How to Exercise When Working 40+ Hours a Week


How should you stay healthy while working full-time? Losing weight or just keeping in decent shape can seem impossible when you’re working so much that you don’t have time to exercise.

To accommodate exercising while working long hours, you have to carve out a small amount of time each week and prioritize your fitness, often at the expense of more relaxing things like watching TV

You’ll also need to look for ways to accumulate small victories, like turning down a piece of cake at the office, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

It can be really hard, and sometimes the compromises you have to make (like skipping your nightly Netflix binge, or waking up super early to exercise) can suck.

But getting your physical health in order is very rewarding, it makes you feel great, and in the end, it’s not impossible , just difficult.

Let’s dig a little deeper and check out my top 11 proven tips for getting fit and losing weight while working full-time.

1. Examine your routine relentlessly

Let’s be real here.

You can have a great workout in 15 minutes.

Heck, if you’re really pressed for time, you can do some great calorie-burning conditioning work in 7 minutes! In your own living room, no less.

Can you really not carve out 7-15 minutes a few times a week? Or would you rather be doing something else?

Almost everyone I know who works long hours and is usually very busy takes some time for himself sometime during the week, whether it’s watching an hour of TV in the evening, playing a quick video game here or there, or Playing with the phone while drinking coffee in the morning.

If you work 40, 50 or 60 hours a week and want to find time to exercise, you may have to sacrifice some of those leisure activities.

I know, it can be bad! I said so from the beginning!

But unfortunately, you can’t create more time, you can only choose how you spend it.

A few ideas to get you started:

  • Wake up 30 minutes early for a quick at-home workout
  • Cut evening TV time in half and exercise instead
  • Swap video games for living room HIIT workouts 3 times a week
  • Skip the frat in the lounge and go for a walk on your lunch break, and instead a few times a week
  • Exercising at work (if feasible) – even just doing a few push-ups between client calls can help

You don’t have to cut out all the relaxing and fun stuff in your life, but if you really make your schedule and check where you spend your time, I guarantee you’ll find 3 15-minute blocks to make you sweat dripping.

At least it’s a good starting point.

2. Get enough sleep

The two easiest places to find extra exercise time are:

late night after getting off work

morning before work

These are great options!

Morning exercise is a great way to start your day and feel more energized than any cup of coffee.

Ending the day on a high note with sweat can take away any stress you might still be feeling from work.

Just, whatever you do, make sure you get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Trying to stay in shape or lose weight without getting the right amount and quality of sleep can be an impossibly uphill battle.

Plus, when you’re tired and feeling like crap all day, finding the motivation to exercise becomes harder than it is now.

Some general tips for more and better sleep:

  • Read a book before bed instead of watching TV or phone screens
  • Get some heavy-duty blackout curtains for your bedroom
  • Try natural sleep remedies, such as melatonin, if needed

3. Cut back on caffeine and drink more water

Speaking of feeling tired all day…

There’s nothing wrong with a cup or two of coffee in the morning, and maybe a small cup of coffee in the afternoon to pick me up.

But drinking glass after glass throughout the day may not help as much as you think.

I can tell you from personal experience that staying more hydrated by drinking water will help your energy levels more than caffeine, beyond a certain point, since dehydration is a major cause of fatigue.

Too much caffeine can actually make you sleep worse at night, which only compounds the problem.

Plus, if you load up your coffee with creamer, milk, and sugar, dialing back can be a super easy way to cut calories from your daily consumption.

(You can also learn how to drink black coffee in the morning.

Some ideas you can bring to the office:

  • Keep a large jug on the table and sip all-day
  • Swap your afternoon coffee for a soda like La Croix (this is my favorite zero-calorie afternoon pick-me-up)
  • Drink water instead of iced tea or Diet Coke with meals, and save these for special treats

4. Find a workout you enjoy

If you’re terrified of exercising, finding time to exercise can feel impossible.

So try a few different activities until you find one that feels good to you.

The key is I love lifting weights. I love competing against my previous week or month self and constantly striving to beat my own personal records.

My wife works 50-60 hours a week as a consultant and loves yoga. She moves the world to make sure she gets a few yoga classes a week, whether it’s getting there after a day at the office or waking up at 5 a.m. to practice.

Here are some ideas to find your perfect workout fit:

  • Your first class is usually free at places like Orangetheory, Cyclebar, Flywheel, and Burn Boot Camp. Try them all.
  • Try exercising at home. Try some different styles of free workout videos, or join  Beachbody on Demand and access a huge library of different programs.
  • Try beginner weightlifting for a week, even if you don’t like the idea of ​​bulky muscles. You might be surprised how good it feels!

5. Ask for help

If making space in your life for proper nutrition and exercise is important to you, let the people in your life know!

They can help keep you accountable and often help hold the fort as you take care of yourself a few times a week.

some thoughts:

  • Ask your partner if they can handle dinner while you take an exercise class after getting off work
  • See if grandma can pick up the kids from school once a week so you have time for the gym
  • Ask your boss if you can block your calendar at lunch most days of the week to make time for a walk or a short workout

People want to help you, so let them do it!

6. If you have to choose, choose the strength

Let’s talk about how to get the most out of your workouts.

