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9 Easy ways to fit exercise into a busy schedule

Making time for exercise can be challenging when you have a packed everyday routine. Here are some tips to help you squeeze a workout into your busy week!

For a lot of people, a hectic everyday routine means that exercise just doesn’t make the cut as a priority. So how do you fit exercise into a busy schedule?

We asked three super sporty digital creators, athletes and parents for some of their tips for balancing exercise with a jam-packed schedule.

Dr. Åsa Lundström is a Swedish doctor and triathlete with several Ironman wins under her belt. Japke Janneke comes from the Netherlands and has a blog all about balancing her sporty life with work and motherhood. Chloé Penderie is a French blogger and lover of all things sporty and outdoorsy.

Here are their tips to help you start working out, matter how packed your calendar is!

How to fit exercise into a busy schedule:

  1. Plan your week in advance
  2. Head straight to your workout after work
  3. Pack your gym bag essentials the night before
  4. Choose a bag that can handle a day at the office and your workout routine
  5. Eat to fuel your body
  6. Take advantage of commuting
  7. Do exercises or stretches around the house
  8. Work out smart
  9. Bring your kids along

#1 Plan your week in advance

My advice is to always plan your week well in advance. I always do this on Sunday evenings. Then, I note down in my diary which days I have exercised. I believe that everyone has time to exercise, but only if you really make it a priority.
- Japke Janneke

Dr. Åsa Lundström has similar advice, “As unsexy at it may sound – planning is key! With family and full-time job, you don’t get time for training – you have to make time”.

Making sure that working out becomes intertwined with your everyday routine is one of the best ways to start exercising on a regular basis.

Chloé Penderie finds it useful to plan her workouts according to the weather, and write down exercises in her weekly planner. Check out her adorable printable planners that can help you plan your weeks. Few things feel better than putting a checkmark next to that planned workout session!

“In any case, my most valuable advice is to be kind to yourself,” Chloé adds, “If you can't find time for your workout, that's okay! A day is only 24 hours and can sometimes be full of unforeseen events. So don't be disappointed in yourself if you have to replan.”

Japke Janneke going for a run in the dutch countryside.

#2 Head straight to your workout after work

Don’t get stuck in the ‘home trap’. Go straight from work to training to avoid the risk of not going out once you come home.
- Dr. Åsa Lundström

Heading straight to the gym after work is the best way to make sure you actually exercise. We all know what it feels like when you head home after a long day, sit on the sofa, and really don’t want to get back up again – let alone do exercise!

Åsa’s personal favorite time to squeeze in a workout in the morning. It can take a while to get used to, but it helps you start the day off with a ton of energy. It also helps to exercise before you’re exhausted at the end of the day.

#3 Pack your gym bag essentials the night before

Packing your work bag and workout essentials the night before will not only take away another stressful moment in the morning, but also act as a motivation. When everything's already packed, there's no excuse not to hit the gym after work.
A tpu-compartment in the Thule Aion duffel bag is perfect for sneakers.

#4 Choose a bag that can handle the office and your workout

Some backpacks, duffels and briefcases are specifically designed to hold all the items you need for a day at the office, and everything you need for a successful workout. When everything has its set place, it’s easier to exercise straight after work.

What is the best backpack for the gym and work?

There are some features that you need to take into consideration before choosing a backpack for work and the gym. Things like the backpack size, organizational features, and the material are all important.

The best size for a backpack for work and the gym

The right sized bag can really make all the difference when looking for the best backpack for the gym and for work.

What can you fit in a 25-liter backpack?

  • A laptop
  • A pair of sneakers
  • Gym clothes: T-shirt and shorts
  • Phone, charger, wallet, keys, earbuds
  • Snack (banana, protein bar)
  • Water bottle

What can you fit in a 30-liter backpack?

  • A laptop
  • A pair of sneakers
  • Small towel
  • Phone, charger, wallet, keys, earbuds
  • Gym clothes: T-shirt, shorts, change of clothes
  • Snack (banana, protein bar)
  • Water bottle
  • Underwear & socks

What can you fit in a 40-liter backpack?

  • A laptop
  • A pair of sneakers
  • Regular sized towel
  • Lunchbox
  • Personal care products (deodorant, conditioner, shower gel)
  • Gym clothes: T-shirt, shorts, and change of clothes
  • Underwear & socks
  • Phone, charger, wallet, keys, headphones
  • Snack (banana, protein bar)
  • Water bottle

Useful backpack compartments

Shoe compartment in a thule backpack is perfect for a workout day.

A shoe compartment

Dirty shoes are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, so a shoe compartment helps separate them from the rest of your belongings. Usually, they’re made of a material that is easy to wipe clean.
A tpu compartment in the Thule Aion duffel is perfect for storing shoes.

TPU-lined compartment

TPU is a nifty material that locks in moisture, dirt, and odor and separates it from the rest of the bag. It’s a great compartment to keep sweaty or dirty workout gear and is easy to wipe clear afterwards.
A bike helmet compartment in a Thule bike commuter backpack.

A bike helmet compartment

If you try to fit in extra exercise by biking to and from work, you’ll appreciate a helmet compartment so you have somewhere to stash your helmet once you’re in the office.

