We all know we should get more exercise … but most of us don’t manage to be nearly so active as we want to be.
It’s easy to blame busy lives. If your boss expects long hours – or you run your own business, or you’re a stay-at-home parent – it can feel like there really is no time at all in your day for exercise.
However busy you are, exercise is important. It isn’t just a way to cut your risk of future health problems – it also gives you more energy on a day-to-day basis, and will help you feel on top of things in a hectic life.
Here’s how to find time to exercise — without letting busyness stop you.
Step #1: Don’t Fixate on the Gym
Some people equate “exercise” with hour-long gym sessions, or organized team sports. You don’t need an expensive, complicated or time-consuming routine, though, in order to get the health benefits of exercise.
If you’re too busy to get to the gym, try a brisk 20 minute walk in your lunch hour and a few stretches in front of the TV during commercial breaks.
If possible, have a more active commute: if your workplace is fairly close by, ask yourself if you could you walk or cycle instead of driving?
Do it: Look at your typical daily schedule, and find a way to get at least 20 minutes of exercise. You might find this easiest if you break it into two 10 minute sessions.
Step #2: Make Exercise a Priority
Even if you don’t consciously prioritize your tasks, you almost certainly have a sense of what’s important and what’s not. When you’re busy, you can’t handle absolutely everything that comes your way – you need to decide what truly matters.
Exercise does matter, even if it feels like a luxury (or an unnecessary chore!) If you tell yourself that exercise is a priority for you, you’ll find it easier to make time for it.
One good way to do this is to get active, at least for a few minutes, first thing in the morning – even if that makes setting your alarm ten minutes earlier.
Do it: Write down at least three reasons why exercise matters to you. Now, look for a way to make exercise a priority in your life. (Remember, this doesn’t have to mean long gym sessions – it could simply mean doing 10 minutes of yoga every morning.)
Step #3: Track Your Progress
It’s very easy to start off an exercise program with great intentions … only to let things slide after a couple of weeks. You’ve probably noticed how busy gyms get during January – yet most of those new faces disappear by February.
One good way to stick with your plans is to keep a record of the exercise that you do. This could be as simple as putting a check mark on the calendar for each day that you successfully do 20 minutes or more of exercise.
If you want something more involved, you could keep an exercise log in a little notebook or spreadsheet, recording what you did at each session, and for how long.
Do it: Decide on a way to track your progress: something that will work well for you. This could involve being accountable to friends, if you want – a great way to boost your motivation. Don’t make your tracking system so complex that you put off using it, though.
And there you have it: three steps to better health and more energy.
If you’re truly so busy that you can’t find 20 minutes a day to exercise, look for ways to cut back on some of your other commitments. Can you make a point of taking a proper break at lunchtime, instead of working at your desk with a sandwich? Could you get your partner and kids to help out more around the house, so you’re not spending so much time on chores?
I’ll leave you with a quote that always helps motivate me…
“Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” – Edward Stanley
Do you have any great tips for exercising, even when you’re busy? Let us know in the comments!
Ali blogs about getting more from life at Aliventures. She also freelances for a number of other blogs and is taking a postgraduate degree in creative writing.