Setting an intention to exercise more regularly is one thing, but when it comes time to actually commit to a workout, it can feel like you have an endless supply of excuses to skip it. With mounting responsibilities looming over you at work and at home, you may often think there’s simply not enough time in the day to fit a workout in.

Here’s the catch: According to a 2019 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) and the RAND Corp., you already have those hours at your disposal. The researchers looked at U.S. Census Bureau data on how American adults spend their hours on a typical day, setting aside time devoted to essential, non-discretionary activities like sleeping, eating, grooming, working or going to school, cooking, and cleaning — and what’s left is 300 minutes, on average. That clocks out to more than five hours per day. And it turns out we devote very little of this time to working out: 14 minutes a day, on average, for women, and 25 for men. 

When you take a step back from your mindset of perpetual busyness and look at your calendar from a wider lens, chances are you’ll see even more time than you realized you had at your disposal. So how can you make sure it doesn’t fall by the wayside (or couch-side)? Start by practicing your Microstep of booking time on your calendar to work out. The Mayo Clinic recommends treating your workout time just as you would for any other kind of appointment you wouldn’t want to miss. This simple practice can make a big difference in your movement journey, by helping you hold yourself accountable. Just think of it as scheduling a meeting with yourself, and the agenda is your well-being.

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  • Mallory Stratton

    Director of Content Operations at Thrive

    Mallory is Director of Content Operations at Thrive. Prior to Thrive, she was Associate Editor on “It’s All In Your Head” by Keith Blanchard (Wicked Cow Studios, 2017), an illustrated brain science book, and worked closely on its accompanying cross-platform partnerships with Time Inc. and WebMD. She spends her off-hours curating playlists, practicing restorative yoga, and steeping new teas.