How To Add Exercise to Daily Schedule
We are all familiar with the benefits of exercising that keep your mental and physical health in check. However, making a big lifestyle shift isn’t easy, especially if your busy schedule doesn’t allow you to devote too much time to exercising. In this article, you’ll find tips on how to add physical activity to your routine and how to stick to it when you don’t feel motivated enough. How To Add Physical Activity To Your Routine
1. Set a fitness goal to stay on track
Set a fitness goal to stay on track. Setting concrete, achievable goals for yourself can make all the difference in reaching your personal best. Setting goals can be the difference between success and failure. Whether you're looking to work on your strengths or fill a gap in your training routine, setting goals are essential to getting more out of life.
2. Learn to multitask
If the main reason you hesitate to include exercise in your routine is that you don’t think you have enough time to make it work, don’t worry; where there’s a will, there’s a way. One of the most effective ways to ensure you get enough physical activity each day is to learn how to multitask – in other words, combine pleasurable with the inevitable.
All you have to do is to identify a hobby or an activity that you do just for fun and try to mix it up with an exercise. For example, you could do some stretches while watching TV or move around while talking to someone on the phone. Get creative – it will save you time and make you healthier as a result. Similarly, you can take a walk every time you have to run errands and listen to your favorite podcast on the way.
3. Combine it with meditation
If you aren’t familiar with meditation yet, know that it’s a lot more than just sitting still and ignoring your thoughts. A lot of practices include controlled breathing and visualization which can help with a range of issues such as anxiety, chronic pain, or low confidence. In other words, it’s another thing that can do wonders for your health.
Additionally, meditation is a great excuse to include yoga in your routine. This allows you to kill two birds with one stone: improve relaxation and become more physically active. You can start by watching a few yoga guided practices on YouTube and then add a guided meditation on top of it. Schedule a few minutes per day to reap both mental and physical benefits. Changing your positions might not seem like much of exertion but it’s more physically demanding than you think.
4. Take advantage of your lunch breaks
If you only get one break per workday it might be tempting to put your feet up even if your job isn’t physically demanding because mental effort can drain your energy as fast as manual work. However, the best way to let your mind and body recover from mental exertion is to get moving.
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So, instead of eating lunch that you brought from home, you can go for a walk and get something from the shop – this way you’ll let your eyes have a break from staring at the screen and get some fresh air. You can also squeeze in a few stretches if your workspace allows it; rotate your trunk, move your neck, extend your spine, and do a few squats to keep your blood flowing.
5. Make chores fun
If you dislike doing chores as much as exercising, I have good news for you. You can make a bit more fun by taking advantage of the power of the music when you’re doing chores around the house. Play the songs that put you in a good mood; let your body respond and move around as you clean the house or sway your hips as you’re folding the laundry.
6. Make an upbeat playlist to motivate you to get up and move
Find songs that make you feel like moving and play them as soon as you’re back from work. As you’re listening, allow yourself to do whatever you feel like doing at the time; whether it’s just tapping your foot to the rhythm or standing up and dancing. You don’t have to force yourself to work out unless you really want to. With time, you might find that you want to move more and more because you’re no longer under pressure to perform and achieve goals.
7. Find 10-minute exercise videos on YouTube
If multitasking isn’t for you, you should find exercises that don’t require too much time commitment. You can find a lot of examples on YouTube – the routines tend to be intense but at least you’ll make sure you can spare time to do them every day and gradually build your stamina. Some are even only 5 minutes long so don’t be afraid to start small. If you’re consistent, you’ll see the positive effects very soon.
8. Find a new hobby or take up a new activity
Physical activity doesn’t have to include aerobics, running or strength exercises. It’s possible to find something enjoyable that makes you healthier as a result. For example, skating, horse-riding, badminton, skateboarding, just to name a few. Look up classes in your area and challenge yourself to learn a new skill that not only makes you more physically healthy but also improves your overall wellbeing.
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9. Take the stairs to get the blood pumping
One way to become more physically fit is to change your habits. Instead of opting for a lift every time you have to go up or down, make it your goal to take the stairs whenever possible. You’ll be surprised how even a subtle adjustment to your routine can have a lasting effect on your health.
10. Commute by bike or walk when you can
Public transport isn’t just bad for your health but also detrimental to the environment so another way to kill two birds with one stone is purchasing a bike. It will not only let you save money but give you a solid exercise routine as well as you’ll be forced to engage in physical activity every time you leave the house. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get to like it enough to go for bike excursions occasionally too.
