Exercise for Energy: Get More out Of Your Day

Managing stress with exercise can be very doable, even if you're stressed and busy. Mike Kemp/ Getty Images

If you’re like most of us, you may wish you had more time in the day. While I can’t offer you a 25-hour day, I can offer a strategy for increasing your energy so that you can make the most of the time you do have—get regular exercise.

Sound easier said than done? The following tips are designed for stressed and busy people who want to sneak in activity to rev up their energy and get more out of their waking hours.

Walk During Lunch

If you don't have time to go to a gym once a day, you can save time by bringing workout shoes to the office and walking during your lunch break. You likely won't get as sweaty as you would if you were doing more strenuous exercise, and you'll get a good workout without taking much time out of your schedule. 

Track Your Exercise

In that vein, there's a simple and convenient tool for working exercise into your day: a Fitbit pedometer. Carrying a monitor that measures how many steps you take in a day doesn't automatically get you extra exercise, but it helps you track your 'daily step count', and keep your mind on how much you're physically moving, and that alone can be a motivational tool to help you move more.

First, see how much you walk in a day without trying to increase your step count—then see if you can raise the number of steps you take by 500 or 1000.

Aim to get creative and find new ways to work additional steps into your day, including joining challenge groups and expect your cardio output to naturally rise.

Fitness trackers can be used in other ways to promote stress relief—to track sleep and ensure you get a healthy amount, to use social support to help you stay on-target with your goals, and to track your weight, for example—so they are highly recommended! 

Get Some Class or Create a Morning Routine

Find a sport you like, and take a class. If you put it into your schedule, you'll be less likely to skip the workouts. Plus, officially carving out the time helps you prevent pushing exercise off by the wayside. (Think of it like an office meeting you can't skip out on.) Finally, if it's an activity you enjoy, this in itself will feel like a stress reliever--you'll feel that you're doing something for yourself, for your own peace of mind, and that can make a busy day of doing necessary tasks for others more bearable and less stressful, too.

It's a great idea to do yoga in the morning. You can sneak in a good workout and score the serenity and other benefits yoga provides at the same time. Doing yoga before your morning shower can become a part of your routine that doesn’t take up too much additional time—you can even do it in your pajamas.

Studies show that several mini-workouts can be as effective as one big one in terms of cardiovascular and overall health benefits. If you have a full, busy schedule, you may find it much easier to split your workout into smaller chunks.

If your work day is long, breaking up the day with several 10-minute workouts can even wake you up and make you more productive.

Bottom Line

If you’re busy, you may feel you can’t afford to spend time exercising. But the truth is, you really can’t afford not to.

Not only will exercise give you more energy to accomplish things and help you relieve stress, it can improve your overall health in important ways. The important thing to remember about exercise when you’re stressed and busy is to be as efficient with your workouts as possible. You can also create energy by:

  • Getting Quality Sleep
  • Exercising Regularly
  • Cutting Down on Caffeine
  • Developing a "Can Do" Attitude

By Elizabeth Scott, PhD
Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.