The Busy Girl's Guide to Working Out

If you're ready to make a healthy commitment to your future self, exercise is an absolute must. But when you feel overwhelmed by work, familial obligations, and a thriving social calendar, time at the gym gets put off, and your healthy goals fall by the wayside.

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In the long run, a consistent workout schedule makes you happier, more productive, and less stressed in all aspects of your life, but getting started is overwhelming. Don't put off your healthy life one more day! Learn how even the busiest lady can make fitness part of her life.

Get honest about goals: If you've decided to start exercising with weight-loss goals in mind, you're going to have a more rigorous schedule than a woman who simply wants to maintain her health and de-stress at the gym. With clients who are looking to lose weight, the Biggest Loser Australia trainer Michelle Bridges recommends "six days [of exercise] a week, ideally for 50 to 60 minutes at a time." If you're a busy woman who's looking to reap healthy benefits of consistent exercise beyond the scale, experts say it's all about hitting a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week to decrease your risk for metabolic syndrome — and everyone can carve out two and a half hours over the course of seven days.

Schedule in advance: Even with the best intentions, it's easy to skip workouts, opt for other activities, and wake up on Friday morning to realize you haven't worked out once all week! Treat your workout schedule like you would an important business meeting — it's an event that's set in stone. Spend a few minutes every Sunday night to map out your weeknight schedule for the upcoming days, and write down your workouts in your calendar to help them stick. Make sure there's a healthy balance of fun, work, and exercise to keep your new schedule feeling fresh and doable.

Make it social: If you're concerned about falling off with friends you see regularly, get them involved in your new healthy habits! Plan a new kind of happy hour date with friends, hit up a fitness class with co-workers, or go for a long hike or walk before heading to your favorite restaurant with your beau over the weekend. Whether you're looking for a running buddy or a little healthy competition in a group class, fitness is more fun when you've got friends involved. And it doesn't hurt that you'll be less likely to bail on a workout if you'd be letting someone down.

Be realistic: Don't set yourself up for failure (or injury) by going overboard in the beginning of your journey by overtraining with two-a-day workouts. Going too hard too soon will only make you revert back to old habits and excuses. Even if you feel up to it, stick to the workouts you have set in place that make sense for your body and schedule. As working out becomes ingrained in your schedule and your strength and stamina improve, you can up the ante on the number of days you're working out.

A short workout still counts: There will be times when you have to be flexible; obligations arise, and you have to plan accordingly, but one of our favorite mantras is, "a short workout is better than no workout at all." Even 10 or 20 minutes of exercise can keep you on track and is worth the effort. For days when you're really pressed for time, try out one of these five-minute workouts that will still get your heart rate up and work your body. Time spent working out will only allow you come back to the project at hand with a fresh, clear perspective; trust me, you won't regret it.