Time-Challenged? 6 Ways To Sneak In A Workout

John Boitnott

We all know that regular exercise is important. But if you’re like lots of entrepreneurs and other business professionals, it’s hard to add a trip to the gym to your already over-scheduled calendar.

Of course, some entrepreneurs give their workouts priority over everything else — even meetings with clients. You don’t need to take it Victoria, Australia --- Morning jogger on banks of Yarra River with city skyline in background.  Melbourne, Victoria, Australia --- Image by © Ocean/Corbisto that extreme to live a healthy lifestyle, but there are certainly lessons to be learned from these dedicated individuals – like making your workout one of many priorities. Celebrities like Jennifer Aniston tout the benefits of “mini workouts” throughout the day, especially on days you can’t dedicate longer time slot. All those little workouts add up, and there’s no rule that says workouts need to done during specific time blocks.

The good news? If you’re an entrepreneur, you might be a Type-A personality already. There’s also a chance you’re a morning person, which numerous studies have shown is an effective time to work out. If your goal is to maintain or reduce body fat, consider a cardio activity first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. It doesn’t work for everyone, but a fasted cardio session can help some people keep trim. If bulking up/toning is your goal, consider lifting or strength training after a five-minute cardio warmup and saving the rest of the cardio for later in the day.

More good news: There are many ways to sneak in workouts, even for the busiest entrepreneurs. Here are a few:

1. Skip gym commutes.

Driving to the gym, changing, and showering can suck up a lot of time. Try urban hiking or running, or do a live yoga class right from your laptop. The less time you spend commuting, the more time you save.

2. Stay in your workout clothes (if you can).

This isn’t feasible for all entrepreneurs, but if you work from home or in a very casual office, stay in your workout clothes. All that changing back and forth (plus dealing with extra laundry) can waste time. If you’re already in workout clothes, you’ll be more inclined to (surprise!) work out.

3. Take every opportunity to work out.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator, do a set number of pushups every 20 minutes to stay sharp, and don’t be embarrassed to test out some desk-ercises. All those little efforts pay off, especially with strength building. In a 45-minute lifting session, a lot of time is spent resting to let your muscles recover and keep your heart rate down. You can do the same thing over an 8+ hour period right in your office.

4. Remember: 80 percent is diet.

Working out burns fat, increases your metabolism and muscle mass, and improves overall wellness from your heart to your joints. However, no amount of working out will keep you healthy if you have a poor diet. You need to fuel the machine, and a healthy body is 80 percent diet/20 percent exercise. On days when you just can’t work out, pay extra attention to your diet and keep it low-carb and high-protein.

5. There’s an app for that.

You use technology for a lot of things – why not your workouts? These don’t need to be boring “insert calories or workout here” type of apps. Some apps include motivational tips and demonstrations from athletes and other role models. Downloading a baseball app, for example, might motivate you to enjoy a pickup game or even join a softball league instead of heading to happy hour (again).

6. Join a support group.

Ideally, this group should be outside your entrepreneurial circle so you don’t put all your “social eggs” in one basket. Most people thrive with a wide variety of friends. Join a jogging group or an online support group. When you surround yourself with active people who enjoy the same workouts as you, you can “check out” of your venture and give yourself a social “workout treat.”

If you work at – or founded – a startup or small company, you have ambition, or you wouldn’t have reached your level of success. You know that your work can be a lifelong endeavor, and the same goes for your health and workouts. The bottom line: Staying in shape deserves just as much attention as what you do to make money.

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About John Boitnott

John is a longtime digital media consultant who has written for Venturebeat, FastCompany, Search Engine Journal and NBC. He lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.