How many times have you heard yourself say, “I don’t have enough time to exercise”?

There’s always something else that just has to be done first. I get it. I have a seven month old at home requiring my constant watchful eye. If it’s not kids, then it’s work obligations, meal prep, or sleep that comes first. If exercise does not become a part of your daily or at least weekly routine now, there can be serious negative consequences.

Why do you need to put exercise first? Because your health matters. If you are sick, you miss days in the office and have difficulty caring for your kids, pets or whoever is counting on you. “People who exercise regularly are less likely to get a cold, researchers say. A study of 1,000 people found that staying active nearly halved the odds of catching cold viruses and, failing that, made the infection less severe.”

Studies also show that exercise reduces the risk of early death, helps control weight and lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, some types of cancer, cognitive decline and hip fractures. It can help improve sleep, memory, concentration and mood.

I could go on about why to put yourself first and start exercising regularly today, but you likely already know what you should do. The roadblock for most people is making time for exercise. It’s certainly not easy, but it is possible.

Start with what you can realistically do now, and then work your way up to the recommended weekly quota set by the American Heart Association. Some exercise is better than nothing!

How little exercise can I get away with? A 4-minute workout may be enough to ward off some of the negative consequences listed above.This NY times article describes a “4-minute workout” which includes rest breaks of 3 minutes between each short burst of very high intensity exercise with total time spent exercising equaling 16 minutes. This does not include the necessary warm up and cool down time required for injury prevention. The strenuous nature of this specific exercise routine may only be a good choice for a very small population, but it does show us that even short duration exercise is beneficial for our health.

Working exercise into your daily routine can be the easiest way to get you started and it will in turn contribute to positive lifestyle changes. Figure out which ideas work for you and set an achievable goal. Put a reminder in your phone or on your calendar and make it a recurring event to help yourself stay on track.

Take a brisk walk on your lunch break. Go to bed early and wake up 1/2 hour early (or more), to work out!If you like to stay up late- eat a light dinner and work out after!Involve your kids, to make it a part of family time (or just to fit it in)

Make it part of your social time:play tennis with a friend, head out for a jog together, or go to a pilates class to meet new people, …etc

Make it a part of your commute – bike to work!

Work small bursts of increased activity into your daily life by… parking further away taking the stairs!getting up and moving between bouts of sitting at your desk -Household chores or yard work are exercise too- shovel your snow instead of hiring someone to plow, vacuum and mop until your floors shine…

– Stretch while you wait for your morning coffee to brew, watching TV or waiting in line

Remember to work your way up to more time and physically demanding exercise to get the greatest benefits. If you do not have access to a gym, or can not afford to buy or store a bunch of gym equipment, you are not alone. There are plenty of online resources or DVDs with quick, simple workout routines. You do not need any special equipment to perform bodyweight exercises, strengthen your abdominals, or get your heart pumping.

If you are looking for inexpensive ways to add challenges for inside your home:
– use your stairs
– have a jump rope on hand?
– get a set of dumbbells and/ or exercise bands If you are having trouble coming up with an effective workout routine or are fearful of injuries occurring, set up an appointment with your local physical therapist to help you get started!