How to Stay Active When You're Busy

Oct 2022

Finding time to exercise consistently can be so hard when we’re busy, already exhausted and feeling like we are juggling a million-and-one things already. I hear you, I really do.

So this article is absolutely not about loading on more expectations or pressure. But I do want to gently remind you that we don’t need to have an all-or-nothing mindset around physical activity. Even if we can’t regularly spend an hour at the gym, in a class or out running, we can probably find a few minutes while brushing our teeth or waiting for the kettle to boil to jog on the spot or do some squats. A little can go a long way. I’d also hazard a guess that perhaps when we are at our most overwhelmed, making a little space to move our body and release some of that pent-up stress through movement might be just the tonic we are after.

How to stay active when you’re busy article

Here are a few ideas to get you off the starting line:

Getting out the door or on to the mat is the hardest part

Remember that overcoming the inertia to begin exercise is almost always the hardest part. You can use this to your advantage. Tell yourself that all you need to do is take the first 10 steps out of the door, or do the first 1 minute of the class, and then you can call it a day at that if you want. Chances are, once you’re dressed and you’ve started, you’ll actually want to continue. If you don’t, then it’s OK to honour that your body needs rest too.

Integrate your exercise as much as possible

As far as possible, try to get movement into your day as you’re doing the things you need to do, rather than having to carve out separate time. Walk or cycle the kids to school or to work, always take the stairs, sit on a bouncy ball at your desk, move the printer / bin / laptop charger away from your desk so you have to stand up every time you need it, spend more time gardening, park at the far side of the car park. You get the gist.

Play around with movement ‘snacks’

I loved this idea of movement ‘snacks’ from Rangan Chatterjee. Take the opportunity to move a little bit when you’d otherwise be waiting. Keep hand weights by the kettle. Squat while doing your teeth or one hold on the phone. Run on the spot for 10 seconds every time you stand up from your desk. Walk while taking phone calls. Little moments like this really do add up over time.

Minimise sitting for prolonged periods

It’s easy to move significantly less if working from home (without the effort of the commute), so set a timer to get up and move every hour or so. 5 star jumps or running on the spot for a few seconds gets everything moving again. There are various wearable devices (like the FitBit) that will help remind us to move if we’ve been static for too long.

Get the kids involved

Run around the park, play on the climbing frames, do yoga with some extra obstacles (or weights!), get on your bike, go for a swim, play hide and seek, get everybody doing some Joe Wicks workouts (freely available on YouTube), try a Park Run, have a giant kitchen dance party. There are so, so many ways to combine childcare and movement, and there are no better accountability partners than children!

Make use of amazing free online resources

Lockdowns meant that many online exercise classes and programmes blossomed. There really is something for everyone now available online, mostly entirely free. Here’s just a little selection:

Sweaty Betty offers a wide selection of at-home workouts

Yoga with Adriene is an institution for a reason. Her classes are wonderful

Fightmaster Yoga for more advanced classes

Fitness Blender – over 600 free workouts available online

Couch to 5k

NHS fitness studio

And I love a bit of Joe Wicks for the whole family to get involved

Remember that a little is better than nothing. 


Please note that the information on this website is provided for general information only, it should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional providing personalised nutrition or lifestyle advice. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider.

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