The Best Workout Ideas for Long Work Days

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If you regularly work long days, have a big project that you’re working on, or tend to work strange hours, it can be tough to fit exercise into your day. But it’s especially during those times that you need to find time to work out!

The stress relief benefits alone are worth finding a way to fit a workout in, even if it’s a really quick one. Here are some ideas for getting a workout into even the busiest of days.

Maximize Efficiency

Just because you don’t have a lot of time doesn’t mean you can’t get a great workout.

The science behind the 7-minute workout fad is a little questionable, but there’s no debating that it’ll get your muscles working and your heart rate up. The Wahoo Fitness 7-Minute Workout app (iOS, Android, free) is a perfect app to get a quick workout in before work, after work, or any time you have a few minutes.

There are lots of other great bodyweight workout apps out there, too. If you have any suggestions, share them in the comments below!


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The Nike+ Training Club is a more versatile app that includes over 100 workouts that can target specific areas of your body, certain fitness goals, or different fitness levels. One of the categories of workouts, “Get Focused,” contains 15-minute workouts that target specific parts of your body. It’s not hard to commit to 15 minutes!

Download: Nike+ Training Club for iOS (Free) | Android (Free)

Gorilla Workout is another way you can start exercising fast. Lot of the workouts included with the app will take you less than 15 minutes. You’ll progress through a number of stages, working your way up to harder workouts (which will likely take a bit more time). And with different categories, like Interval Insanity, Full Body Burner, Beach Body, and Anterior Agility, you’ll always have something different to try.

Download: Gorilla Workout for iOS (Free) | Android (Free)

There are even apps that are made specifically with office workers in mind:

BlockFit (iOS, Free) gives you 12 exercises that you can complete over the course of the day.

Office Fitness (iOS, $0.99) includes a number of exercises and stretches that you can do right from your office chair if you’d prefer to go that route.

Nano Workout has an entire section of office exercises that you can do without even changing your clothes.


NerdFitness has a lot of great workouts that don’t take much time, including great options like the Beginner Bodyweight Workout and the Angry Birds Workout.

There are plenty of bodyweight workout options that don’t require a gym. You could get in your exercises right when you get home, or even keep some exercise clothes in your office so you can change quickly and get your workout before leaving work.

Find the Best Times for Your Workouts

Hitting the gym or going for a run after work seems like a pretty standard choice for a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you! Depending on your schedule and when you feel energetic and motivated, you may want to plan your workouts for a different time of day.

For example, some people find that working out early in the morning works best — even if you aren’t a morning person, you can still find ways to build up a morning routine so you can get your workout in. It just takes the right tools and some dedication.


Some people find that working out over their lunch break is best. Others find that a late-night gym session right before bed is the only thing that works. Spend some time figuring out when you’re most awake and productive, and work around that.

If you have to, you can even split up your workout into several smaller sessions — ten minutes before your morning shower, five minutes at lunch, ten minutes when you get home from work, and fifteen minutes before bed, for example.

Set Goals and Take on Challenges

There’s nothing like a good challenge to get you motivated to work out, even if you don’t have a whole lot of time. Take stair-climbing, for example, one of the best ways to burn calories at work.

StepJockey (iOS, Android, free) lets you set personal goals and enter challenges based on steps and calories burned. You can even get Smart Signs with QR codes to help you keep track of your stepping and get others at your workplace involved.

30 Day Fitness Challenges (iOS, Android, $4.99) has a number of month-long challenges that you can tackle right from your office after work — spend 30 days working on squats, abs, planks, or a challenge with more variety, like the Beach Body Challenge or the Body Overhaul Challenge.

You can gamify absolutely anything to help stay motivated, if that works for you — I’ve had a great experience in using Habitica to help me stretch more and do more bodyweight exercises, and I highly recommend it.

If you need more than experience points or a challenge from an app, Fitocracy might be for you. After a fitness assessment, you’ll be assigned an online fitness coach who will design workouts specifically for you, as well as a personalized nutrition plan.

By working with your coach on a daily basis, you’ll get the accountability and expert knowledge you need to stay healthy and gain fitness, no matter how much you’re working. You can also use Fitocracy for free to track workouts, earn badges, and monitor your progress.

Optimize Your Schedule

No matter how busy you are, it’s likely that there’s some inefficiency in your day. If you can just be a little more efficient, you could cut 30 or even 60 minutes of work from your day, and have a bit more time to get your exercise in.

Automating the tasks you have to do every day is a great way to save some time — you can use tools like Windows Task Scheduler, ToDoist and IFTTT, and even Photoshop to remove effort from the things you need to do on a daily basis. Don’t underestimate the amount of time you can save even with a simple keyboard shortcut!


One of the most significant places where you can cut time from your day is in emailing. We all have way too much email and not nearly enough time to deal with it. But if you make an effort to be more efficient in how you email, you could save a few minutes each day, and that could add up to hours over a week or two.

Once you’ve cleared out a bit of room on your schedule, make sure to put your workouts in your calendar. Having a time blocked out for exercise is much more likely to motivate you to actually do it than just putting it on a list or keeping it in the back of your mind.

Don’t Give Up


It’s not easy to fit workouts in when you feel like your day is already totally packed full of work and other obligations. And it can be discouraging when you miss one. But sticking with it is the crucial ingredient for success.

Even if you have a bad couple days, or a bad couple weeks, you can always get started again. When you accidentally break the chain, start a new one and keep going! Find some inspiration, set some goals, and get to it.

How do you fit in exercise on a busy day? Do you work out at a specific time, or do you try to split it up into smaller sessions? What stands in your way of exercising when you’re busy? Share your thoughts and best strategies below!

Image Credits: Pushups At His Workplace by Andrey_Popov via Shutterstock, Antonio Guillem via Shutterstock, Maksim Kabakou via Shutterstock.

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