MHLbannersmallWhenever people start to think about starting a new exercise routine or making needed changes to their existing one, the #1 barrier they face is finding the time. With our increasingly busy schedules from both work and family obligations, the easy excuse is to say "I just don't have the time to exercise right now." Well, given the critical importance of exercise to your overall health, it's time to find the time and here are some tips to help make that transition easier:

1. Get up earlier and exercise before work.
If you start your day off with exercise you can never run into the excuse that you got too busy during the day. By scheduling an early workout, you start your day off right while at the same time boosting your energy levels and regulating your appetite for the day ahead! Of course, if you're going to wake up earlier, you need to get to bed earlier, too. Start with a 30 minute earlier change on both ends. As you become more accustomed to the earlier routine, you can increase it to 60 minutes earlier to bed and earlier to rise and give yourself even more time for exercise.

This approach helps make exercise a priority because you are committing to it first thing in the morning. And you can help yourself out by making sure anything you need to do for the next day is done in advance. Do whatever you can – things like packing a lunch, getting clothes ready, prepping your breakfast when possible – the night before. That includes laying out your exercise clothes and any needed gear so when the alarm goes off, you're ready to go.

When you hear the alarm, get up and get moving as quickly as possible. And grab a large glass of water as soon as you can. The water serves a double purpose: It fills you up and helps to fend off any hunger pains from the night before; and it helps re-hydrate you – while sleeping we all dehydrate as we lose water from our system from the respiration (breathing) we do while we sleep.

2. Mix socializing with exercise.
As a basic part of our human nature we like to be around other people and spend time with friends and family. To help jump start everyone's life, the next time you schedule a family get together or some time with friends – include some exercise into the plan. Plan to meet for a walk, a hike on trails or a bike ride. Help your kids get more active by planning activities for them and their friends that involve being outdoors – that can include anything from a simple game of tag or hide-and-go-seek to a more organized sports activity.

You can also consider commuting by bike or walking to places you normally drive. Try biking to work one or two days a week, or walking to the grocery store. You can even pretend you don't have a car and walking or bike riding is your only option. Try that several times week and you'll be adding a health benefit as well as some savings on gas.

3. Reduce media time.
Most of us spend too much time in front of the TV, on social media sites, checking emails or just surfing the net. Try to cut down on all of these screen-oriented activities to help you find the time to get to bed earlier so you can get up earlier to exercise – or so you have more time after work to fit in your exercise.

You can also consider being an active TV watcher. Try to schedule in some exercise during commercials – sit ups, push ups, wall squats – just about anything that has you getting up off the couch. Do the dishes and housework during commercials as well. The key is to get out of a seated position and move so you stoke your metabolism and keep your cells activated.

4. Choose an activity you will enjoy.
It is much easier to commit yourself to exercise and find the time if you choose something you truly enjoy doing. We generally find time for our hobbies, so make exercise one of your favorite hobbies. Find an activity that you love to do and you will be more motivated to do it as part of your daily life rather than something that's just added on to an already busy routine.

5. Just say "NO!"
With all the stresses in life, the last thing we need is more on our plate. Take a good look at what you consider priorities in your life and start thinking about what you can cut out to make more time for yourself and your health goals. Make fitness a priority by saying "no" to extra responsibilities that will further take you down the path of complacency and inactivity. These kinds of decisions are difficult to make and they may affect other people as well as yourself. But at the end of the day, you have the primary responsibility for your health and nobody else can do it for you. So make the commitment. Do the exercise as part of an overall plan for healthier living. And enjoy the rewards now and long into the future.