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3 Ways to make fitness a priority — even on the busiest days

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With school, sports, and fall schedules filling up, here’s how to work in exercise.

We all know that fitness is a central part of living a happy, healthy life — but when our schedules get packed with work, homework, and after-school sports, it can be tough to fit it in. Nevertheless, it’s important that we don’t let our own physical activity slip by the wayside. Getting your heart rate pumping is the best way to increase your energy and give you the spark you need to keep things running smoothly during the busiest seasons of life, so here are three ways to work it into your daily schedule.

1
Get it done early

I confess that I’m not a morning exercise person. I find it hard to get up and get moving early, and with late evening classes twice a week, those hours of sleep are too precious to skip. However, I know from experience that the times when I was working out before the kids got up were the most productive and structured times in our lives. If you can get to bed by 9, getting up at 5 for a run, bike ride, or garage date with your weights is a phenomenal way to start your day out on a high note — and give you a boost of energy to sustain you through your busiest days.

2
Put it on your calendar

If early mornings don’t work for you (or even if they do!), one way to make sure your workout doesn’t get pushed right off the back burner is to schedule it in. Make it a priority and give it the same level of commitment you give to your other priorities by blocking that time off and sticking to your schedule. Most importantly — do not, for one second, feel guilty about making this time a priority. It’s not selfish to give your body and brain the movement nutrition they need to perform at optimal levels. Plus, you simply can’t pour yourself into work and family if you’re running on empty. Think of exercise like you think of food — you need good fuel to get you through life, both in the kitchen and in the gym.

3
If all else fails, sneak it in

I know there are going to be days when you just can’t get that time — no matter how early you get up or how firmly you’ve scheduled it. Sometimes life just happens. On these days, try and find ways to sneak in some extra movement. I know you’ve heard about parking far away and taking the stairs, but those are the most basic ways to get some extra movement in. Get more creative than that! Park on the street across from your house instead of pulling in your driveway to unload those groceries. Carrying those heavy bags is a great way to get your blood flowing and engage your core and back muscles after a day of sitting. If you’re really brave, you could even bear crawl down the hall to the water cooler instead of walking (not saying I’ve done this … but I totally have!). Or do air squats while you brush your teeth, and try sitting on the floor of your office to work instead of a chair … any way that you can find to engage your muscles and get your heart rate up a little will help wake up your body and brain.

When it comes to making fitness a priority, the most important part is your mindset. Seek out ways to move instead of ways to avoid movement, and you’ll find that you can create mini-workouts in even the most unusual environments. And don’t pay attention if passers-by gape at you … moving your body as much as possible is a serious and responsible thing to do.

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