How to Maintain Your Exercise Goals When Life Gets Hectic

Yes, you can keep exercise a daily priority even on the busiest of days.

One of my exercise goals for 2010 was to exercise five to six days per week. However, now that I’ve added a part-time MBA program to my full-time job and blogging schedule, that goal is unrealistic. For a busy girl who wants to keep health and exercise one of her central priorities, what’s she to do?

Now, rather than say, “Screw it, I’m too busy,” and throw in the towel on my exercise goals, I realized I had to readjust them.

Too often when we fall off the wagon of working toward a goal, we use the all-or-nothing approach. The mentality becomes, “I haven’t worked out in weeks, so what’s the point? Why bother when I’ve already let myself go?”

The good news about falling off the wagon is that you can always hop back on.

The key is to make sure you try a different approach the next time to prevent making the same mistakes.

With that in mind, my new, readjusted goal is to do quality workouts, three to four times a week and then fill in the other days with quantity exercises.

Quantity AND Quality

On days where you know you won’t have time to play outside or hit the gym, go for quantity exercises: Try to do as many mini workouts as you can. Some examples:

More Mini Exercises: The Quantity Approach

  • Park at the back of the parking lot of work and walk
  • Take the stairs everywhere you go
  • Hold the plank position for one minute
  • Go for a walk on your lunch break
  • Do squats while you brush your teeth
  • See how many pushups you can do
  • Speed-clean your home

On days where you have more time (half an hour to an hour), go for quality.

Interval Training: The Quality Approach

Interval training will give you the biggest bang for your buck. (This is assuming you are someone who already exercises at least occasionally. If you’re just starting out exercising, you should ask your doctor for an exercise plan that meets your needs.)

Interval training is an exercise system where you push yourself extremely hard, then moderately hard, then take it easy or rest. Each stage is only a few minutes, so one full cycle would be 12 minutes, spending four minutes in each stage. Two or three cycles of interval training and you’ve crammed several days’ worth of exercise into about 30 to 40 minutes!

“‘High-intensity interval training is twice as effective as normal exercise,’ said Jan Helgerud, an exercise expert at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. ‘This is like finding a new pill that works twice as well … we should immediately throw out the old way of exercising,’” according to this Associated Press (AP) article by Maria Cheng.

I haven’t done interval training since my high school sports’ days mainly because it is definitely one hell of a workout, and I enjoy my moderately-paced jogs. After reading Cheng’s article though, I think I’ll give it another try.

Even if you just develop the habit of taking the stairs instead of the elevator, that’s one bit of exercise you wouldn’t have achieved otherwise. Remember, as I’ve said before, the tiny secret to achieving big goals is doing a little bit (almost) every day.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, please share it with others and/or tell me what you thought. Thanks!

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This entry was posted in Fitness and Exercise Goals, Goals, Habits and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to How to Maintain Your Exercise Goals When Life Gets Hectic

  1. babymom says:

    Love this post. I fall off the wagon all the time and wonder if I should ever get back on it. Thank you for reminding me I should 🙂

  2. Laura Lee Bloor says:

    Hi babymom,
    Thanks! Of course you should get back on it! Life is busy, things come up — but tomorrow is a new day with a new opportunity to try again with a different approach.

  3. Emily says:

    Great post. I have had a hard time training for my half marathon this year. It’s been too snowy to get in some good miles. I have found ways around this–neighborhoods make great places to run. Even if you have to repeat your route several times over, it’s still better than sitting on the sofa. It will also make that first trail run that much more exciting when the snow melts!

    I also found a running partner. We run at night because we have busy schedules. I now own more reflective gear and flashlights than I ever thought possible! Even though we may look silly, we’re still out there.

  4. Laura Lee Bloor says:

    Go, Emily! What an excellent example of “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Sure, repeating your run through the neighborhoods might get a little monotonous, but at least you’re getting your mileage in!

    I’m also very glad to hear you have a running buddy. Everyone who runs long distances should never run alone. A cross-country runner who was a 17-year-old girl was attacked and killed recently in San Diego County. It was a big, sad wake-up call to us runners who think, “Nothing will happen, we live in a safe place.” Sorry to be a downer, but I just wanted to put it out there.

  5. Alex says:

    You just pumped me up…seriously. I am in college full time, work part-time, and have a blog. I barely have time to workout and have not designated ANY time to it. I have been throwing in the towel for some time, but I finally began doing push ups each day. I never thought about interval training, which would definitely be super effective. Thanks for the much needed tips! Just found your blog by the way and really looking forward to reading more.

  6. Laura Lee Bloor says:

    Thanks so much, Alex! Sounds as if we have a lot in common. Good luck with your busy schedule and trying to fit in a little more exercise every day. Thanks for reading — I’ll do my best to keep you motivated!

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