Joelle Zarcone

Squeezing in your workout during the work week can feel like an impossible feat. Sometimes, it can feel like you need a calendar reminder just to get into bed before 11pm every night — when are you supposed to find the time to work out?

We get it. 

We're all busy, and often the first thing to fall to the wayside are the things that feel like "extras," or too hard manage, time-wise. 

But exercise is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety — meaning, you may actually be able to accomplish more during your crazy work/life schedule by carving out that little bit of self-care time throughout your day. 

Not sure how to fit in your workout? Here are some tips:

1. Treat it like an important meeting.

Whether it’s that spin class you love at 7am or a run around your neighborhood, consider it as valuable as your client meeting or picking up your little one at soccer practice (pssst - it IS). It’s an important appointment with yourself, and you don’t have to let anything else take precedence during that one hour (or however long) time slot of your day. Don’t cancel on yourself.

2. Plan your workouts out in advance.

Get that calendar out! At the start of the week, think about what fitness classes or workouts you’d like to do based on your schedule on any given day and then mark them on your calendar. That way there’s no second guessing or stressing about what to do, when, or how. Think of it sort of like meal planning, but with exercises.

3. Do a workout you genuinely enjoy.

Just because your pal Sally loves running and says it’s the best workout doesn’t mean you have to be a runner, too. We live in an age where you can find just about any type of workout you can imagine either outside your front door or online, from yoga to barre to kickboxing to dance classes. Sweating it out on an elliptical for 30 minutes doesn’t sound like a good time to you? Cool — try something different. Moving your body doesn’t have to be painful or a struggle; find something that’s fun for you, and that you genuinely look forward to doing each day. 

4. Exercise first thing in the morning. 

You’ve heard the old adage — the early bird gets the worm. Well, that’s also true with exercise if you’re operating with a jam-packed schedule. Yes, it may mean waking up an hour earlier, but it can help to avoid running into the usual obstacles later in the day. You know — exhaustion, or having an unexpected work meeting at 5 p.m., or the babysitter canceling. It happens. When working out is the first thing you do after opening your eyes each morning, that to-do list starts getting tackled sooner. Plus, you really will feel more energized to handle whatever the day throws at you.

5. Multitask.

I may or may not have been known to take conference calls while out on a long walk with my dog at my previous job. Think about what you have to do during the day and get creative! For instance, need to do research for a work project? Maybe there’s some audio books or podcasts you can listen to while on your run. What can you blend in with your workout?

6. Make the most of your lunch breaks.

Get an hour for lunch? Sneak in a short run or workout class from a nearby fitness studio on your break. Use baby wipes or similar products to help limit any stinkiness afterward if there’s no shower accessible. You could also use the time to take a long walk around your house or office, or get in a few Sun Salutations right there in your cubicle. Seriously — no judgement here.

7. Workout at home.

…A.k.a. when you can roll out of bed and crush a workout without ever having to change out of your pjs. These days the options have expanded beyond the leotards and leg warmers of Jane Fonda’s ‘80s workout tapes. From the Daily Burn’s online videos and southern California-based trainers over at Tone It Up to apps like Kayla Itsine’s “Sweat With Kayla” and the Nike+ Training Club, you can literally get a heart-pumping workout right from the comfort of your very own living room. #convenient

8. Consider efficient, shorter workout options, like HIIT, if you’re really strapped for time.

Your workout doesn’t have to be one hour (or longer!) to be effective. Crossfit and high intensity interval training (HIIT) are examples of shorter workouts that are known for results. You can do these on your own at home or check out a class from a local gym or studio.

9. Sneak movement in throughout the day.

Your workout doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal, structured program. All that matters is that you're moving your body! Go for a walk around the office in between tasks or take the stairs instead of the elevator every day. Walking your dog and chasing your kids also count!

Most importantly, just do it! Commit to making your workout a reality and that dedication will power you through. 


Joelle is a writer, editor, and registered yoga teacher living in southern California with a passion for celebrating the messiness of life through storytelling. She holds a MA in Journalism from New York University and loves a well-written sentence, brunch, and staying active. To read more of her writing, visit her website



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