Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Exercising When Your Time is Limited

A to-do list

Most of us lead busy lives. Some, busier than others. And with long commutes, personal and family obligations, and the need to sleep once in a while we don’t always have the time to do the things that we want to do.

Often, exercise is something that gets put off. Which is unfortunate, because mental well being goes hand-in-hand with physical health. A sound mind in a sound body and all that.

Even if your time is limited, you can still get in some exercise and it can be fairly intense. You don’t need a gym membership or any equipment to do it.

Here’s a look at how.

Before You Begin

You should check with your doctor. That’s cliche advice, I know. But better to be safe than sorry.

Consider your diet, too. Try to cut out as much of the bad stuff as possible. That’s hard, I know. I gave up bread, chocolate, and beer. But I still have a few things I like to eat that aren’t as good for me as what I should be eating. Eliminating all of that will take a bit more time.

Think about why you want to exercise. If you’re planning on running a half marathon or anything like that, then what I’m about to describe isn’t for you. You’ll have to give up other things in your life to make the time to accomplish your goals. On the other hand, if you just want to have a bit more energy or lose a bit of weight then read on.

Seven Minute Workout

I wrote about that in this post a couple of years ago. While that workout is basic, it’s effective. It’s also simple. The workout takes you through a set of bodyweight and cardio exercises that you work through with a short rest in between.

All you need is a bit of space and a countdown timer. There are a few web-based timers, and a number of apps for your phone or tablet.

Visual Workouts

If you need a bit more variety in your workouts, check out the Darebee Project. The folks behind the project have put together a set of visual workouts that cover strength, cardio, and stretching.

Many of the workouts have hokey names or names inspired by pop culture — like Night’s Watch and Lara Croft — but they work. You can download each workout as a PDF file which you can view on your computer or tablet while you exercise.

An Effective 13 Minute Workout

Maybe the 7 minute workout isn’t enough for you. Or maybe you want to burn off some fat or improve your muscle tone. You can do that in 13 minutes with this workout. Yes, I have used it myself. It does what’s advertised.

I found that I had to swap out a couple of the exercises, if only because my knees (which aren’t in great shape) could take the strain of one and an exercise just wasn’t working for me.

Using a Commercial Break

If you watch TV, you have some great dead time in which to grab some exercise. While a commercial break is only two or three minutes, you can do a set of pushups, squats, and crunches in that time.

You might not be able to do more than 20 or 30 repetitions of each exercise during a commercial break. That may not seem to intense or intensive. On their own, that set of exercises isn’t. You’ll be experiencing the cumulative effect of doing several sets of those exercises over the space of 30 or 60 minutes.

Of course, you don’t need limit yourself to pushups, squats, and crunches. You can toss in any exercise. For example, you could run on the spot or do jumping jacks or mountain climbers for the duration of the break. Or mix them up with other bodyweight exercises.

Getting some exercise doesn’t have to take a lot of time. With a few minutes, the right exercises, and a bit of space you can have a stronger body. All it takes is building a habit and sticking to it.

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