#5 Eat to fuel your body

If you’re making time for exercise on a busy day, you’ll need sufficient food and nutrients to have the energy for an effective workout. So, which foods are a good source of energy?

My favorite little dish that I like to adapt with the season is porridge or smoothie bowls. The bases are the same (either cooked oatmeal or a smoothie) and you can add all sorts of toppings! Seasonal fruits, nuts, seeds, oilseed purees, muesli or chocolate.
- Chloé Penderie
As a snack, Japke Janneke enjoys eating dates with peanut butter and for breakfast, a big bowl of cottage cheese with fresh fruit is also a must. Throughout the day, Åsa will usually snack on Greek yogurt, honey, berries, or nuts.

#6 Take advantage of commuting to work

A woman running with the Thule Chariot bike trailer down an empty city street.

Dr. Åsa Lundström recommends using your daily commute as a way to get in some extra exercise, whether that means biking or running to work.

Why not make your daily commute part of your weekly exercise by jogging or biking to work? Or you could jog or bike when dropping your kids off at kindergarten.

If your commute is very far, bike or jog one way and take public transport home. This is great because, when you get home after a long day, you have already finished your exercise.

#7 Do exercises or stretches around the house

Even if you don’t head to the gym or for a run, there are lots of exercises you can do at home. Chloé Penderie is a big yoga fan, which you can do virtually anywhere with a good video. On her YouTube channel, Chloé shares yoga tutorials you can easily follow along at home.

“Even if I don't always manage to take the time to do a yoga session on a mat,” Chloé says, “I stretch several times in my daily life from morning to evening...in bed, while cooking, while working, on the couch etc”.

Even if you don’t have time to workout, doing stretches can do wonders after sitting down all day and getting tight muscles as a result. According to an article from Harvard Health, stretching is vital for keeping your muscles strong and improving your range of motion.

#8 Workout smart

If you’re struggling with how to fit exercise into a busy schedule, it might be because you’ve set the bar too high. Be realistic. Longer workouts aren’t always more effective. In fact, it could be the opposite.
A woman gets ready for a run and puts her shoes into a Thule backpack.

Start small

If making time for exercise is difficult, remember that even a short workout is better than nothing. If all you can do is 10 minutes three days a week, start there! According to research from The University of British Columbia from 2018, performing high-intensity training in just 10 minutes three times a week resulted in improved health benefits.

Åsa explains her technique for people who want to get started but really don’t know where to begin.

Do whatevery activity is easiest for you and start with activity + rest. For example, if you’re running, start with a 1-min run, and then a 1 min walk. Do this for a total of 20 min. After a week or two, try 2-min runs followed by 1 min walks for 20-30min.
- Dr. Åsa Lundström

For beginners, Japke Janneke recommends walking and cycling and as good, low-intensity exercises to help you get started.

Chloé Penderie suggests the same, “Walking, hiking, trail running and running are sports that require little equipment! And the icing on the cake is that it allows you to see the countryside, discover places off the beaten track, reconnect with nature, and feel better mentally as well as physically.”

Prioritize recovery

Remember to stretch after the workout, even if it’s a short session. Stretching helps loosen the muscles so you’re less tight the next day. Stretching improves your flexibility, strength and reduces the risk of injury. The stronger you are, the easier your workout will become – and you’ll slowly start to look forward to them more.

#9 Bring your kids!

Making time for exercise is even more difficult if you’re also taking care of young kids. But Åsa, Chloé and Japke all recommend the same thing: bring your kids along!
Dr. Åsa Lundström goes for a run with her child in a Thule jogging stroller.
Bring your kids! Run with your kids in the stroller, do functional strength training using your child as a weight. Get changed before your baby is napping by using a baby monitor, and get ready to start as soon as your baby falls asleep.
- Dr. Åsa Lundström

Chloé agrees, as a new mother she goes cross-country skiing, hiking and running with her partner and baby with the help of a child bike trailer bike trailer. Her son at the age of 1 had already joined on many hikes to the Pyrenees!

Of course, your child doesn’t have to be a seasoned hiker to follow you on your workouts. A bike trailer or jogging stroller is an easy way to make sure they can join on every sporty outing.

Hopefully, these tips have helped give you some ideas on how to fit exercise into a busy schedule. Making commitments can be difficult, but the important thing is to find something that works for you. Start small and build from there. After time, you’ll be more energized and motivated to continue!

Thule ambassadors in this article:

A close-up of Swedish triathlete Dr Åsa Lundström.

Dr. Åsa Lundström is a Swedish triathlete and doctor, who has several Ironman wins under her belt, and has placed top 10 in several world and national championships. She recently became a mother, which adds the extra challenge of balancing sport and parenthood. Find out more on her website.

A close-up of Chloé Gattison, a french blogger and digital creator.

Chloé Penderie is a French blogger and digital creator who writes about her outdoor adventures in the Pyrenees, her home renovations and more recently, her life as a mother. Read her blog or follow her Instagram.

A close-up of Japke Janneke, a dutch content creator and blogger with an active life.

Japke Janneke is a Dutch content creator and mother to her young son, Len. On her blog and Instagram account she gives audiences a look into her sporty life, and tips on how to combine an active life with motherhood.


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