10 fitness time hacks

20 April 2017 by
First published: 19 January 2017

If your workout game is suffering because of a busier than busy schedule, try these 10 fitness time hacks

Juggling between commuting, working, seeing friends and family and doing housework can be hard work, so it’s no surprise that most of us find it harder than a game of Tetris to slot in a gym sesh. However, if you’re savvy and determined enough, finding time to train might be easier than you think – it’s all about finding loopholes.


High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been gaining popularity in the past couple of years for its ability to offer a hard-hitting workout in half the time. ‘HIIT is the most effective training method for burning fat, and can be done in less than 20 minutes,’ explains Lily Soutter, nutritionist and weight loss expert at lilysoutternutrition.com. ‘HIIT involves short bursts of maximal effort with rest periods in between, such as 20 seconds of star jumps followed by 40 seconds of rest. This is repeated for 20 minutes, using any type of exercise.’ You’ll probably need fancy equipment or attend an expensive gym class though, right? Wrong. ‘With no gym required, you can practice HIIT anywhere and you’ll be burning fat for up to 18 hours afterwards.’

Use your feet

‘Rather than jumping in the car to your local shop or work meeting, why not leave that bit earlier and take a stroll?’ asks Carnation Footcare podiatrist (carnationfootcare.co.uk) Dave Wain. Getting fit for the time-conscious is all about being organised and you certainly have to be willing to jump out of bed that bit earlier, but it’s so worth it. ‘It can be a great way to relax and clear your mind too,’ continues Dave.

Get off the bus or train a stop earlier
Commuting offers the perfect chance to rack up some miles – and by getting to work at the same time you’re killing two birds with one stone. ‘There’s no need to exercise in one long chunk – a 10-minute walk to and from work will add up to a good 20 minutes of exercise a day,’ explains Lily. ‘You can track your steps by adding a pedometer app to your phone, which can be an additional motivator.’

Sit and stay healthy with Pilates

You might think the office and exercise don’t go together in one sentence, but Lynne Robinson, author of ‘Pilates for Life’ and founder of Body Control Pilates (bodycontrolpilates.com), thinks otherwise.’To keep yourself feeling fit and healthy, why not set yourself the goal of doing five minutes of Pilates at your desk whenever you get a break?’ she suggests. And before you say you haven’t got time, even the busiest of people can do this one. ‘If you’ve got time for coffee, you’ve got time for Pilates!’ she continues. ‘Even though you are only doing five minutes, you need to focus and do the exercises mindfully, and then try to retain what you’ve learnt with you as you move around the office.’

Save time by cycling

‘Cycling around cities is usually the quickest mode of transport,’ says Lily. But it won’t just shave off the minutes on your ETA; there’s more to riding a bike than you might think. ‘You can save time on your journey while fitting in a workout!’ continues Lily. ‘Cycling is a low-impact exercise, so it’s great for those who struggle with joint pain.’

Recruit a friend 

Seeing friends is often prioritised over exercise – and for good reason. After all, who would want to be slogging it out alone on a treadmill when you could be having a glass of wine with your bestie? Well, you could actually do both (just minus the wine). ‘To help you squeeze in a workout and see your friends, try and combine both,’ suggests Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at superfooduk.com. ‘You could try going for a morning power-walk, giving you the change to burn some calories whilst having a catch up. Or, if you have more time, why not help motivate each other at the gym?’

Housework makes the dream work

If your time at the gym is often sacrificed by boring housework, you may not be missing out quite as much as you think. Chores around the home can in fact be a workout in themselves, with Muscle Food claiming window cleaning can burn around 125 calories an hour! Hovering, ironing and mopping are also on the list of calorie-busting housework.

Skip on your travels

Travel can be one of the biggest set-backs to a well-oiled fitness routine. No equipment to hand, being far away from a gym and flights putting us out of sync, all mean exercise often takes a back seat. ‘With no routine, exercise often falls by the wayside while travelling,’ agrees Lily. ‘One solution is to pack a skipping rope and skip in your hotel room.’ You might think skipping is just a playground activity you enjoyed as a kid, but it actually offers a wealth of benefits. ‘Skipping is a great cardio workout and you only need to do short bursts to gain benefits,’ continues Lily.

Have more sex
Struggling to spend time with your loved one and keep up a fitness routine at the same time? Why not combine them both? Not only does sex burn a lot of calories, it can also help you have better sleep and feel happier. ‘Sex can help to relieve tension and help you go off to sleep faster,’ says Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Women’s Natural Health Expert at marilynglenville.com. Getting a good night’s kip won’t help you keep fit alone, but your energy levels the next day might.

Embrace fidgeting

You might have been told off in the past for constantly fidgeting, tapping your foot or swinging your chair. Well, it might not be a bad thing after all, since a Mayo Clinic study found it can help burn calories, meaning you might be exercising without even realising.