Pain Free Working

How To Exercise If You Don’t Have Time

Living a busy schedule and trying to balance work, personal life, family, responsibilities, studies, interests, and the like can make it difficult to incorporate exercise into your day.

Most people end up writing off workouts, stating that they have “no time to exercise.” If you’re one of those people, fret not, for there are many ways to stay healthy by fitting workouts into your day-to-day even if you’re incredibly busy. Read on to know more!

“No Time to Exercise” is Just an Excuse

It’s not a surprise if you’ve uttered the phrase “I have no time to exercise” at least once or multiple times in your life. According to the Huffington Post, a survey even revealed that among 22,000 participants, more than 30% stated that the number one reason why people choose to not exercise is that they don’t have the time to do so. 

However, when the same people were asked “How often do you spend time on the Internet for pleasure?” Around 80% said that they typically spend more than an hour a day, seven days a week, on the internet for fun. Twenty-six percent of the participants even answered that they spend more than three hours a day on the internet daily.

A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control showed that, on average, people have about 5 hours of free time per day. When you put the survey’s results and the CDC’s discovery together, it shows that the root cause of missing workouts isn’t due to a lack of time but rather, it’s an excuse for others to do something else. 

All hope is not lost yet for there’s a way to remedy this lack of time for exercise. Personal trainers say that the way to go about it is to re-frame what working out means to you.

Reframing exercising means you have to understand that it’s not a big problem if you don’t go to the gym, don’t lift weights every day, and don’t run a million miles a day, but it is a problem if you don’t have any form of physical activity.

Exercising doesn’t mean that you have to be sweating buckets or be physically exhausted for it to be effective. It simply means that you need to incorporate more movement throughout the day.

The moment that you understand that working out is simply the act of moving more, it will allow your mind to view it as something enjoyable, something that you should do on a regular basis, and something that can lift your overall quality of life.

How to Increase Your Physical Activity Even If You’re Busy

There are numerous ways for you to fit in a workout in your day! Starting a fitness program doesn’t mean flipping your day upside down; you’ll only need to rearrange things here and there and it won’t even require you that much time.

Research has shown that short bouts of physical activity can be just as effective for weight loss and healthy as longer workouts. Moreover, a lot of people find it easier to stick to a shorter workout routine than a longer one. 

There are also studies that show how short bouts of exercise can also help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease in the same way that longer workout sessions can. When you think about how you can break up your exercises into 10-minute sessions, you’ll find that the “lack of time” excuse doesn’t really work anymore. 

With that said, here are several things that you can do to squeeze more exercise into your day, no matter how busy you may be:

Start Small

Committing to a workout doesn’t mean that you have to clock in hours upon hours of gym time right away. You can always start small. You can get an efficient workout in just 30 minutes. In fact, you can even break your exercise into smaller chunks that you can do throughout your day if you can’t manage it all at once.

Don’t forget this advice: any exercise counts. If you can only make one gym session or fitness class a week, that’s more than fine. From starting small, you can build your way up once you get used to making time for exercise. 

Some small ways that you can bring more exercise into your daily activities include taking the stairs, getting off a bus stop early and walking the rest of the way, going for a walk during your break, and doing a workout while watching TV, among others. 

Wake Up Earlier

Waking up early can be tough for a lot of people, so waking up earlier than usual may sound even more daunting. If you’re a morning person though, getting up earlier than usual may be a great way to fit in a workout.

Exercising first thing in the morning is a smart move as you can get that workout done before anyone or anything can interrupt you and demand your attention. Additionally, you can get active without feeling that exercise is something that is taking you away from things that are important to you for the day.

If you’re having a hard time getting out of bed, you can try waking up 10 to 15 minutes earlier and jumping into doing a quick yoga or strength routine. Another way that can motivate you to work out early is to have your exercise clothes laid out the night before and set your alarm. That way you are reminded that you need to get moving as soon as you wake up.

Walk or Cycle to Work

Instead of driving, take a walk or ride your bicycle If you live close to your workplace. Walking or cycling allows you to fit exercise into your routine without it taking too much of your time. If walking or cycling all the way isn’t possible, you can combine it with your drive or public transport commute by parking away from your office or getting off at a stop earlier. 

Exercise During Lunchtime

Lunch is the perfect time for structured exercise at work. You can squeeze in a 5-10 minute exercise at your desk before eating. If there’s a gym nearby, you can also swing in for a quick session.

Remember, you don’t have to work out during your entire lunchtime; you can do 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or even 30 minutes, and you’ll still have time to eat.

Take Standing or Walking Meetings

Have a meeting lined up in your schedule? You can cross two things at once in your to-do list by working out as you attend your meeting. A great way to increase your activity levels while discussing matters with your co-workers is to have walking meetings.

You can get some fresh air while talking and walking around. As you return to the office, your meeting will naturally wind up, making it a more productive and shorter session than usual as well. 

If walking while discussing isn’t possible, you can stand during meetings instead. Being on your feet is much better than sitting. This way, you can also practice engaging your core as you tackle work matters.

Do Sit-Ups or Squats While Waiting for Something

Are you at home and waiting for your laundry to finish? Perhaps you’re waiting for the kettle to boil or waiting for dinner to be ready? If these downtimes are familiar to you, take the opportunity to do small exercises such as sit-ups, squats, push-ups, jumping jacks, stretches, and the like. 

This also works if you’re waiting in line or if you only have two minutes to spare before you need to do something. We’re not saying that you drop down to the floor and do push-ups! You can practice subtle exercises such as stretching or engaging your core.

Remember, all the little things count! Working out for small periods can be very effective in increasing your activity levels which can help you feel good and become healthy without feeling that you have to commit a lot of your free time to it.

Schedule Your Workouts

When you really feel like you don’t have any extra time to work out, something that you can do to truly make time is to plan ahead and schedule. Even if you just plan on using a cardio machine for 10 minutes, treat your exercises like a meeting that you have to meet by appointment.

Set a time, and stick to it. You can even plan out how long and when you’ll do it. You can turn this into a routine as you get used to it, which can help lower the mental strain of “finding the time” and help you stay accountable to yourself.

Watch While Doing Workouts

You can raise your heart rate while catching up on your favorite shows. Hop on the treadmill and play your missed episodes on your phone as you move. You can use the length of the episode as a marker to know how long you’ve been sweating it out. 

Make It Social

Kill two birds with one stone by combining workouts and socializing! Instead of sitting around and having drinks with friends before dinner or lunch, suggest walking around to boost your step count.

You can also suggest taking a fitness class together to make working out more fun. Of course, this isn’t just limited to your friends! You can do group workouts with your family or your co-workers too. 

Be Kind to Your Body

A great part of any workout routine is recovery. While resting may seem like going against the concept of working out, trust us when we say that your body will thank you for resting.

Insisting to push and making yourself work harder while you’re tired or when you have sore muscles and joints won’t do you any good. Schedule a rest day to help your body recover so you can enter your next workout session with a great outlook.


Exercise doesn’t need to be your absolute priority but if you want to achieve your health and fitness goals, it definitely should be one of them. You don’t have to do an hour of gym time every day; simply doing short bursts of workouts whenever you’re able to can help improve your body and health. 

If you feel any discomfort while exercising, rest immediately and seek the advice of a personal trainer or talk to a medical professional.

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.