How to fit in fitness to your weekly regime

5 busy women on how they fit exercise into their daily schedules

Posted by for Workouts

We’re all busy but that doesn’t mean that there’s no time to exercise or take care of yourself, as these five women prove. No matter what your job or situation, staying fit is a matter of finding a way of moving that you enjoy and which suits your energy levels.

Finding time for yourself between work, life admin, and cleaning or caring duties can be hard. It can be harder still when that time involves buckets of sweat and a pair of trainers.

With a long to-do list in hand, working out on working days might feel counterproductive. But incorporating fitness into your weekday routine is not just known to improve wellbeing but could also be responsible for a 72% improvement in productivity too.

Of course, everyone’s energy levels, schedules and lifestyles are different so don’t think that just because you’d rather prioritise seeing your mates above smashing a double-HIIT session, you’re doing fitness ‘wrong’; we all need and use fitness differently. To find out how to turn time-crunched fitness goals into a reality, Stylist spoke with five busy, professional women on the workout schedules they fit into their daily routines.

“I feel fit without putting in much effort”

Kate, 29, doctor

I often work long and antisocial hours, including night shifts and weekends, which makes it difficult to plan things around my shift pattern and get into a regular exercise routine. I manage to squeeze in my main forms of exercise, which are cycling and playing netball.

I cycle to work every day, which takes about 30 minutes in each direction. I often don’t have the energy to motivate myself to go to the gym or do an exercise class after work, so cycling on my commute allows me to keep fit without even thinking about it.

If I’m not working, then I’ll do a 45-minute spin class at my local gym. I also play netball every Monday in a local league with a group of other doctors from my hospital. It’s great exercise and it’s also social; if I’m having a busy week, netball allows me to combine exercise with seeing friends.

“Running first thing in the morning takes the choice away”

Tara, 32, product manager at Amazon

I work 55-60 hours a week, juggling meetings with time zones in the US, so I have to wake up at 5.30am to make time for my fitness routine. I work out at least five times a week, almost exclusively in the early morning.

Two of my mid-week runs will be around the five-mile mark, and at the weekend, I’ll run longer (between six to eight miles). To feel safer, I try to wait until 6am to start my run, which is when there are other people outside running as well. On the off days, I do a power yoga class either virtually or in my local yoga studio. I also try to hit at least 10,000 steps through walking in the morning or evening.

I’ve been doing the same running routine for about 10 years, and incorporated yoga into it about four years ago – it has really helped with stress management and keeps my mental health in check.

“I do a baseline of four HIIT workouts a week – then add what I have time for”

Hayley, 30, solutions engineer

My job can be full-on, and outside work, I visit family and friends around the UK as often as possible – there seems to be another birthday each week! I get most of my workouts in on weekdays, so I can save the weekends for socialising.

Since the start of lockdown, I’ve been doing a 30-minute HIIT workout at home before work. I really enjoy doing something first thing in the morning as it makes my morning feel more productive. I have a kettlebell and dumbbells and do kettlebell swings, squats, lunges, Russian twists and planks.

Now gyms are open again, however, I’m also working with my online coach, who has written me a gym plan for strength training. If I have a break in my work diary around lunchtime, I try to pop down to the gym (the aim is to go three times a week). The plan centres on exercises such as leg press, hack squat, pull-down, as well as free weight exercises like RDLs and bicep curls. I do four sets, working out for an hour.

I also try to do 15,000 steps per day. Some of these are on the treadmill after my workout if there is time, otherwise, I go later in the afternoon or after work. 

‘My exercise needs to serve more than one purpose to motivate me”

Jenna, 27, Senior conference producer

Working on events programmes with more than 300 speakers across six time zones leaves me little time for fitness. I also find it hard to motivate myself to exercise unless it serves another purpose.

On Mondays and Saturdays, I play hockey. Three times a week I go to a yoga class – twice a week at 7 am in the mornings before work, and once in the evening at 6 pm straight after work, or occasionally on a Sunday evening if work is too busy that week. I vary between flow, dynamic, vinyasa, and yin or restorative yoga, depending on what my body needs. Once a fortnight, I play tennis in the evening for fun.

For me, hockey is as much a way to exercise as to socialise, feel part of a team, and keep my brain happy. Yoga improves my flexibility, helps me stretch between hockey, and allows me to switch off. Tennis is something that – despite not being particularly great at it – I find fun and a way to engage my competitive side.

I’ve tried running and gym work, but they don’t give me enough mental reward, and I’m not interested in exercising to lose weight. To fit workouts into my lifestyle, I am pretty strict with my working hours and only work longer in the evening if it’s event week or there’s a work emergency. Working from home has made this much easier, and the energy that I’m saving from the exhausting commute is going straight into my workout routines.

“At 51, I’m still busy challenging myself”

Amanda, 51, public relations coach

A single mum of teenagers, I’ve got two very active springer spaniels and I run a PR membership club and coaching consultancy. When I was given a wetsuit from my brother and his triathlete partner for my 50th birthday, it was a game-changer. I went from playing table tennis against a wall in the garden shed – when we literally couldn’t leave the house – to swimming in rivers, lakes and the North Sea.

I swim every other day after the school run at about 8.30 am, or I do an hour’s work and then go. I also walk the dogs and sometimes swim in the sea in the evenings. Once or twice a week, I’ll top this up with pilates or yoga, doing yoga using the Down Dog app at home, and pilates at my local gym.

Recently, I’ve been training to swim two one-mile distances in the River Thames at the Henley Swim festival: one mile in a wetsuit and one mile in a swimming costume. Training has involved going for 1.5km swims in either the pool or a local lake. I’m hoping to increase the distance and frequency soon!

Feeling inspired? Why not check out one of our 30-minute exercise videos, guaranteed to leave you feeling more energised for your day ahead.

Images: Getty

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