Most of us like the idea of exercising. Exercising on a regular basis helps relieve stress, keeps you in shape, and provides you with other mental and physical benefits, including a longer lifespan and more energy. The problem is, most of us don’t have a surplus of free time, meaning we can’t afford to go to the gym for hours every day.

If you have many commitments, including a job, a family to take care of, and other hobbies to manage, it may feel like you have no time to exercise whatsoever. How can you possibly exercise under these conditions?

Make Your Workouts More Productive

First, make a concentrated effort to make all your workouts more productive. If you have time to exercise at all, you should exercise as effectively and efficiently as possible. There are several strategies you can use to do this.

For starters, you can eliminate time waste. How much time does it take you to change clothes? Do you dawdle from one area to the next when you switch exercises or start your routine? How much time do you spend chatting with people instead of working out?

Next, you can focus on your most productive exercises and increase intensity so you can continue seeing benefits even if you spend less time at the gym. For example, running for 15 minutes is likely more valuable than walking for 30 minutes.

You can also focus on compound exercises and full body exercises that allow you to work out multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Swimming, for example, gives you a full body work out, while bicep curls, by contrast, only work a single muscle in your arm.

Get Incidental Exercise

If you can’t squeeze in the gym at all, consider getting more incidental exercise. In other words, find ways to physically exercise while you’re doing other things.

  •       Bike to work. Consider biking to work. Your commute may be slightly longer, but it shouldn’t cost you that much time. You’ll get a great cardiovascular workout on your way to and from work, and on top of that, you’ll save money on gas and minimize your environmental impact.
  •       Park far away. When you park somewhere, consider parking slightly further away than you would otherwise. This way, you’re forced to take extra steps.
  •       Stand or bike at your desk. If you sit down all day, consider investing in a standing desk or a bike that fits under your desk. This way, you’ll be able to exercise throughout the day, or at least keep your body moving.
  •       Take the stairs. Instead of taking the elevator, take the stairs. It’s an easy decision that can help you stay in shape.

Wake Up Earlier

If you want to work a full routine into your day, consider waking up earlier. Most of us don’t like the idea of waking up any earlier than we have to, and you may already get up quite early every day. Still, you only need to wind the alarm clock back 20 or 30 minutes to make enough time for your workout. You won’t be sacrificing much sleep, but you’ll still be giving yourself enough time to hit the treadmill or squeeze in some weightlifting before you take on your other daily responsibilities.

Take a Long Lunch

If waking up earlier doesn’t work for you, is it possible for you to take a long lunch? Depending on your organization and your position within it, you may have some flexibility in when and how you take breaks. You might be able to take an hour-long lunch break in lieu of other breaks throughout the day, or in exchange for staying a bit later.

In any case, you can use your lunch time to work out (and hopefully, get some food as well). Even if all you can squeeze in is a walk around the block, you’ll be getting more exercise than you were before.

Embed Exercises Into Another Routine

It’s possible to exercise while doing other things, so consider embedding new exercises into other routines that already exist for you. For example, do you meet with your team every morning to discuss objectives and current progress? If so, consider making it a walking meeting where you all walk around the block together. Do you watch an episode of your favorite show every night after dinner? Consider hopping on a stationary bike while watching it. Use your creativity here; the possibilities are practically limitless.

As you can see, even if it feels like you have no time at all, you can probably fit more exercise into your current routine. You might have to make some sacrifices, and you might have to get creative, but there is a way for you to accomplish your fitness goals and still maintain focus on all your other priorities.