In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

January 26, 2017

Exercise Tips for Those With Little Time and Energy to Work Out

By In the Loop

Group of men and women shown exercising.

Exercise procrastinators take heart. A new study suggests "people who cram all their exercise into one or two sessions at the weekend benefit nearly as much as those who work out more frequently," according to The Guardian. The findings from said study, conducted by researchers at England's Loughborough University, "will reassure people who find it hard to make time for a daily exercise routine and opt instead to break a sweat once or twice a week in the hope of keeping fit," the publication posits.

That may be good news for weekend workout warriors. But what about those of us whose idea of weekend fun is more about watching football than playing it? We turned to the Healthy Lifestyle section on for some tips to work workouts into any old day.

An article on overcoming barriers to regular exercise offers a solid, if lengthy, list — from finding time for exercise to keeping it interesting. Here are a handful of our favorites.

  1. Work with your nature, not against it. Plan physical activity for times of the day when you tend to feel more energetic, or at least not quite so lazy.
  2. Squeeze in short walks. If you don't have time for a full workout, don't sweat it. Shorter bursts of exercise, such as walking for 10 minutes a few times during the day, offer benefits.
  3. Make lunchtime count. Keep a pair of walking shoes at your desk, and take a brisk walk during your lunch break.
  4. Schedule exercise. Treat it as an essential appointment. Block off times for physical activity, and make sure friends and family are aware of your commitment.
  5. Choose activities you enjoy. Exercise doesn't have to be boring. You'll be more likely to keep on keeping on if you stay interested. Anything that gets you moving counts.
  6. Keep it simple. Try something basic, like a daily walk. Start slowly and give your body a chance to get used to the increased activity.
  7. Set realistic goals. Don't promise yourself you're going to work out for an hour every day and get down on yourself when you fall short. Stick with manageable goals, such as exercising 20 minutes a day, three days a week.
  8. Join forces.Exercise with friends, relatives, neighbors or co-workers. You'll enjoy the camaraderie and the encouragement of the group.
  9. Remember why you're exercising. Use your personal fitness goals as motivation, and reward yourself as you meet your goals.

To that last point, keep in mind the benefits of regular physical activity. "Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, boost your health, and have fun," not to mention managing your weight, according to Mayo's website. To get those benefits, aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. Whether you get those minutes in during the week or over the weekend is up to you.

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Tags: Exercise, Healthy Lifestyle, Practice story

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