It’s no secret, we’re all busy.

It’s kind of a fact of life these days. Between children, work, spouses, family, houses, bills, kid activities, church, community activities, responsibilities—the list could go on and on—it’s really hard to find time to exercise. However just because we’re all busy, our workouts don’t have to become non-existent. Our bodies and mindsets get such fantastic physical and mental returns from exercising, it makes it so important that we create healthy living to become a priority.

Here are some helpful ideas to support you crossing “exercise” off your daily to-do list:

Prepare the night before. Set out your workout clothes, shoes, socks, water bottle, and anything else you might need. If you’re going to the gym, make sure there’s gas in the car. Preparation alleviates a lot of potential “reasons” for not working out.

Wear your workout clothes (except to work, of course). I put on my workout clothes first thing in the morning because it not only reminds me to exercise, but on those crazy busy days I’m ready to take advantage of every free minute to do a little something. Even a few minutes here and there throughout the day can add up to some great workout time — run up and down the stairs, do walking lunges, walk instead of drive, throw in a few pushups or burpees, do squats while you’re on the phone, do crunches while you tickle your baby’s toes… get creative!

Don’t get stuck in a groove by doing the same workout over and over again — try something new. Variety results not only in stronger muscles (and more calories burned), but a more enjoyable workout, too!

Plan your day. I recommend a 24-hour planner, especially if you are at stay at home mom or work from home. Truthfully write out how you are spending your free hours. I always say that if you plan your workouts at a time and commit to it just as you would a doctor’s appointment, you will feel guilty if running late or missing it. Have a plan A. And a plan B. And some days you might even need a plan Z. Make a list of workouts so when you’re in a time crunch, you don’t have to think about what to do.

• Be flexible. Constant change is the name of the game. In fact, often the only constant in our life is change. Do the best you can, when you can, and give yourself a pat on the back for doing so.

• Reward yourself. Hey, it works for kids, so why not for us too? Instead of a chore chart, make an exercise chart. You can even use some cute stickers. However, instead of cheezits and hamburgers, choose a healthy reward that benefits your new choices and new goals. Like manicures, new jeans, or even a fun physical activity. Start following online coupon deals. Instead of movies and butter popcorn try snorkeling or rock climbing!

• Include the kids. Jump rope, play ball, run around the block, play hopscotch, teach them your favorite exercises, and have them do the same for you. For infants and toddlers, put them in the stroller and let them become part of your workout, or even extra weight to lift! Be an example of the importance of exercise. You will be staying accountable and setting great examples!

When you make the time to exercise regularly, you’ll be happier—and more productive—in all the areas of your life.

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