A common mistake people make when starting an exercise program is simply not making it a priority. They often stick exercise into their free-time. But, as soon as they get busy guess what’s the first to drop from the lis? Yep – exercise. Then we all know what happens. It’s hard to get back into the exercise routine then we start thinking about starting again at some far off, non-committal date…perhaps next January.

I am often faced with this dilemma – how to squeeze in exercise during the busy times. It’s amazing how creative you can be when you really want to do something. That’s why it’s so important to make exercise a high, unbendable priority. I give up sleep before I give up my exercise.

Here are some tips to make it easier to work exercise into your busy schedule:
1. ALWAYS remember, some exercise is better than no exercise. Don’t give up a potential workout session because you won’t have enough time to do your full routine. Even a little exercise is better than no exercise. And, more important, it keeps you in your routine.
2. Plan your shopping trips better (like to the grocery store) so that you can reduce the frequency of those trips and free up more time for exercise.
3. Get to bed a half hour earlier and wake up earlier and squeeze in the workout before breakfast.
4. Use the gym at work over lunch or immediately before or after work. Or walk or run during lunch.
5. Commute to work on a bike. This is great if you live within 10 miles of work, because you can often make the trip quicker on a bike than by other modes of transportation. Use baby wipes to wipe the sweat off if you don’t have access to a shower.
6. Half-commute. One of my friends has a nice system. He drives to work with his bike. Then he’ll ride home that night and ride back the next morning, and then drive home. This works well if you work in an area where your car is safe overnight.
7. Join in with a group to exercise. I ride bikes with a group on most Saturday mornings throughout the year. We ride out to eat breakfast and then come back and usually burn more calories than we take in. This way I can combine socializing and exercising and the time on the bike flies by when others are with me.
8. Do you watch any TV shows? Do you own a TiVO or DVR? Do you read magazines? I’ve found that I can catch up on my TV watching and magazine reading while cranking off calories on my stationary recumbent exercycle.
9. Get your friends or family interested in your activities. I bought a tandem bicycle several years ago and converted half the time I use to spend alone on my bicycle to time I spent with my wife. When we ride, we both get good workouts and quality time together. I’m looking forward to attaching a trailer and then a trail-a-bike to the tandem for my son as he grows.
10. Play what-if for the things on your schedule to find extra time. What-if you left work early one or two days a week to get in a work-out? What-if you went for a jog during your kid’s soccer practice? What-if you gave up one club or organization meeting each month for a work-out? What-if I jog or ride my bike to the gym instead of driving?

Hopefully, these tips can get you started. If you have any of your own, please post a comment or e-mail me at smcmenemy@hotmail.com.

However helpful these tips are, it doesn’t take away from the fact that your attitude is the key to making exercise a priority. If you don’t think exercise is important it won’t be and it’ll fall off your schedule, perhaps permamently, the next time you’re in a time crunch.

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