Let’s face it…everyone is busy. We all have emails to answer, texts to reply to, Netflix shows to catch up on, and step-count goals to hit. We often find ourselves wondering how on earth we can accomplish our personal, career, and fitness goals. I believe we can do it all with a little habit stacking, which inspired my busy girl treadmill routine. As a NASM-certified personal trainer, I’m not only a fan of implementing habit stacking into my everyday routine, but I depend on it. Habit stacking is a simple way to get more done by multitasking, such as wearing a face mask while working at home or taking a walk outside while meditating. During my busiest days when I don’t want my fitness to go by the wayside, I also habit-stack my workout and to-do list. Enter: my busy girl treadmill routine.
The Busy Girl Treadmill Routine
You may think you need to dedicate time purely to working out, which is why it’s probably the first thing to go on your busiest days. But in order to reap health benefits, you don’t need to sprint, run, or even jog—and you don’t even need to stop working. On my busiest days, I follow a specific treadmill routine that provides amazing health benefits while I’m still on calls or answering emails.
Low-intensity steady state (LISS) cardio is sustained low-intensity cardio; you’re moving without getting short of breath, meaning it just so happens to be a beneficial type of exercise you can do while also in a meeting, answering emails on your phone, or watching the latest season of Selling Sunset (because that can be on your to-do list too). The perfect recipe I’ve found that provides a high-quality workout and still allows you to multitask is setting the treadmill to 3.0 mph speed at a 3.5 incline, and walking for at least 30 minutes (The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise three to five days a week). Feel free to adjust whatever works best for you, but I have found that 3.0 mph still feels safe to walk at while looking at my phone or computer, and 3.5 incline is enough to get a little glute work in (more on that below) without leaving me too out of breath that I couldn’t talk on the phone or take a meeting.
I repeat: You don’t need to do high-intensity cardio or interval training in order to get major health benefits. According to Everyday Health, LISS cardio can help improve muscle strength, heart health, mental health, cognitive function, and sleep. One 2015 study compared the effects of an interval-style high-intensity workout regimen with those of a steady-state exercise regimen and found that both yielded similar aerobic and anaerobic benefits. In other words, yes, walking is an incredibly effective workout. The 3.5 incline provides more benefits: Incline walking targets muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. You’ll also engage your core for balance and stability. Over time, this can lead to improved muscle tone and endurance, enhancing your overall physical fitness.
But since this is a treadmill routine for the busy girl, you should know that getting in some movement while you’re on calls or getting work done instead of sitting at your desk can majorly impact the quality of your work too (and help you get more done in less time). Research shows that exercise can increase creativity and focus. Getting moving can optimize your brain to improve attention and motivation, and it can also encourage nerve cells to bind together, which is the cellular basis for logging new information, meaning you may actually retain info better and learn new things easier with exercise (remember that if you’re studying for exams!). This makes my busy girl treadmill routine not only a health hack but a productivity hack. Lastly, exercise can also reduce stress, which you probably need the most–especially on your busiest days.
So next time you’re tempted to skip a workout when your schedule is packed and your to-do list is long, take your phone (and full inbox) to the gym or use an under-the-desk walking pad to habit stack exercise with work.