3 Expert-Approved Strategies for Getting in Shape When You Don’t Have Time


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Written by Guest | Last Updated October 31st, 2019
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woman walking outside exercising Guest Post by Nicholas Rizzo

One commodity that we all do not have enough of is time. It just never seems like there is enough of it in the day. Once you’re done accounting for all the time you have to dedicate to work, errands, chores, friends, and family, there isn’t much time left.

This leaves people asking the same question: how am I supposed to find the time to get in shape and exercise?

I found myself asking this question again and again after having my first child in January. There was this underlying need I felt to get back in shape, lose some weight, and live healthier. I wanted to be the best and healthiest version of myself so I can be there for my daughter.

Due to injuries over the years, I stopped powerlifting. This had been my main form of exercise and biggest passion. With that gone, there wasn't much else that interested me athletically anymore.

For that reason I found myself heavier than I had ever been at the beginning of 2019, weighing in at 208 lbs, and standing at a height of 5 feet 9 inches. With time no longer being a luxury, it was time to find the most effective and time-efficient strategies. I began researching and experimenting with different forms of exercise on a daily basis.

Seven months later, I have lost over 30 pounds and genuinely feel like a new person.

My research pointed me towards these three strategies that have helped me get to this point:

Strategy 1: Fitness snacking

Unfortunately, fitness snacking doesn't combine my two favorite things, eating and working out. Instead, it is bite-sized bursts of physical activity that you can do throughout the day, anywhere, and at any time.

It doesn't matter if you can only get in a 20, 10, 5, or even a 1-minute "snack session." Instead, focus on consistently finding short bursts of time throughout your day.

These are some great exercises you can "snack on" throughout the day:

  • going up and down the stairs
  • taking a brisk walk
  • bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, planks
  • quick yoga breaks
  • kettlebell or dumbbell exercises

Get creative. If you can do it quickly and it gets you moving, then it is a great idea to fit it in.

Fitness snacking becomes incredibly powerful when you integrate it into your workday.

Here's how:

  1. Set an alarm to go off every 30–50 minutes throughout your workday.
  2. When the alarm rings, it is time to take a quick break.
  3. Take care of what you need to first. Whether that is grabbing water, coffee, or using the restroom.
  4. Then, use a couple of minutes to get active. I try to aim for a minimum of five minutes of physical activity for each break.

When you do the math, you start to see why it is so effective.

Let's say you work 8 hours per day. Every 50 minutes you take a break and do just five minutes of exercise. That gives you 40 minutes of exercise per day.

Over a regular 5-day work week, you are getting in 200 minutes of exercise!

On top of that, this process of taking breaks and getting active throughout the day has been shown to increase your productivity, creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, energy, mood, and sense of well-being.

So get to snacking!

Strategy 2: Sprint interval training

Maybe finding time throughout the day isn't your style. But you are still looking for that 80/20 method of exercise. You want something that is quick, straight forward, and gets results.

Sprint interval training (SIT) is the perfect option as it is both effective and efficient.

SIT consists of doing four to eight all-out sprints for 30 seconds. After each sprint, you rest for four minutes so you are fully prepared for your next repetition.

That means you are only actively exercising for two to four minutes and that your workout can be as short as 20 minutes.

You may not expect to get a lot out of just two minutes of exercise, but recent studies say otherwise. A meta-analysis published the other week found that SIT was 40 percent more effective at burning fat than high-intensity interval training.

On average, the volunteers in these studies participated for a little over nine weeks. The meta-analysis measured how much time over those nine weeks volunteers spent working out. The data showed that participants in the HIIT group spent 50 percent more time exercising than those in the SIT group.

This concluded that SIT was almost twice as effective for burning fat and was able to help participants produce results in less than half the time.

Other studies have also shown that doing SIT is good for more than just losing weight. It can also be a great tool for improving athletic performance and improving various health parameters as well.

For those starting SIT, start slow.

You can begin with just doing two workouts a week and doing two sprints per workout. Trust me, this is enough to get started. Let your body tell you when you are ready to add a third sprint to your workouts. Slowly build from there, adding additional sprints every couple of weeks.

Over time, the end goal is to work yourself up until you are able to do three workouts per week of eight sprints per workout.

Strategy 3: Post-meal walks

Sometimes we like to overcomplicate things. We try to find the most cutting-edge solutions to achieving our fitness goals.

In reality, the simple act of taking walks after your meals can make a drastic difference over time.

Walking is already an underrated form of exercise. But when you take them after your meals, studies have shown that it leads to significant increases in metabolism, reductions in blood glucose levels, and curb your appetite.

My favorite part about this is that it is the perfect opportunity to spend more time outdoors, which has its own long list of benefits. Inviting friends, family, or co-workers on the walks with you is great for finding time in our hectic lives to just connect with others as well.

Nicholas Rizzo is the Training Director at RunRepeat.com

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