If you were to ask a large number of people what is the most important reason they don’t exercise, guess what would most reply: “I don’t have enough time”. I get it, it can be challenging to find time to exercise in our busy lives. Life today is filled with so many activities that it seems we barely have time to breathe. But it is important to make physical activity a priority for the numerous health benefits it provides. Remember you are not only becoming a healthier person today, but you are actually buying out more time for your future. A recent study in North America found that adopting healthier habits, including at least 3.5 hours of exercise per week, were estimated to live on average 12 years longer for men and 14 years longer for women (link). And these are not only “years”, but healthier and active-filled times.
Here are some tips for fitting exercise into your daily routine:
1) Make a schedule: Block off specific times in your schedule for exercise, just like you would any other important activity. You could also consider setting a reminder or adding a task to your to-do list to help you stay on track. These are unnegotiable appointments with yourself, the most important person in your life. And don’t look at me funny, you are the most important person in your life, for how can you then dedicate time to others, like your spouse or kids, if you are tired or unhealthy? You must work on yourself before being able to help others. Of course, it is important to be realistic with these bookings. Don’t put them right next to an important meeting with your boss or when there is a chance to be stuck in traffic. Find time slots that will work on your schedule and stick to those
2) Exercise in the morning: Exercise first thing in the morning can be a great way to start your day on a positive note. You’ll be less likely to skip your workout if you do it before other commitments or distractions come up. It will also help you to start your day energized, ready for your busy schedule. And by doing something healthy in the morning you are more likely to continue choosing good habits over the course of the day, instead of falling into your old unhealthy habits. Triple win!
3) Find ways to incorporate movement into your daily routine: There are many opportunities throughout the day to fit in a bit of physical activity. Consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator, going for a walk during your lunch break, or doing some stretching or yoga before bed. Each one of these little actions do count, they are like the proverbial drops of water that fill a cup. You will start choosing healthier things unconsciously, which will help your mood and improve your health, one stair-step at a time
4) Make it social: Exercise can be more enjoyable if you do it with others. And even when you don’t feel like exercising, your group will push you through, even unconsciously. You know they will be there, you know you will have fun with them, you know they will be there rooting for you. Consider joining a sports team or exercise class, or finding a workout buddy to motivate and support you. Only warning, choose others with the same goals as you so you can push each other to achieve them.
5) Don’t be too hard on yourself: Life happens, it’s okay if you can’t find time for a long workout every single day. Don’t fall in the trap of quitting altogether if you missed one, or a few, of your goals. Remember, even just a few minutes of physical activity can have positive benefits. Don’t let a busy schedule be an excuse to skip exercise altogether. You can always take a little longer walking your dog or add a short stretch right before bed. Do something and fend off those feelings of failure for missing a workout.
Remember, the key is to find ways to fit exercise into your daily routine, not fit your schedule around exercise. There is always something that works for you and your schedule. With a little planning and creativity, you can make time for physical activity and enjoy all the benefits it has to offer.