Let’s acknowledge it…we are all incredibly busy. Between responding to emails, replying to texts, catching up on Netflix shows, and striving to meet our step-count targets, finding the time to achieve our personal, career, and fitness objectives can seem daunting. However, I believe that through habit stacking, we can manage it all, which has inspired my busy girl treadmill routine. As a certified personal trainer with NASM, I not only endorse the incorporation of habit stacking into my daily schedule, but I rely on it. Habit stacking involves combining tasks to increase efficiency, such as using a face mask while working from home or meditating while taking a walk outside. During my busiest days when I don’t want to neglect my fitness, I combine my workout with my to-do list. Introducing: my busy girl treadmill routine.

The Busy Girl Treadmill Routine

You might think that you need to allocate dedicated time specifically for working out, which is why it’s often the first thing to forgo on hectic days. However, to obtain health benefits, you don’t necessarily need to sprint, run, or even jog—and you can continue working simultaneously. On my busiest days, I follow a distinct treadmill routine that offers fantastic health advantages while I’m on calls or replying to emails.

Low-intensity steady state (LISS) cardio involves maintaining a low-intensity cardio pace where you’re moving without becoming breathless, making it a beneficial exercise type that can be performed while in a meeting, responding to emails on your phone, or watching the latest season of Selling Sunset (because that can be on your to-do list as well). The ideal formula I’ve discovered that delivers a high-quality workout while enabling multitasking is setting the treadmill to a speed of 3.0 mph at a 3.5 incline and walking for at least 30 minutes (The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise three to five days a week). Feel free to adjust based on what suits you best, but I’ve found that walking at 3.0 mph still allows me to browse on my phone or computer comfortably, and a 3.5 incline provides some glute work without leaving me too breathless to hold conversations on the phone or attend a meeting.

The Advantages

It’s worth emphasizing: You don’t have to engage in high-intensity cardio or interval training to reap significant health benefits. According to Everyday Health, LISS cardio can enhance muscle strength, heart health, mental health, cognitive function, and sleep quality. A study from 2015 compared the impacts of a high-intensity interval-style workout regimen with those of a steady-state exercise regimen and found that both delivered similar aerobic and anaerobic advantages. In essence, yes, walking is an incredibly effective form of exercise. The 3.5 incline offers additional benefits: Walking on an incline targets muscle groups like quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. Additionally, it engages your core for balance and stability. Over time, this may lead to improved muscle definition and endurance, enhancing your overall physical fitness.

Given that this is a treadmill routine tailored for busy women, it’s important to note that incorporating some movement while handling calls or work tasks instead of sitting at your desk can significantly boost your work quality (and help you accomplish more in less time). Studies indicate that exercise can enhance creativity and focus. Engaging in physical activity can optimize your brain functions, improving attention and motivation, and promote the formation of nerve cells, which is crucial for retaining new information, meaning that you may enhance information retention and learning efficiency through exercise (a useful tip if you’re preparing for exams!). This transforms my busy girl treadmill routine into not just a health hack but also a productivity hack. Lastly, exercise can reduce stress levels, which is particularly beneficial on your busiest days.

Therefore, the next time you feel tempted to skip a workout when your schedule is jam-packed and your to-do list seems endless, consider taking your phone (and overflowing inbox) to the gym or using an under-the-desk walking pad to seamlessly blend exercise with work tasks.


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