walking group. The regular routine and the support of your co-workers may help you stick with the program.
  • Get your dog into the act. Take daily walks with Fido or Fluffy. If you don't have a dog, borrow one. An enthusiastic dog may give you the motivation you need to lace up your walking shoes.
  • Recruit a walking buddy. That way, even on days when you're a bit lacking in motivation, knowing that your friend will soon be at your doorstep ready for a walk can help keep you moving.
  • Plan active outings. Make a date with a friend to hike in a local park, or take a family trip to the zoo. Go dancing with friends.
  • Get social. Try a dance club, hiking group or golf league. Encouragement from others can help you stay with a new activity.
Aug. 06, 2016 See more In-depth