In my opinion, you’ll see the most positive improvements to your body with workouts that have a strength component.

This could mean:

  • weightlifting
  • Do Bodyweight and HIIT-Style Workouts
  • yoga
  • and more

So if you have limited time and can only do short workouts a few times a week, you’re likely to get the best results from strengthening and toning your muscles.

This often motivates you to keep working hard and keep making more time for fitness. Long live!

I have nothing against pure calorie-burning exercises, cardio and conditioning are great, but it’s hard to replace the amazing benefits you’ll see when you start looking and feeling stronger.

7. Move more

You know the basic weight loss formula, right?

This is calories in versus calories out.

When you burn more energy than you expend, you lose weight (mainly fat).

(There’s more stuff like not starving yourself, eating nutritious and satisfying food, and learning to create a healthier, sustainable lifestyle without constantly “dieting,” but you get the idea.

It doesn’t matter how you create your calorie deficit.

So one of the best things you can do is try to get more exercise and actively combat a sedentary office life — even if it means exercising at work.

Here are some basic ideas that will really add up if you execute them all consistently:

  • Take 10,000 steps per day. It’s a bit random and not easy to track accurately, but it’s doable if you pay attention to it.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Cliché, I know! But you’d be surprised how few people are willing to do that.
  • Park your car further away from your office and other destinations. Ditto.
  • Stand as much as possible. Did you know that standing for an hour burns about 50 more calories than sitting?

These little activities won’t tear you apart or even have a huge impact on your fitness or performance, but they can make you healthier and when paired with proper meal planning, they can actually help you lose weight.

8. Take back your lunch break

If possible, try to block your lunch break from your work calendar and keep it to yourself.

It’s great if you have time for a nutritious lunch, a packed walk around the block, or a quick trip to the gym, but even if all you can do on your break is sit down and eat, it’s still better than eating lunch at your desk better.

Did you know that researchers have found that eating while standing makes you less aware of what you’re eating, making it much less enjoyable?

Something similar happens when you eat at your desk and lose focus entirely, instead focusing on your work tasks.

You’ll enjoy your lunch even more if you take the time to focus on enjoying it.

If you enjoy your lunch more, you’ll likely feel fuller and less likely to snack or overindulge later.

9. Plan your meals in advance

It’s easy to fall back on eating out when you haven’t planned ahead for lunch at work (or dinner at night).

Eating out is delicious and fun, but it can often be unhealthy.

Plus, as anyone who works in a corporate office knows, you’ll often be pulled into lunch meetings and impromptu catering work meetings where you won’t have a lot of options.

So, whenever possible, try to plan several healthy lunches for the week.

Here are some ideas:

  • Make an extra healthy, balanced dinner (lots of lean protein and some whole grains and vegetables) and pack them into lunch.
  • Stock the freezer with low-calorie frozen foods. Fresh food is better, but these are great and very healthy in a pinch.
  • Find some lower-calorie or healthier options near work and recommend them to co-workers.

10. Have a plan for the temptation at work and aim for small wins

I know what an office is like.

There is a birthday cake in the conference room. Someone brought brownies. Everyone is out drinking and having fun.

There is a snack box full of chips. Everyone is drinking Diet Coke and coffee non-stop.

You have temptations everywhere, and things can quickly get out of hand if you don’t choose your eating choices deliberately.

Avoiding all of these things completely is unrealistic, and almost impossible. After all, no one wants to be the person who never eats cake at a birthday celebration.

But pick a few positions to draw a tough line and try to rack up some small wins.

Here are some examples :

  • Find your signature low-calorie cocktail like a gin and tonic instead of heavy beer during happy hour
  • Some indulgence on a budget. Pack a healthy, low-calorie lunch so you don’t feel bad about snacking or dessert.
  • Limit yourself to one happy hour per week. If a second invitation pops up, use this time to exercise.
  • Grab from the often-overlooked fruit bowl instead of the potato chip basket (at least most of the time).
  • Try moving your after-get off-work drinking party to a healthy spot for lunch, or chatting over coffee.

These are just examples.

You don’t need to deprive yourself of all the fun and treats, but if it’s important to you, you may have to make some tough choices from time to time.

11. Exercise is about feeling great, don’t wait until you feel great to exercise

Finally, and most importantly, don’t fall back into the mindset that you’ll start exercising when you feel up to it.

If you wait, it will never happen.

You will feel better because you exercised. The opposite is not true.

Breaking up a sweat after a strenuous workout kills stress, releases happy endorphins in your brain, and gives you more energy to live your best life.

I know it’s really hard to get used to it on a regular basis, but once you get into the habit, it gets easier (not harder) because of how good it feels.


Getting fit or losing weight isn’t easy when you’re working full-time (40 or more hours a week in many cases).

The most important thing you can do is prioritize exercise and make some good nutritional choices each week.

You have to make sacrifices and compromises, whether it’s skipping the 3rd birthday cake for a week or cutting down on Netflix to work out in the evening.

But it doesn’t take much time to get started, just 15 minutes or so a few times a week.

I only do three 45-minute gym workouts a week during my lunch break! As things went on, I became more and more protective of that time, and I learned to love it more and more.

Did these tips help? What did I miss? How do you stay fit and healthy if you work long hours?

Tell me in the comments!

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