Relevance to Manager Tools:
In the interest of general time management/maintaining sharpness/focus/health.

Seriously, how do you all make the time to exercise? After dropping my son at school in the morning then working all day (1/2 hr lunch) it's usually straight home to attend one of his baseball or spring soccer games and practices. Then it's a late supper, some time with the wife and off to bed only to get ready to do the same thing tomorrow. I will admit its less pressure now that I don't coach his team anymore but the time spent is the same.

I can't be the only one.

Some of you must be active in your community. Do you work fewer hours? Bicycle to work? Please share how you make the time and also how much time you make.

It's all I can do to walk the dog.

bffranklin's picture
Training Badge


Answering this one is difficult, simply because you aren't listing any fitness goals you have.  Goals are just as important in physical fitness as in business -- they force you to properly prioritize time and keep a focus on an end goal.  In fact, a lack of goals may be your first issue in making time!

The second half of this is ensuring that your exercise regimen is effective in helping you achieve your goals.  As little as 30 minutes every other day can be sufficient if you are employing sufficient intensity and selecting the right exercises.  My trick is owning the equipment I need (and honestly, the only thing I _really_ need to work out is someplace to do pullups), making it a priority, and having a good network of fitness coaches that can review movies of my workouts and critique form and programming.  The last item is particularly important because the man that teaches himself has a fool as both teacher and student (loosely paraphrased, I forget the exact quote).

If you're interested in specific resources on programming your own fitness regimen, post some goals and where you are in relation to them, and I can probably point you at a few sites that post daily workouts for free.  It'd also help if you listed the fitness equipment you owned.

asteriskrntt1's picture

find one on Craigslist... old technology, great results... bang out 30 minutes before work, it is gold. And like BF said, goals goals goals. 


bug_girl's picture

Yes. Really!

You can do it at home, and it rapidly becomes a spectator sport for the family. Especially when you are hula-hooping ;p

It's not the same as a "real" workout, but it is easy to fit into a busy schedule.  You probably won't loose lots of weight, but you will get your heart up and stretch muscles.

Graaace's picture

I found a few other people in my department who were willing to walk after work (or towards the end of the work day).  Having at least one other person who is willing to do this with you helps keep you accountable.  Sometimes myself or someone else would have to skip walking if there was a major issue but there were always a few who would be able to go and having them ask, "are you joining us" was often enough motivation to stop what I was doing and go walk and finish what I was working on when we were done.  We all brought tennis shoes to work so we could change into them and would walk around our buildings twice which amounted to a half-hour -- which may not seem like much but at a brisk pace it was enough to make a difference.  After doing this for a bit we had people from other departments who saw us walking ask to join us as well which had the added benefit of helping to expand inter-departmental relationships.  You could check with friends in your department or post a flier in the breakroom or something like that.

The other thing that made a difference...and this sort of depends on how competitive you are... is tracking your calories burned each day.  You can do it for a minimal investment with a pedometer or for really accurate info get a FitBit ($99).  The FitBit has a motion sensor in it like the kind in a Wii and can tell you how many calories you've burned while sitting at your desk, walking the dog, exercising, it can even track your sleeping.'s like a game to me to hit my daily target of calories burned so if I see that I'm on the low side I try to find ways to step it up like taking a flight of stairs or walking to the printer instead of rolling my chair over to it, etc.  Sometimes just doing these extra things make a difference as you become more aware of how sedentary you really are so you try to move more even if it's in other ways beside an actual exercise regimen. 

Once you gain some momentum with trying to reach your calorie burn goal or walking you may find you're motivated enough to carve out time for a more formal exercise regimen and stick with it.

Solitaire's picture

The only way I can do it is to get up earlier.

I have a young daughter to get up and dressed and taken to Nursery every day, and collected in the evening. There never seems to be time to excercise otherwise. I get up 30-45 minutes earlier on the days I excercise and do it at home.

I have a cross-trainer machine and some exercise DvDs of various types to enable me to concentrate on different areas that need focus.

Good luck!

jakeski's picture

Getting up earlier was my only real solution (4:45am wake up).  And I let go of thinking its going to be enjoyable or fun or optional. 


MsSunshine's picture

I get up at 4:45 and try to walk a few days at lunch.  The trick with getting up early for me is to have my stuff all laid out and just get up - no excuses!  Now my body just wakes up around that time.

Consider walking as an opportunity to network with a person or two.  I try to get a few people to go out a few times a week.  Some are people I used to work with and don't see much.  You could be surprised at the people who might be interested.  I just started inviting a group of people who I new.  Some of them I didn't know well but wanted to get to know.  Sometimes I invite a specific person and it's really networking with them.  Other times, I grab a group.  For a group, I can do a group IM.  It's easy. 

