Have you promised yourself that 2017 is going to be the year you finally get fit? – the year you manage to get to the gym five days a week, and even make that dreaded 7am spin class every Saturday morning?

Despite the very best of intentions, many people with particularly demanding jobs find that maintaining a regular fitness regime can feel almost impossible – myself included. And that’s understandable – when you’re constantly working long, tiring hours, leaving the office at a sensible hour can feel like a much more pressing priority than making that 7.00pm crossfit class.

However, prioritising exercise can have profound benefits to your physical and mental wellbeing. I know from my own experiences that exercise can help you to relax, manage stress and cope with the demands that a career can bring. So, if you’re struggling to meet your exercise targets, these eight tips will help ensure you always have enough time to make exercise a priority, no matter how busy you are at work:

1. Incorporate exercise into your commute

If you’re lucky enough live near enough to your workplace to walk to work, stop making excuses, set your alarm early and get your stomp on. For those who live further afield, cycling could be the perfect solution. Even if you use a car or public transport, you can still try parking some distance away or get off a couple of stops early in order to get those all-important steps in.

2. Schedule a time to exercise and stick to it

You know from your professional life, that you will always prioritise scheduled meetings or calls. Use the same tactic with your workouts – schedule 30 minutes of activity in your diary and you’ll be surprised how often you’re able to get it done.

3. An early workout can be a winner

For many people, getting up slightly earlier and doing their workout first thing can mean they get it out of the way before the demands of the day really take hold; for other people, the thought of a 5am run is unbearable. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re an early bird, that peaceful hour of me-time early on can be a lifesaver and will get the endorphins into action before the day starts.

4. Stop sitting still

It’s amazing how much more active you can become simply by making a conscious effort not to sit still. From a standing desk or sitting on an exercise ball instead of your chair, through to taking regular breaks from the screen to go for a walk and taking every opportunity offered to get vertical, making sure sitting still is a rarity, will really boost your exercise levels.

5. You don’t have to exercise in the gym

Sometimes, it’s not the actual workout that takes the time; driving to the gym, getting changed, the post-workout shower and the weary drive home can add hours to what should only take half-an-hour or so. If you’re short of time, it’s often much quicker to just go home and put on an exercise DVD or spend some time on the rowing machine or treadmill.

6. Organise a sporting charity event with your colleagues

Participating in a sporting charity event can be hugely motivating. By getting your colleagues involved, you will be even less likely to back out and can even train together during your lunch break or after work (wish me luck for the Hays Tough Mudder challenge 2017).

7. Make social events active events

Is your idea of a good night out after work dinner with friends? If so, it’s time to ring the changes and mix up your social life up with some active pastimes. Instead of a meal out, try five-a-side football, boot camp in the local park/common, take a walk somewhere breath taking, or enrol on an exercise class with friends. There are literally dozens of different fun, sociable activities out there waiting to be explored. How about persuading your friends or colleagues to sign up for a fun run?

8. Walk wherever you can

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise there is, so make sure you’re doing plenty of it.  There are dozens of ways to walk more and sit less during the working day. Here are just a few:

  • Always take the stairs, never the lift
  • Instead of emailing a colleague in the same office, go and see them face-to-face
  • Whilst on a conference call, walk while you talk
  • Send your documents to the printer which is furthest away from your desk
  • Try walking or standing meetings
  • Go for a brisk walk over your lunch break
  • Set yourself a reminder on your computer or Fitbit to remind you to get up and move around every hour

Most of us have a way of monitoring or recording our exercise these days, so keep a note of your daily steps and activities to set yourself a target for the following day. It can be hugely motivating to see your steps go up over time.

So, with so many different options available for fast, effective exercise, no matter how demanding your job may be, there really is no reason why even the busiest person can’t fit in a few minutes of activity a day. It goes without saying that exercise is more than just being physically fit – it’s therapeutic and sharpens your mind so what are you waiting for?

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Michael Jones is the Head of Internal Recruitment and Training for Hays UK&I. He’s worked for the company for 10 years and started his recruitment career at Hays in Australia, joining as a trainee with no previous experience. After four years as a successful Accountancy and Finance recruiter, and winning ‘Best Performing Associate of the Year’, he joined the Training team and transferred to Hays UK&I in 2013. Michael manages a team of sales and systems trainers, supports the National Internal Recruitment team and, over the last six years, he has personally trained thousands of trainee recruiters.