We all lead busy lives and sometimes it feels like there’s no time for exercise. In a previous post I discussed how it’s important to do all three aspects of physical activity: cardio, strength, and flexibility. I also mentioned that exercise should be done almost daily (days off are necessary). If you aren’t currently exercising, this notion can be overwhelming. You may be saying “I just don’t have the time”. You might feel like that’s the case, but I believe that we have time for what we make time for. We all have the same amount of time — 24 hours a day, 168 hours per week.
Here are some tips to help you integrate exercise as a normal part of your life.
1. You have to want it
You can understand why exercise is important and know that you should do it, but without the drive to really make it a priority in your life eventually the “newness” will fizzle out and you’ll find yourself working out less and less. I’ve found that if you really want to make a change, it will happen. So find the desire and go for it!
2. Schedule it in
For most people, if something isn’t in their calendar, it’s like it doesn’t exist and won’t happen. (I’m totally one of those people). So, figure out what time slot works for you and put it in!
For me, mornings are ideal. I like to get up early, hit the gym, and then get on with my day. Your schedule might be different. Working out at the same time every day is recommended, but not necessary. Depending on what other commitments you have, it may change from day to day. That’s ok! The secret is getting it on your calendar and then…
3. Make it non-negotiable
Treat exercise time as your time and as an appointment that can’t be changed. Scheduling in helps to solidify it as part of your life (aka tip #2).
Of course, if urgent things come up and you need to miss a day, that’s ok, but the idea is that you view exercise as a “fixed” item in your schedule.
4. Choose the right time
One of the ways you can get discouraged about exercise is that it never seems to happen (even if you try to schedule it). Part of the problem could be that the time you’ve chosen just doesn’t realistically work (despite how hopeful you are). Do yourself a favor and really evaluate the time of day you will be able to workout.
Are mornings good? Will you realistically be able to get up earlier? If so, great! If you anticipate hitting snooze too much and too often, don’t do mornings. Lunch might work…or maybe not. Think of if it’s possible to zip out at lunch for a quick 30 min workout. Do you often get stuck in long meetings that go overtime? If so, a mid-day gym session might not be the best. After work is a great option for many people, but it all depends on how quickly you need to get home.
The point I’m trying to make is to really consider where you can add in some time to exercise. Then try. Times that you thought might work, don’t. Not to worry, just choose another time and see if that’s better. There isn’t one schedule that works for everyone. Find out what works for you!
5. Set realistic expectations
If you are just starting to add exercise in, choose realistic goals. Start smaller, with 2-3 workouts a week and build up from there. As well, be realistic about the amount of time you can spend on each workout. Having a goal of an hour-long workout may be too ambitious to start with and you’ll feel disappointed if you can’t make it. Use the old psychological trick — under promise and over deliver! :)
6. Do it with friends
Don’t underestimate the power of community and working out with friends. My sister-in-law Heather is a perfect example. Not long ago Heather was out of shape and not happy with her fitness level. Some friends invited her to a bootcamp. She started going regularly with her friends and quickly was hooked (and seeing great results!). In fact, she loved it so much she’s become a Trainer herself and is now helping other women reach their fitness goals. I believe a huge part of her success was the fact that she was doing it with friends.
Friends help push you and keep you motivated. They are also someone to be accountable to… making it harder to come up with an excuse not to workout.
If you find it hard to motivate yourself, find a workout partner and become accountable to each other.
7. Just start
What are you waiting for? Make a cup of tea, sit down in front of your calendar and schedule RIGHT NOW your workout days/times.
Let me know in the comments section what your plans are. I’d love to help you achieve your goals!