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Finding time to exercise

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Seven easy ways to work exercise into your schedule

Fitting exercise into a busy schedule can seem like a daunting task, but it can be easier than you think.

“When people get busy, often exercise is the first thing to go. People also think exercising has to mean going to the gym or running for an hour,” said William Ward, MD, of Novant Health Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. “Unrealistic expectations can deter anyone. The truth is, there are many easy ways you can work exercise into your daily schedule.”

1. Enhance your daily routine.
“Making active decisions to incorporate more movement and physical activity throughout your day can really reap rewards down the line,” Dr. Ward said. Usually search for a parking spot close to the door at the office and take the elevator to your floor? Walk a little farther by parking in the back of the lot and take the stairs to add a little more exercise to your normal routine. Walk the dog or take the kids to the bus stop in the morning? Try tacking on 15 more minutes or just take the long way home.

2. Plan ahead and write it down.
Schedule your workouts for the week ahead of time to help you prepare. Write your workouts in your schedule – your phone, your computer, your desktop paper calendar, wherever you’re held accountable – to create a visual reminder of your goals and help you stick to them.

3. Errands can be exercise, too.
Everyone has a nagging to-do list of errands to run. Cross two things off your list at once by incorporating some exercise, too. Walk to and from your errands instead of driving. Carry your groceries instead of pushing a cart. Or spend your time on line completing sets of toe raises, squats or lunges. If your errands require driving, try parking at the far end of the parking lot and walking between stores instead of moving your car from store to store.

4. Work out with a friend.
Instead of meeting for happy hour, change your date to a walk or run through the park or meet for an exercise class. Knowing that you have a friend counting on you decreases your desire to skip the workout. Plus, friends that sweat together stay together.

5. Rise and shine.
This one admittedly isn’t for everyone. However, waking up a little earlier, without cutting into your recommended hours of sleep, will give you the extra time you need to fit in a quick workout and check it off your list before taking on the challenges of your day. “It can be hard to get out the door, but I hardly hear anyone regret the move afterward,” Dr. Ward said. “It will invigorate you for the remainder of the day.”

6. Work out while at work.
Use your lunch break to take a quick walk outside or grab a workout at the gym. Feel like you can’t leave your desk? Try simple exercises throughout the day, such as jumping jacks, push-ups or even sitting on a stability ball to strengthen your core.

7. Include your favorite TV show.
Keeping dumbbells by your couch is a great reminder to get your arm workout in while watching TV. You can even do lunges, squats, toe raises and a core workout, all while never missing a beat of your favorite shows.

“Thirty minutes of exercise each day is proven to help lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes,” Dr. Ward said. “Working one of these simple steps into your daily routine will help you take control of your health with the exercise your body needs.”

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