How To Keep Exercise a Priority When Life Gets Too Busy

It didn’t sound like a crash, but it didn’t sound normal either. I was painting in our living room when it happened. At first I thought it might have been a truck carrying a large container that hit a bump in the road causing the load to bounce up and down and make a loud noise.

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But, I wasn’t convinced at my own thesis so I went to the window to look. I didn’t see anything wrong until I glanced towards the neighbor’s house and saw what caused the noise. A car with a mangled front was sitting oddly in their front yard. A young woman was getting out.

I hurried outside to ask if she was OK. She was calling her dad, but she nodded that she was fine. I called 911. My wife, Ava, and our neighbor were also there to make sure the driver was OK until the first responders and her dad arrived.

Eventually I headed home to finish painting.

This is how life feels right now. Lots to do occasionally interrupted by something urgent. It’s the busiest I’ve felt in a long time. We are moving soon and the house needs a lot of work before we can sell it. And, I do mean a LOT OF WORK. That’s what happens after 23 years of life with six children and projects that I only completed 90%. The current me is not real happy with the younger me who believed, “Yeah…that’s good enough.”

Additionally, there are big projects at work I’m involved in. Because of the pandemic we added an extra fundraiser, that I’m in charge of, and I’m developing something new and exciting that will be revealed next spring. I also decided to add a podcast to this blog in the midst of everything else going on. Brilliant timing, right?

I don’t handle “busy” well. I feel stress and to get relief I start to de-prioritize things off my calendar. As I look at the tasks on my to-do list I ask myself, “Can I do it another time or do I even need to do it?”

Have you ever felt this way? Life gets so busy that you either intentionally (or unintentionally) stop doing some stuff because you just can’t handle it all. When life heats up, fitness is vulnerable for a lot of people. And, that’s dangerous.

If exercise is a regular part of your life it’s important to remember how long that took to happen. We’re told that habits are created in 30 days. For a few people that may be true, but research indicates it actually takes most of us twice that build a habit. And, for some it could take as long as 254 days.

It doesn’t take nearly as long to lose the habit.

I have a good friend who created a habit of going to the gym to work out. He loved it! He felt great and his appearance reflected his exercise commitment.

But, then he needed shoulder surgery. He didn’t want it because he knew he’d have to stop going to the gym while he recovered. He attempted to push through the pain for awhile, but eventually had the surgery.

That was two years ago. He’s well recovered, but barely goes to the gym anymore. Fitness is a hard habit to develop, easy to break, and potentially even harder to restart. That’s why, for me, exercise is untouchable when life gets super busy. This week I want to share with you the four things I’ve done to make this so. And, these are things you can do if you also want to make fitness “busy-proof.”


There are times when you just have to power through even when you don’t feel like it. This was one of the most valuable lessons I learned during my 20k One Year Step Challenge. If you’re new to this blog, I spent a year walking at least 20,000 steps every day for a full year with no days off.

I made a public commitment to do this with an update on Facebook and Instagram providing my daily step count along with a picture from that day and a clever caption to keep readers eyes from glossing over because of all the numbers.

The foundation of that public commitment was a private commitment to reach 20,000 steps no matter what. I had busy days when I had to creatively find the time to walk. My wife was also diagnosed and treated with breast cancer during the first four months of the challenge. And, there were a bunch of days when I simply DIDN’T FEEL LIKE IT.

That promise to myself to keep moving and reach my goal is what kept me going on those days when it would have been easier not too.


The beauty of fitness is you have a lot of exercise options. Finding one you really enjoy is crucial to creating fitness momentum and even more crucial to keep it going when life feels too busy.

My wife loves running. She ran two half marathons within a few weeks of her cancer surgery. That’s passion We live on a road that is popular for cyclists. Even when the weather makes that exercise more challenging I still see people riding by the house. Wind, heat, cold is not enough to keep them home. That’s passion.

Swimming, yoga, and weight lifting are activities that lots of people love. My friend’s passion for lifting the weights at the gym was so much fun he tried to power through even when it hurt. For me, walking for fitness is the most fun I’ve ever had with exercise

If you find an exercise you really enjoy doing it’ll make it easier to keep going when life heats up. Even if you have to stop for a physical reason like surgery it’ll be easier to restart when you’re able.

But, you may be wondering, what about my friend who did not get back to the gym when he was recovered. If it’s easier to restart fitness when you have an exercise you enjoy what happened there?