Tuatara's picture

First of all, let me start by saying that the title of your thread is brilliant.


On topic now. It isn't easy. I read somewhere that you need to take the plunge and start it and then keep at it for 3 weeks for it to become a habit. As BFranklin said, you need to set goals, that will help prioritize.

A couple of options are: 1 - Get up a little earlier in the moring (as mentioned above). 2 - Get back into coaching the team. Seriously, it will get you some exercise. If not, then your doing it wrong. 3 - Join a club with your wife. It doesn't have to be a gym, it can be the local squash club, dance club, whatever, something you can do together. There is no point working your tail off if the people you are doing it for never get to see you or you don't get an opportunity to enjoy the fruits of your labour. 4 -On weekends, choose family outings that require exercise.

It will not be easy, you have to seriously want it, or it will not get done.

mksilk's picture
Licensee Badge

Turn your question around. How do you make time to get to work? You do so by working backwards from the time you must be at the office, dropping kids off etc. Therefore you need a plan. Plus do not plan to exercise every day - going from nothing to everything will mean you will fail. On sunday night (once the kids are in bed) plan your week. Get up early 2 days, tues and thurs and try that. Plus look at exercise as the only time of day that is for YOU. Most of the day is for your family or the company you work for, exercise is for you, and you only (knock on effects are amazingly beneficial as well).

The other option - buy a pedometer. Track what you would achieve on a 'normal' day and then look for every opportunity during the day to increase your output. eg take the stairs instead of a lift, get off the bus one stop earlier. You never know ,you might create more time to listen to podcasts!

You can do it, any of us can achieve anything. I recently watched my wife lose 30kgs since having our last child. Her single minded approach, her dedication, her motivation was amazing. She did this whilst having 3 kids under the age of 5! So go on, try it and set yourself a goal...

jclishe's picture

Tuatara hit the nail on the head. Regardless of any suggestions or tips that you get on this, success boils down to one simple, unavoidable, fact:

You have to seriously want it. Period.

And it won't be easy.

I do triathlons and am currently training about 15 hours a week for an Ironman. My training week consists of 1 rest day, 1 "light" workout day, 3 days of 2 workouts per day, and 2 days of long workouts (3 - 5 hours each day). I'm the father of 2 boys, ages 7 and 9, they're in flag football and have 2 practices and 1 game per week, I work 40-50 hours per week, and I travel for work. I'm constantly having people either asking me how I find time for that, or telling me that they "wish they had time to workout that much but am just too busy". We all have the exact same amount of time available to us, it just boils down to how we each choose to spend our time based on our individual priorities, goals, and dreams.

There is no silver bullet, no secret sauce, nothing that anyone can tell you that will suddenly flip a switch inside of you that makes exercising any easier. You already know that you can wake up earlier, or exercise on lunch, or lay your clothes out the night before. But none of that will matter if you don't SERIOUSLY want it. (don't get me wrong, I'm not discounting any of the great suggestions that others have made, I'm just saying that those suggestions aren't the keys that will ultimately define the original posters success).

When it comes to working out and sticking, long term, to an exercise program, the old rule thumb to stick with it for 3 weeks and it will become a habit simply isn't true. You need to have a clear goal in mind and you need to be prepared to fight tooth and nail for the sake of your goal, every day for the rest of your life.

Trust me, I've been working out 15 hours per week since January and I can tell you with absolute certainty that it's NOT a habit. Not even close. It's extremely hard and somedays it downright sucks. The only thing that keeps me going is the mental image that I wake up to every morning of me crossing the finish line at Ironman Louisville on August 29th 2010, and my desire to not let anything stop me.

It doesn't get easier over time. Every day of every week of every month of every year from here until the day you die, it will be hard. There will be days you're tired, days you're sore, days you have to run in the cold rain, days you have to travel for work or cut the grass or take the kids to ball games or have friends over for a BBQ or are on a family vacation or are out to a professional dinner and everyone else at the table is ordering cheesecake after dinner. You get the idea. EVERY day there will be something getting in your way, preventing you from exercising. That's a fact that doesn't go away, ever. The only thing that can keep you going throughout all of it is your mental resolve to bleed for the sake of your ultimate goal.

Don't focus on how to find the time. Instead, focus on being completely honest with yourself around how much you're willing to fight and sacrifice for the sake of your personal fitness on an ongoing, neverending basis, and then set realistic goals based on that. The problem is that most people have vastly different ideas between what they "wish" they looked like compared to how badly they're actually willing to fight for it. Once you have a realistic alignment between your ultimate goal and your willingness to fight and sacrifice for said goal, then you'll have acheived the right mindset to start tackling how you'll actually accomplish it.

