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4 Steps To Find Time To Exercise In A Busy Life

Written by: Stephanie C. Hodges, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Stephanie C. Hodges

My health and wellness coaching clients' biggest question about their workout programs isn’t what to do; it’s how to find time to exercise. After all, everyone is busy!

Woman in white shirt holding dumbbell

Morning workouts may sound practical, but can you get out of bed earlier? Evening exercise is excellent in theory, but are you too drained at the end of the day?


Walking through the four steps in this post will help you seamlessly integrate exercise into your routine, making it as habitual as your morning coffee. Read on to create a workout schedule you can stick with.


Why does exercise matter?

We've all heard that "exercise is good for you," but it’s confirmed. Beyond the physical health benefits, such as weight management and improved cardiovascular health, exercise is a powerhouse for mental well-being. It's a natural stress reliever, mood booster, and sleep enhancer. Here are some reasons to get you fired up and make more time for exercise.


Improve sleep quality

 Engaging in regular exercise can significantly improve the quality of your sleep. It helps to regulate your circadian rhythm, promoting a healthier sleep-wake cycle.


Physical activity increases the time spent in deep sleep, the most restorative phase. This deep sleep phase helps to bolster immune function, support cardiac health, and control stress and anxiety.


Lose weight

Exercise is a crucial component in any weight loss journey, not just for the calories it burns but also for the metabolic processes it influences. Building muscle tissue boosts your metabolism, allowing your body to burn calories more efficiently, even at rest.


Combining aerobic exercises with strength training can optimize fat loss while preserving lean muscle mass. This balanced approach ensures that you're not just losing weight but improving your body's composition, leading to a healthier, more toned physique.


Improve metabolic health

Beyond weight loss, exercise plays a pivotal role in improving metabolic health. Regular activity can help lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. It also plays a significant role in managing and preventing metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.


Get stronger

Strength isn't just about lifting heavy weights; it's about empowering your body to handle daily tasks efficiently and confidently. Resistance training strengthens muscles, bones, and joints, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and injury.


Muscle function and muscle strength also improve balance and coordination, which are crucial for preventing falls, especially as you age. Furthermore, exercises that enhance core strength improve posture and relieve back pain.


4 steps to find time for exercise

But how to find time to exercise... when you don't have extra time? These four steps will help you organize your schedule, allocate your priorities, and uncover the best time to exercise—creating a personalized plan you can live with. You must study yourself, redefine opportunities, say no (to time wasters), say yes (to your health priorities), and build support.


1. Study yourself

Finding the best time to exercise begins with a deep dive into understanding your rhythms, habits, and preferences. This reflective step is vital, it involves discovering when you're most likely to commit to and enjoy physical activity based on your unique lifestyle and daily energy fluctuations. Here are some considerations.


Identify your peak energy times

 Everyone has times when they feel more energized and alert. Some larks are ready to go at sunrise and start their day with morning exercise. Night owls come alive as the day progresses and may do better with afternoon exercise or early evening.


Pay close attention to your daily energy peaks over a week. Are you able to get moving in the early morning? Are evening workouts feasible, or are you too drained at the end of the day? Pinpointing these times helps you align your exercise schedule with when you're naturally most capable and enthusiastic, making it easier to stick to your routine.


Consider your daily responsibilities

Mapping out your typical day, from work hours to family commitments, allows you to identify potential exercise slots. Look for patterns or gaps in your schedule that could accommodate a workout session.


Early morning, lunch break, or after work are common windows. Remember, exercise doesn't always have to be a long session; even short, consistent bouts of activity can be highly beneficial.


Reflect on your exercise preferences

 Equally important is understanding what types of physical activities you enjoy. Are you drawn to the solitude and challenge of running, or do group classes like spinning or Zumba excite you? Committing to a class might dictate the time of your exercise session.


Perhaps you prefer the structured environment of a gym or the peace of practicing yoga at home. Knowing what you love and what you loathe can help you choose the right type of workout and the best time to exercise.


2. Finding fitness in everyday activities

 Does exercise require running on the treadmill or lifting weights in the gym? Not at all! Maybe it’s time to redefine physical activity opportunities.


Shift your perspective from exercise as a standalone, time-consuming task to recognize the countless opportunities for movement throughout your day. Here are some examples:


Embrace everyday movement

Incidental exercise refers to movement as part of daily life, not a dedicated workout session. It includes walking to the office, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or even gardening and household chores. These activities might seem negligible, but collectively, they contribute significantly to your overall physical activity level.


You can turn mundane tasks into fitness wins by identifying and increasing these opportunities. To learn more, take a look at this Physical Activity Pyramid.


