Whether you’re a full time student or a single mom, fitting exercise into a hectic schedule can seem to be more work than it’s worth. But, if you’ve weighed the pro’s and con’s, and have decided that exercise is worth the hassle, here are a few things you can do to make fitting fitness into your life easier.
1. Get Educated and Get Prioritized
Physical fitness is important. The first step in making time for it is wanting to make time for it. Exercise helps to stabilize your mood, increase your ability to concentrate, improve your body’s immune system, and combat stress. Not to mention its ability to prevent diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even Alzheimer’s!
The more you understand how exercise can help improve your life, the more likely you will be to make time for it.
Try this: Make a list of the reasons why you should exercise, and the reasons why you shouldn’t. (Can you guess which list will be longer?)
2. Log Off and Turn Off.
The average North American adult spends about 8 hours per day watching TV. That’s as much as a full time job! And not only that, but TV watching almost always coincides with mindless snacking, usually on unhealthy foods. If you commit to watching just one hour less of TV per day, you can fit in time for a great workout and probably save yourself a couple hundred calories.
Try this: Write down when you start and when you stop watching TV every day for a week. I’m willing to bet that you’ll be surprised the results, and I’m sure you will be able to cut down by just 5 hours per week to fit in time to exercise.
3. Skip the Gym and Get Outside:
It may sound counter-intuitive, but it is one of the best pieces of advise that I can give. The key to fitting fitness into your life is to find something that you enjoy doing. Don’t like going to the gym and soaking up the stench of sweat every day? Most people don’t. Find an activity that gets your heart rate up without bringing your mood down, and you will be way more likely to stick to it!
Try this: Find a good trail and go for a hike with a friend, go on a kayaking excursion for a memorable first date, or grab the bike and tour the city from a new angle.
4. Set Realistic Goals
If you are tied up with work or school or kids for 10 hours out of the day, and still have to make supper or drive your kids to sports games in the evening, it is not very realistic to try to fit in 3 hours of exercise 6 days a week. CSEP, The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, suggests that adults between the ages of 18-64 get 150 minutes of activity per week. That’s just a 30 minute workout, 5 days per week! (Or 50 minutes 3x per week). You do not need to hit the gym for hours at a time to see results.
Try this: Start with small goals. Make it a goal to get to the gym once per week, and do this for a few weeks until it becomes a habit. Then, add in a second workout, or make your session a bit longer. Don’t try to change your life in a day, or you will just set yourself up for disappointment.
5. Join a Group Fitness Class or Sports Club
Ever done something with more effort because you knew someone was watching? Fitness is the same way. I could go into all of the psychological and evolutionary reasons why working out in a group leads to increased performance, but all you need to know is that it does.
Try this: Join a group fitness class. Most places offer one week or one month promo’s so that you can see if you like the class. If you find you push harder when you’ve got company, stick with it. Always mix it up and try different classes to save from boredom as well!
6. Some is Better Than None
A little bit of exercise can go a long way when you’re not able to get much of it. If little bouts of “accidental activity” are all that you have time for, then make those moments count!
Try this: Walk or bike to work, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park the car a little farther away at the grocery store, or get off the bus a stop early.
The most important thing is to always keep trying. It is never too late to hop back on the bandwagon if you’ve fallen off, no matter how long it’s been. If you’re really looking for that extra push to get you started, consider meeting with a personal trainer for a few weeks to get the ball rolling. There is nothing like a financial investment to get you into the gym! 😉