I regularly find myself in conversations with people who are looking for ways to make time for exercise. Making time is a challenge that I have faced for a while now, starting during my previous deskbound career. Even now with the early starts and late finishes of the typical day of a fitness coach, it can be more of a challenge for me than you might think! (You could be excused for thinking that fitness coaches love to work out though don’t they?) Throw in other life commitments and it’s not easy!
I think that if you don’t feel like you have time to exercise, then you really need to make the time to exercise. If you make looking after yourself a priority, you can make sure that you’re showing up to everything else you do as the best version of yourself. Based on my years of experience both in fitting in exercise to a schedule with parenting and full time work, here’s my tips for making time to fit in exercise.
- Exercise first thing in the morning
I wasn’t a morning person before I started coaching, so I can sympathise with anyone who looks at this one with some reservations. As the day goes on, many people find that they can get sidetracked by emails or work or the kids or meetings or (insert reason here). But if you start the day with a workout, the day doesn’t have a chance to throw you a curveball before you get your exercise done. The payoff will be that you’ll have more energy throughout the day and be more productive!
- Schedule it in your calendar
There’s a saying: “What gets scheduled gets done.” If you have a vague plan to do some exercise at some time during the day, it may or may not happen depending on how the day pans out. But if you put your exercise commitment in your calendar, it’s scheduled! If you use the calendar on your phone, you’ll even get a reminder before the entry to make it happen.
If you arrange to exercise with a friend, you’ll be accountable to them to turn up and work hard. You wouldn’t want to let down a friend, would you?
I often say that the best exercise is the one that you enjoy. You’re more likely to do something that you enjoy than something that isn’t enjoyable. If you’re looking forward to going for a walk, you’re more likely to do that than the exercise that you’re secretly (or not so secretly) dreading. And you get more benefit from the things that you do than from the things you don’t do!
Taking the stairs as an alternative to taking a lift at work or an escalator while out shopping is a sneaky way to get the heart rate up. If you find yourself puffed out from taking the stairs, never fear! After a few times of taking the stairs your body will start to adapt and it will get much easier 🙂
A lot of people work through their lunch break at their desk. This doesn’t give their body a chance to loosen up some of the tightness and stiffness that you get from sitting at a desk all day. Even if you only take a walk at lunchtime around the block, you’ll at least give the body a chance to get moving and feel better!
Along the same lines, Steve Jobs was known for his walking meetings – having a discussion while going out for a walk. If it worked for Steve, it could work for you!
- Train with a fitness coach
Training with a coach has many benefits. You have a time scheduled in your calendar that you can stick to, and the coach is waiting for you to turn up! A good coach will hold you accountable to make sure that you make time for exercise, and will be able to make sure that you do the exercises that are most safe and time efficient and get you the results you’re looking for.
Research has shown that you get the same benefit from breaking up exercise into smaller snack size pieces compared to one larger chunk of time. So if it’s a challenge to find 30 minutes in your day, what if you could find 3 lots of 10 minutes to do some exercise that you enjoy?
- Get moving while watching TV
Rather than being stuck to the couch while watching TV, what if you got up and did some body weight exercises? You could set a challenge for how many squats or lunges you can do in a commercial break, or how long you can hold a plank!
Many people will be familiar with wearable devices such as Fitbits that set a target for how many steps that you take in a day. It can be much easier to make time for exercise if there’s a goals such as number of steps to meet each day. Some companies have even held challenges for their employees to see who can take the most steps in a day! Picture a meeting room with all meeting participants walking around the room to ensure the step count keeps increasing 🙂
As a minimum, if you’re able to make 30 minutes in a day for walking, you’ll feel much better and your body will move much much better than if you didn’t make the time. If you can make more time than that and do some exercise that you enjoy, you’ll be doing even better for your fitness, health and wellbeing!