Transform commutes into workouts

Commuting might be a significant part of your day. Can this be an opportunity for exercise? If possible, consider walking, cycling, or even part-way commuting, where you park further away or get off public transport a few stops earlier. Not only does this increase physical activity, but it also helps reduce stress levels compared to passive commuting.


Utilize work breaks

Short breaks during the workday are perfect opportunities to incorporate some movement. Instead of browsing the internet or staying seated, use this time for a quick walk, stretching exercises, or even a brief bodyweight workout. These active breaks boost circulation, improve focus, and contribute to your daily exercise quota.


Active family time

Redefining opportunities for exercise also means looking at leisure time with family or friends as an opportunity to be physically active. Consider activities that get everyone moving. Not only do you get to exercise, but these activities also strengthen bonds and create lasting memories.


3. Prioritize exercise by setting boundaries

 Learning to say “no” is a decisive step towards making time for your well-being and self-care. It sets boundaries around your time and commitments, ensuring that your health and well-being aren't pushed to the back burner. Here’s how to clear up your schedule and pave the way for more consistent exercise.


Audit your time

Take a close look at your daily and weekly schedules. Identify activities or commitments that are less important or unproductive—perhaps scrolling through social media, attending non-essential meetings, or commitments that don’t align with your top priorities.


Do you stay up late watching TV or playing games on your phone? If you fall asleep earlier, you’ll get better quality sleep and make morning workouts more feasible. This step is essential; you may have to say "no" to things you enjoy (at least for a season) because they don't serve your higher priorities.


Prune your schedule

Before saying yes to anything else that might consume your time, consider its impact on your exercise and health habits. Weigh the benefits and priority of your commitment against the value of your health and fitness goals.


If you have too much on your schedule, you may need to take the following steps to prune your calendar:

  • Say no: Eliminate unnecessary items

  • Say no for me: Delegate or outsource items that don't have to be done by you personally

  • Say no for now: Use positive procrastination and delay items that aren't urgent


Communicate clearly

Clear communication is key when setting boundaries. Let colleagues, friends, and family know about your commitment to optimal health. Most will understand and respect your dedication, especially if they see the positive effects on your health and mood.


Embrace efficiency

In many cases, saying no might mean finding more efficient ways to complete necessary tasks to free up time for exercise.

For example, you can gain efficiencies by:

  • Batch-cooking meals

  • Consolidating errands to specific days and times

  • Automating processes like bill pay or having groceries delivered


4. Create a motivating environment

When you bring others into the picture, your fitness journey will be more rewarding and sustainable. Building a support system fosters motivation and creates a sense of accountability and belonging. Here's how you can develop and leverage support in your quest for fitness:


Connect with like-minded individuals

Seek out communities, both online and in-person, that share your interest in fitness and health. Joining a running club, a cycling group, or an online fitness forum can provide you with knowledge, inspiration, and encouragement.


You might also find an in-person workout buddy. You're more likely to show up for morning workouts or a mid-day walk break when someone else is counting on you, and having company makes the time more enjoyable. Choose a reliable workout partner and set regular dates to exercise together.


Book it on your calendar

 Speaking of dates, make sure you book your morning exercise or afternoon walks on your calendar. You have a serious commitment and can't let other obligations take over the time you've set aside.


Involve your family

Incorporating family members into your fitness routine can turn exercise into a bonding activity. Whether it's family bike rides, hikes, or backyard volleyball, shared activities help you stay active and promote a healthy lifestyle among loved ones.


Seek professional guidance

Consider hiring a wellness coach or personal trainer for personalized advice and accountability. These professionals can tailor workouts to your specific needs, help you navigate challenges,

and keep you accountable to your goals. Their expertise can also be invaluable in ensuring you're exercising safely and effectively.


Put your plan on paper

Now that you've considered these four steps, what workout times have you committed to—evening exercise or morning exercise? Or micro workouts throughout the day? Whatever you decide, continue to prioritize physical activity and work through obstacles that arise to ensure your ultimate success.


Wellness coaching can help you work through these steps, develop a personalized and practical plan, and keep you accountable! Book a Discovery Call to learn more.

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Stephanie C. Hodges Brainz Magazine

Stephanie C. Hodges, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Stephanie Hodges is an experienced Health and Wellness coach with 20-plus years in the fitness and wellness industry. She has a Master’s in Nutrition and Exercise Science and is certified by Duke Health & Well-being as a coach. When she’s not coaching her diverse clientele (or writing about wellness, lifestyle, and digital marketing) Stephanie can be found reading, exercising, and spending quality time with her husband and three kids outside of Austin, Texas. Stephanie is passionate about holistic health and effectively implementing healthy eating, wellness habits, and mindfulness practices as integral pieces of the well-being puzzle.



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