Whether it’s pounding the streets, dancing in the living room or working up a sweat in the garden, many people have used their spare time at home to find new ways of staying active over the past weeks and months.
In fact, according to a survey published in May by Sport England, 63% of Brits said exercise and staying fit had been important for their mental health in recent weeks.
But how do you keep your new exercise habits going when life gets busier? For example, you may be travelling to the office again after some time working from home.
Here are a few ways to help you keep fit when you’re time poor.
Set targets, plan and monitor your progress
Know what your fitness goals are. Do you want to do a small amount of exercise each day to keep active or are you aiming for something more specific? Set yourself a target and a realistic deadline to give you something to focus on.
Life is busy. So, you’ll need to plan ahead to ensure you make time for exercise. Use the calendar app on your phone to block out times during the week for exercise and set reminders for it. It will help you figure out which days you’re most busy and which days you can be more flexible with.
Keep an eye on how often you meet a daily target or if you’re on track to meet your goal. Don’t be disheartened if things get in the way of your fitness routine. Consider shuffling around your schedule or setting a more achievable target.
Setting target step counts can be a great motivator. You can get a free pedometer app to monitor how many steps you walk each day and calculate the calories burned.
If setting a rigid schedule really doesn’t work for you, make a commitment to squeeze in a bit of exercise whenever you can. You’ll feel better for doing something than nothing at all.
Leave your car at home
If you can, try walking, running or cycling to work once a week.
Replacing the morning commute with exercise is a great way to meet your daily activity goals early, without losing too much of your time. You’ll also save on your commuting costs. Ask your employer about any cycle-to-work schemes they might be running.
Walk the long way round
If you already walk to work, you’re already doing a good job at keeping active. Perhaps you could you make the most of your routine by taking a longer route? The same goes for popping to the shop or post office. Even just a few extra minutes walking or one more lap around the block will help.
Get support and make it social
Exercising outdoors with a friend - at a safe distance - can make staying fit a lot more fun. It’s also a great way of staying connected to the people you care about.
Friends and family will also help drive your motivation. You’re less likely to skip a session if it means missing a catch-up with a friend. They can encourage you if you’re feeling low-energy and need that gentle push to get going.
Alternatively, you can harness the power of social media and find people with similar fitness goals to share progress and tips with.
If you prefer to train alone, you could use an exercise app, like Couch to 5K, to monitor and reward your progress.
Stick to what you enjoy
Hate running? Find something else. There are plenty of ways to keep fit and stay in shape which, like running, don’t require any specialist equipment. You’ll find it harder to stick to something that you don’t enjoy doing.
Pick activities that fit your taste and abilities, as well as your lifestyle.
Make life easier for yourself. If you’re really pushed for time, then break your activity into 10-minute chunks.
If you feel like you lack energy, then work out which what time of day you feel more energetic and try to make the most of that time.
If you exercise in the morning and it’s a mad rush, then get your workout clothes out the night before so you’re ready to go as soon as you get up.
Fit physical activity into your working day
Doing some exercise at lunchtime, even if it’s just a brisk walk, can really help you break up your day and make the most of your time.
In fact, while at work, use every opportunity you can to be active. Walk while you’re talking on the phone and see if you can convince colleagues to hold walking meetings, provided you can do so at a safe distance, rather than all sitting down.
Do what you can, when you can
Gardening, a brisk walk to the shops, hoovering, sweeping, dusting – it all helps.
Don’t worry about how you look doing it, dance to the song that just came on the radio, or do some push ups while you wait for the kettle to boil. The options are endless.
Harness your inner child
If you have young kids, then you’re likely to be constantly amazed by the huge amounts of energy they have, running around endlessly.
Why not join in? The next time you’re in the garden or at the park, then get involved in that game of football or tag. They’ll be thrilled to have you join in too.
It’s amazing how many opportunities there are to add a little bit of exercise into your day. You might even enjoy it.