Julie Sapper and Lisa Reichmann, special to wtop.com
WASHINGTON – Finding time to consistently exercise is challenging, particularly in our area, where the need to balance long commutes, careers and personal obligations often interfere with our best intentions to exercise regularly.
But with some determination and creative scheduling, carving out just a small part of your day is all it takes to be consistent with your fitness.
Book an Appointment
Write your workout times in your calendar and treat it like any of your other obligations.
The best time to exercise is whenever you are least likely to find an excuse to skip out on it. That being said, getting up an hour early in the morning to work out typically means that nothing can come up to railroad your plans and you can go about the rest of your day knowing that you already fit in your exercise.
If you have a gym or shower facility near or at your office, going in early can also help avoid rush hour traffic. Find a few friends who will rise early with you and hold you accountable if you don’t follow through.
Waking up earlier requires a conscious effort to unplug and get to bed earlier, but studies show that the most consistent exercisers are those who do it early. There are fewer excuses, temperatures are cooler during the hot summer months and you feel great the rest of the day.
Location, Location, Location
Work out where it’s most convenient. Find a gym that is near home or work and, for those with children, offers good child care.
Plan a run along a route that leaves directly from your house or office. Set up exercise equipment in your home, so that all you have to do is head downstairs for your workout.
The less time spent getting to where you are going to exercise, the more time you have for that exercise.
Have to run to the bank to deposit a check? Literally run errands by lacing up your running shoes and heading out on foot.
Put your running shoes and exercise clothes in the trunk of your car so that you can head out for an impromptu run while waiting for your car to be serviced or your kid’s soccer or swim practice to finish.
Build a Coalition
Rely on friends, family and co-workers to help you keep your resolution to stay on track with your exercise routine.
Recruit co-workers to join you at the gym or on a run, and encourage your employer to make fitness part of the company culture so that you can incorporate exercise into your work day.
Busy parents can swap babysitting time with friends so that they can work out.
Avoid a Bailout
Flexibility is key.
If you planned on an hour-long run but find yourself with just 30-45 minutes, don’t ditch your plans, altogether!
A shorter workout is better than nothing, and if you have time later in the day you can fit in another short workout.
“Snacks” throughout the day (short bursts of exercise) keep your metabolism burning throughout the day and are a practical alternative to one long workout.
Bring the Kids
For parents of little ones, invest in a running stroller, which are often available gently used and priced reasonably at local Tot Swaps in the area.
Although running with the extra weight of a child can be cumbersome, the weight provides a workout bonus — strength training.
As an alternative to bringing the kids, consider establishing babysitting swap with a fellow runner or two in your area.
Whenever and however you decide to fit in exercise into your schedule, stick with what works best for you to stay motivated and consistent.
Lisa Reichmann and Julie Sapper, regionally ranked runners and co-founders of Run Farther & Faster, provide personalized group and individual coaching to runners of all levels in the D.C. area and beyond. Check out more of their tips on Facebook and Twitter @Runfartherfast.