11. Find a goal that you can achieve by exercising
Setting goals might not work for you, depending on how you respond to pressure, but many people find that in order to commit to an activity, they have to be driven by an internal goal. An internal goal could be a desire to lose weight, become healthier, prove yourself that you can do it or improve your mental health. Try to sit down with your thoughts and then consider what your purpose could be; it might make it easier to stick to your plan and look forward to seeing the results.
How To Stick to Your New Exercise Routine
A willingness to improve your situation and plan is one thing but sticking to the new routine is another. Even if you failed in the past, don’t give up. There are a few things you can do to make it more likely you’ll make exercising a habit.
1. Start small and make strides toward reaching your fitness goals
If you want to make a lasting change in your lifestyle, you have to introduce your targets gradually. Start by setting a goal and break it down into smaller goals. The key is to learn how to be consistent first and find the routine that suits your energy levels and lifestyle the most. For example, if you hope to be able to be physically active five days per week but you’ve never been partial to exercising, you should start from one day per week and see how it goes.
While setting ambitious goals can boost your motivation at first, a lot of people are unrealistic and overestimate their abilities which can eventually put them off exercising in the long run. Respect your limits and build your strength and stamina gradually.
2. Reward yourself
Nothing motivates more than success so you should remember to reward all physical activities you engage in on a given day, no matter how small they might seem. Even getting up and giving your body a little shake is a step in the right direction so don’t be afraid to praise your efforts. You can keep a fitness journal where you document your activity and thank yourself for caring about your health enough to change your lifestyle.
3. Be kind to yourself
One of the essential parts of working towards success is practicing self-compassion. Even though discipline matters, you can’t expect yourself to succeed all the time and pressuring yourself to work harder and more often isn’t necessarily beneficial. You must be prepared for days when you simply don’t feel like doing anything and stay kind to yourself even if it means missing out on exercising.
Whenever you feel like you’ve failed, tell yourself that it doesn’t mean that the failure is permanent and that you can’t always be at your best. Treating yourself with kindness will take the pressure off you and make you more motivated to keep going.
4. Make it social by getting friends involved in your fitness routine
Another great strategy to motivate yourself is to share a common goal with others. If you struggle to meet your objectives, you can join a support group on social media or sign up for a class where you’ll meet like-minded people who face similar struggles and challenges. Similarly, you can bring a friend along with you to the gym and motivate each other.
Additionally, make sure you surround yourself with people who care about their health. Studies show that when a friendship is supportive, one friend’s exercise habits can influence the other friend’s exercise habits.  If you’re friends with a person who spends a lot of time exercising, you’re more likely to model their behavior and enjoy a healthier lifestyle as a result.
5. Get an activity tracker to ensure you walk 10,000 steps a day
The best way to track your progress is to purchase an activity tracker that collects data about the activity you perform on a given day. Just remember that you don’t have to unlock a new achievement every day or even every week. If you get up and keep moving, that’s all that matters.
6. Read about the consequences of leading a sedentary lifestyle
You’re probably familiar with the benefits that come from exercising, yet you might find it hard to get yourself motivated because you aren’t experiencing the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle just yet. If everything else fails, you can try to remind yourself that lack of movement puts you at risk of developing many health problems such as heart disease and makes you more prone to anxiety and depression.
7. Update your exercise routine frequently
Even though you might be excited when you first begin your new routine, you might burn out quickly. This is because people like novelty and boredom can kill their motivation. The remedy is making sure to review your exercise plan every month and see if you can replace some of the exercises or tweak them a bit.
For example, there are plenty of variations of sit-up you can do. Additionally, don’t forget to mix it up. For example, if you go to the gym and focus on lifting weights, try to add some cardio to your routine, even if it doesn’t quite align with your goals.
8. Don’t view exercise and fitness as chores
Exercise is supposed to be just another habit that keeps your health in check, just as brushing your teeth or going for medical checkups does. With time, you’ll be able to engage in physical activity with ease because it will become more subconscious and less of a chore. Whenever you’re about to exercise but don’t feel like it, remind yourself that you’re doing it because have your best interest in mind.
9. Don’t compare your fitness progress to other people
The worst thing you can do is to compare your exercise routine to someone else’s. It’s okay to use social media for inspiration if you don’t know where to start but keep your journey separate from what other people are doing. You might never achieve the same level of fitness as some but having any kind of regular exercise routine means you’re already improving your mental and physical health and that’s the most important thing.
 (PDF) The influence of close others’ exercise habits and perceived social support on exercise (researchgate.net)
About the Contributor
Joanna Cakala is a multilingual writer based in the UK. Combining a degree in Psychology and passion for writing, she started her freelance journey penning articles on mental health.
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