Glad you asked.


I have another friend who was trying to find the exercise she really enjoyed so she could create a fitness habit that might eventually lead to fitness momentum. She had two activities she was considering…cycling and kayaking. I’ve done both and they are great fun and great exercise.

They’re also a pain in the butt to set up…especially kayaking. You’ve got to get the kayak on the car, drive to a body of water, take the kayak off the car and into the water. Only then do you get to enjoy the activity. When you’re done you have to do that whole first part in reverse.

Even though cyclists love riding on my street I don’t. It’s a main road with no shoulder and I don’t feel safe. For me cycling is a lot like kayaking. I’ve got to put the bike on the car, drive to where I’m going to ride…and…well, you get the idea.

My friend and her husband did buy bikes and kayaks. They both love the kayaks, but only do it when the weather is nice and they have time to do all the other stuff. He has made cycling his primary exercise and she’s moving in that direction.

All this extra stuff you have to do BEFORE you even can even exercise and then all you have to do AFTER you’re done I call “friction”. The greater the friction, like with kayaking, the less inclined you are to do it. Walking for fitness has almost no friction. I can do it anywhere and at anytime. All I need is a comfortable pair of shoes and I’m good to go.

I don’t know why my weight lifting friend didn’t jump back into it, but I suspect the friction of getting to the gym was part of it. I’ve tried the gym thing several times and it was the friction that eventually did me in each time.

If you have an exercise you enjoy AND has very little friction you have a better chance of sticking with it when life is busy.


This is the busiest I’ve been in a long time. It feels like I’m taking a Masterclass in time and project management. I feel good about the progress we’re making on the house and the other projects that I’m working on.

And, my fitness is not suffering. In fact the opposite is happening. I’m walking more than usual. My step count right now is the highest it’s been all year! And, this is while life is getting even busier.

One of the big challenges with exercise is the benefits always feel like they’re down the road. Fitness is an investment in your future health. That can feel easy is set aside when life gets too busy right now. We tend to set aside the important, but not urgent things when too much is going on.

Some of my additional steps are simply from me moving more as I do these house projects. But, most of them are because I really need the benefits walking gives me right NOW. Walking is an instant stress reducer for me. When life heats up I need to walk more…not less.

Walking also helps me think better and more creatively. During this season of multiple projects I need to have clarity every day regarding my priorities. That happens best when I’m walking. I can see through the fog of busyness and determine which projects need time and attention.

The added creativity helps me think outside the box. For example, that painting I was doing when the accident happened didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. I was painting the bricks around our fireplace. While I thought it would look better it didn’t have the WOW factor I was hoping for. I didn’t know what to do until a creative solution came to me during a walk. Truthfully, the idea was first mentioned by Ava, but I needed that walk to put all the “idea pieces” together. The fireplace now has the WOW factor we wanted.

One more immediate benefit. Ava and I walk together most afternoons. It’s a long one long through our hilly neighborhood. It gets my heart rate up, so it’s exercise, but also gives us quality time. We’re not distracted and our conversations are great. It’s also a break from my to-do list I really look forward too.


Life is busier than it’s been in a long time and exercise remains a vital part of my day. I love walking. I’d do it even if it wasn’t exercise. But, it is! There’s no friction surrounding my walking. And, while I’m investing in my future health, walking is also giving me immediate benefits that make a significant impact today.


If you want to “busy-proof” your fitness, walking is a great option. If you’ve already established an exercise habit that includes walking and you’ve got some momentum I like your chances of keeping your fitness intact when life heats up.

If you don’t have that fitness habit yet, I recommend The 30 Day Fitness Challenge. It’ll help you create an exercise habit that sticks. This 30 Day Challenge can even be started when life feels overwhelming. It’s even designed that way. You can download your free guide right now and get started today.

If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend the Fitbit Inspire HR. While it’s not cheap, it’s less than a few months at the gym. The Inspire HR also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress.


(By the way…if you use the link above to buy a Fitbit Inspire HR this blog will receive a small commission. It won’t add anything to what you pay, but letting you know is the right thing to do)

Lastly, this blog is designed to help you embrace walking as a fitness activity. It’s sustainable, flexible, effective, and fun. Every week I post new articles with stories and helpful suggestions.

If you click FOLLOW (below on your phone…to the right and above on your computer) you’ll receive an email with a link to each new blog post.

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