How to fit in exercise and writing (when you don’t have time for either)
One thing I’ve noticed this summer is I either workout in a day or write, but usually not the two together. Part of it is because I tend to use the same time (after work, before dinner) for both. This means I have to get creative to fit in as much of each as possible.
Here are some ideas I’ve come up with (and have worked for me).
Read while working out (biking on a stationary bike works really well for this). You can read new books, read through your work in progress and make notes for later editing, or read books about the craft of writing. The neuroscience-y bonus to this is you tend to remember more of what you read while exercising (hint: use this to your advantage if you have to study for a test).
Do a circuit during writing breaks (especially if using the Pomodoro writing method). The Pomodoro method means working for a certain amount of time (usually 25 minutes) and then taking a break (5 or 10 minutes) and then writing for a set time again. Thus, writing can be your break from working out and visa versa.
Do a couch workout while watching TV or a TV “drinking” workout game. (Alternatively you could just not watch TV and workout instead, but if you don’t want to do something so radical, do this). Many popular shows have workout games, like drinking games. For example, when Character A says X, do 5 pushups, when Character B is mentioned, do 10 burpees. If you can’t find one online, make your own. Check out an example of a couch workout and workout game at the bottom of this page.
Switch off days between writing and working out. Ultimately, there may not be time for you to do both every day, which is okay. Just switch off if that’s what you need to do.
But, make sure to take classes or schedule in your workouts and writing time. Part of why writing time and exercise time slip away is because it isn’t scheduled in and it gets replaced by other things that aren’t always as important.
Take the stairs. Do calf raises at your desk and bicep curls when you bring the milk up from the car. Basically, fit in exercise when you can. Get creative with it. (For inspiration, look at this video of a workout while baking.)
Do HIIT or Barre or something that combines cardio with strength to maximize your time. As a bonus, they tend to be more fun than regular strength training or mindless treadmill running.
Write on lunch breaks so you have more time to workout after work. I know this isn’t always possible, but it can be great if you’re eating at your desk anyway. Also, going in slightly early to work (or staying slightly later) and having a quiet, designated space to write for a bit can be a productive use of time.
Make sure your workout matches your goals (staying active vs gaining muscle) and that its fun! For example, if you want to gain muscle, don’t have your workout be only running, or you won’t be using your time effectively.
Listen to a writing podcast/audiobook while you workout. Or think about your work in progress so you are in the head space to write after your workout (or at least won’t spend writing time not knowing what to write).
Work on your social media platform while working out so you don’t have to later (and have no excuse to be on your phone later).
Combine relaxation and working out. For example, do yoga/stretching or a hot tub workout. This is great as a recovery day, too. (Because, fun fact, you shouldn’t be using the same muscle groups every day. Getting stronger means not only breaking down the muscle fiber but also allowing it time to grow back stronger). I included an example of a workout you can do in the hot tub below if that’s something you want to pursue.
Ultimately, finding time to workout is hard. Finding time to workout is hard. So don’t be hard on yourself if it’s something you struggle with. Just do your best and try to have fun 🙂
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A couch workout:
A workout “drinking game”:
Hot tub workout: