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How to Fit in Exercise When You Have No Time

Updated on January 31, 2016

Tired, Overworked, and Stressed? Exercise Can Help

You know you need to exercise for good health. Exercise has a myriad of benefits for physical and mental health, including helping bone density and decreasing diabetes, heart disease, and depression. However, if you live the typical modern life of being overworked and over scheduled, you might find it mentally draining to even think about exercising.

If you are in this boat, and you just need something you can do that you won't have to spend a great deal of money or time doing, here are some ideas to get you going.

Check with your doctor first to see if you're physically fit enough to begin exercising.

Keep It Simple

If you're overwhelmed with daily responsibilities, it can feel overwhelming thinking about beginning an exercise program. Often, when you're too busy, stressed, and tired, the idea of taking an hour a day and exercising through an hour long video or going to the gym for a few hours every day can seem well out of your reach.

The exercise industry has developed all sorts of wonderful, and sometimes expensive products to ensure we can exercise at home. However, sometimes that can work against you, too. If you can't afford $100 for the latest piece of exercise equipment or exercise video or a gym membership, it might make it seem like exercising is well out of your reach.

Many people get overwhelmed with the time requirement for exercise. Even though seven hours of exercising per week has been shown to lower premature death by 40%, many people can't imagine taking an hour a day away from what they already do in order to exercise.

America is not exercising. Only five percent of the American populations puts in some sort of physical activity for any day of the year.

If seven hours a week, or two and a half hours a week seems daunting to you, you can still do five minutes a day. Exercising only five minutes per day has many health benefits as well for your mind, mood, and body. Five minutes is realistic for most people, and it can get you moving in no time.

The second part to keeping it simple is to find something you can do for only five minutes per day. Sometimes, the idea of doing an hour long program with many exercises can seem overwhelming especially to a person with low energy. Keeping the physical activity simple and easy to remember can help lower your feelings of stress.

Keeping it simple allows you to invest very little of your precious resources - time, money, and mental and physical energy - and in return, receive maximum benefit. It turns, "I can't possibly take an hour out to exercise today," to "I can do that!" Five minutes and done.


Any exercise can benefit your in the long run.

Walking and Running

No expensive apps, exercise equipment, treadmills, or anything else are necessary to enjoy the benefits of walking and running. A good pair of sneakers and five minutes is all you really need.

Walking five minutes a day is a great thing for any person, especially if you need to build up your stamina. Here are some ideas for walking for five minutes where you can maximize your results in five minutes:

  • Walk up. If you have stairs or a hill near your work, you can use this to your advantage. You can walk up a flight of stairs, then walk down a flight of stairs. The walk up the flight of stairs, then walk down the flight of stairs. Keep doing this for five minutes. This is easy enough for people to do on a lunch break or even a bathroom break during work.
  • Walk quickly. If you have bad knees, you can speed walk in intervals with slow walking. If speed walking is an Olympic sport, there must be something to it. Walk fast for fifty steps, walk slow for fifty steps. Five minutes, and you're done.

If you really want to make the most out of your five minutes, you can add a jog or run to your routine. Whether you're running/walking a city block or down a dirt country road, you can take five minutes to interval train, which will help you get the most out of your five minutes.

You can modify any of the above routines and add a jog or run. As the Pink Floyd song states, "Run Like Hell" for fifty steps, then walk for fifty steps. You can run up a hill then down a hill for five minutes.

As you advance, you might find that you'll be able to walk up several flights of stairs for five minutes or run for a full five minutes. If you can run for five minutes all out, you might want to add some more time to your routine so you feel challenged. There's not much difference between five minutes and six minutes, right?

I find when I'm feeling overwhelmed, tired, stressed out, and in a low mood, running for fifty steps and walking for fifty steps for five minutes is something I can easily do regardless of how fit I feel that day, and something I can do without stressing out my left knee, which was injured when I fell off of a ladder.


A fast walk for just five minutes a day can boost your health and mood. It's easy to do and easy on the wallet.

Body Weight Exercises

Body weight exercises is the fancier, more modern term for "calisthenics." Yup, you can still get an old-fashioned, challenging workout from push ups, deep knee bends, and jumping jacks. You're using just your own effort and your own body weight to create enough resistance to work out all your major muscle groups in five minutes.

You can do these types of exercises inside. If you work and you're lucky enough to have an office, you can close your door and get them done. You can also find a seldom-used stairwell landing, or even a rooftop in the summer time if you have access without getting locked out. Or, you can do a five minute body weight routine in the comfort of your own home.

What exercises to do? If you're interested in working out your entire body in only five minutes every single day, and you want to make it count, there are many different types of exercised you can do for twenty seconds and with rests in between.

Again, interval training is a great way to get great results from your workouts. You're taking your body and making it work hard for only a few minutes per day.

Here's an exercise routine from West Virginia University:

  • 20 Push-ups
  • 20 Seconds of Plank
  • 20 Bicycle Crunches
  • 20 Triceps Dips
  • 20 Squats

Do as many of these as you can in five minutes. Then you're done. For instance, you might want to begin doing only one round of exercises, doing twenty reps and resting for the rest of the minute before you begin your next exercise.

If you happen to have a few minutes, an internet search turns up many different workouts. Pinterest has different posters you can try for five minute workouts, and there are apps you can use to do a five minute workout.

Everyone Can Find Five Minutes

Whether you work sixteen hours a day or your attention is strung out with ten thousand little tasks you need to complete throughout the day, doing a simple set of exercises that won't take much preparation, time, or money is the stress-busting, health-boosting, mood-lifting remedy everyone needs to fit in throughout their day.

If you watch any amount of television, you certainly do have five minutes to exercise your body. Adding interval training can boost your results and make your five minutes count. Make sure you start at a pace that is comfortable for you, such as ten to twenty second intervals, and build up from there.

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Sum It Up

  • If you have five minutes, you can exercise.
  • Keep it simple so you can alleviate your stress, especially if the thought of overcomplicated exercise routines with expensive equipment overwhelms you.
  • Interval training, which is performing an exercise to the max in short bursts of time and having a short rest period afterwards, can help boost your results.

Exercising doesn't have to be overtaxing. Choose to do something simple every day and stick with it.

Have you used short bursts of exercise to add physical activity to your day? If so, what do you do?

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