Going back to the beginning, you have to seriously want it. It's hard. So start by being honest with yourself about what, exactly, it is that you "seriously" want. From the tone of your original post I gather that you lean more towards feeling like you "have" to exercise instead of seriously wanting to. I personally think you're approaching this as more of a "checkbox" exercise than a deep motivation to workout. It seems like you feel that exercise is a task that's "supposed to be" on your task list and you simply want to know what you need to do in order to tick that checkbox at the end of the day. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, so long as your ultimate goals are in line with that. You get out what you put in. I'm not here to judge you and I think it's awesome that you want to incorporate exercise into your day and are reaching out for help. My point is simply to recommend that you get inside your own head and be honest with yourself about what you truly want, and then go from there.

BTW - this is a subject that I'm really passionate about (can you tell? :)) and I certainly hope that my comments don't offend anyone. I simply believe that there's way too much fluff when it comes to health and fitness and not enough people and media outlets telling the cold hard truth about how hard it really is. Magazines and health and fitness products sell based on how easy it will be, or how LITTLE time you need to spend to see results. Just once I'd like to see a magazine headline that says "Want abs like this? Here's a really hard, lifelong plan just for you!". That's what it takes but you'll never see that because we, as consumers, only want the quick and easy. The US is the fattest and unhealthiest nation simply because we want results quick and easy, and the health and nutrition industry is only making it worse.

ShannonCorin's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge


Thank you for your comments. I have a hard time committing to exercising on a regular basis. I will do it for 3 weeks or more and then something comes up and I stop. I find it is hard to get back into a routine unless I make the time and I am motivated. Your response has helped me to realize some truths about myself and what I want. So, thank you again.

jclishe's picture

Thanks Shannon.

I didn't really mention this in my original post (it was long enough as it is, LOL), but personal education is vitally important to long term success. Most people don't know what their body needs, they simply do what everyone else in the gym is doing and eat what the magazines say to eat, or things that have a low fat label. They don't know why they're doing what their doing, but it's what everyone else is doing so it must be right, right?

I have a friend that I can always tell when he's trying to lose weight because he'll eat salads for lunch. I'll ask, "why are you eating a salad?" and he'll say "because I want to lose weight." And I'll say "I know. But WHY are you eating a SALAD?". He'll say he's trying to lose weight, I'll ask him again why he's eating a salad, and round and round we go and we never get anywhere. Point is, he has no idea why he's eating a salad. He just assumes that salads are healthy and are the gateway to weight loss.

Same thing goes for low fat foods. Man, this is something that gets my blood boiling. The industry has led us to believe that fat makes us fat so people just blindly choose low fat foods. Problem is, low fat foods generally have higher sugar than their regular fat counterparts, and increasing your sugar leads to insulin swings and crashes, increased hunger, chemical inbalances in your body, and even diabetes. So which should you choose, high fat / low sugar, or low fat / high sugar?

There's no easy answer to that question and lots of variables, but it illustrates the point that you need to educate yourself on how your body works, not only from a nutritional perspective but also from an exercise perspective, to the point where you can make your own educated decisions about what to eat, when to eat it, and how to exercise.

Once you overcome the education hurdle, things really do get easier because the decisions you make become more effective, which helps to keep you motivated.

medphred's picture

Many good comments already that I'll paraphrase / add to ....

Need to have clear goals - What do you want to achieve? By when?  Be honest here - improved CV health, loose 10 lbs, run a 10k, etc. Start w/ an end goal in mind.

Break it down to manageable bites - If you know where you want to go its a lot easier to start outlining the tasks to get there ... at least for a high D/C like me ;-)  If you're more of a high S, make your goals wrap around exercising with others etc.

Commit - its my belief that there are ALWAYS enough hours in the day to get exercise in.  Or reading.  Or whatever it is that you feel is important and something you're committed to.  But you'll need to make the time.  There are tons of things that take up time that you can drop.  If you've read The Dip then you'll know that you'll need to quit some things. 

For example, I trained for an ran a marathon while working for a start up (anyone who's done a start up knows that it sucks up most of your free time).  I also had 7 yr old twins.  So not much free time.  The only time I could get was early am.  Running the marathon was a commitment for me.  So I got up at 530 every day and ran.  I delegated some stuff off so I could find the time.  I quit some stuff (including some sleep lol) so I could find the time.  My wife gave me great support while I was training.

I also did P90X.  The only way I could do it was to get up at 530 every single day. You dont have to do that routine but there are other DVD based exercise routines that you can do at a time that work for you.  But for me early am was the only time I could do it ... work often dragged over into lunch and I wanted to be home for dinner with the family.

Some one else said it but once you make the commitment stick to it for a while.  Get a buddy if you can as it gives extra motivation.

Best of luck!