Not having enough time is the most common excuse for not exercising, yet lots of busy people exercise.
Because the health benefits of regular exercise are so significant, rather than making a statement like, “I don’t have the time to exercise” or “I can’t exercise” ask a question such as, “How can I make the time to exercise?” or “How can I exercise?”
Research across the board indicates that regular physical activity is beneficial to health; controls weight, reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, reduces risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, reduces risk of some cancers, strengthens bones and muscles, improves mental health and mood, improves your ability to do daily tasks and prevent falls, and increases you chances of living longer (Centers for Disease Control. Retreived from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm).
So when it comes to the excuse of not having the time to exercise ask yourself, “How can I find the time?” there probably isn’t anything more important to your quality and length of life. But with work, kids, household duties, financial limitations and other perceived obstacles, it’s hard to fit exercise in. Recommendations for aerobic exercise are at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week. Do strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. Aim to do a single set of each exercise, using a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions.
Here are 6 things you can try to fit it in:
Get up earlier: With just an additional 20 minutes each morning you can meet the 75 minutes of vigorous activity in just 4 days. Exercising in the morning also ensures that you get your workout in before your day gets away from you.
Use your lunch break: With just 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise during your lunch break 5 days a week you meet the 150-minute recommendation.
Plan ahead: If your life is random and you seem to always have interruptions and obstacles then plan for them. Look ahead at each day of your week and see where you have some holes or can make some time. Have whatever you need set out and ready to go; I keep a pair of shoes, fresh footies and a workout towel right by my weight rack. I have a yoga mat and a workout bag with my shoes in my car. I have adjustable dial weights that I will keep at my son’s house in Pocatello during football season so when I go to his games I have what I need there. I always travel with loops, sliders and my iPad to stream my workouts. If where I am has a floor I can work out.
Split your workouts: With exercise it isn’t all or nothing. Breaking up your training throughout the day still provides benefit. Several times each month I have to do half my strength workout in the morning and the other half in the afternoon due to my schedule (or not getting going soon enough in the morning to finish in time for work). Doing something is better than doing nothing.
Combine your workouts: At least 3 times a week I combine my strength training with my cardio workout. Circuit training or selecting a program that uses large muscle groups, short or no rest periods, and incorporates body weight exercises or uses weights during the cardio portion can get a lot of metabolic bang for your time.
Multi-task: I love listening to personal development or recorded team calls while I lift weights and walk. One of my clients and I walk during our weekly session. She has twin boys that are 3 so it is quite challenging for her to stick with an exercise schedule. The boys love the time outside and we get a lot of work done while cover a lot of ground; 4 miles in our one-hour session.
For my clients that still struggle “finding the time,” I have them keep a log of how they spend their time daily over the course of a week. This not only highlights the time that is wasted but also shows areas where you could implement the multi-tasking option. The reality is that we all spend time on the things we value most and sometimes we need to step back and take a closer look at what we’re really doing instead of what we think we’re doing. So is it a time issue or an avoidance issue?
Finally, for some of you the time issue might be that you think it’s too late for you; your too old for exercise to do you any good. First, it’s never too late, your body will respond to exercise no matter what. There are considerations to be made in regard to safety due to individual factors, but your body wants to be healthy so it will respond.
In fact, 4,207 U.S. women and men (aged 73+/- 6 at baseline) were followed for 10 years to determine the effects of walking on their health. The study found that walking distance and speed are particularly important to lowering risk of cardiovascular disease.
“For example, compared with study participants who walked at a speed of 2 miles per hour, those who walked at 3 mph had a 50%, 53% and 50% lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and CVD, respectively. And compared with participants who walked 0-5 blocks per week, those who walked 49 or more blocks per week had a 36%, 54% and 47% lower risk of CHD, stroke and CVD, respectively.” Lau, T., Bellovary, B., & Kravitz, L. Explore the Value of Exercise for Women’s Health (IDEA Fitness Journal, July-August, 2018). And it doesn’t end here, bone density, weight loss, balance, cognitive function, stress-reduction, and diabetes are all positively affected by exercise at any age whether new to it or not.
An object in motion stays in motion unless acted on by another force. Maybe that force is your head. Lead with your body. All you need to do is start moving. Once the habit of movement is in place you can start thinking more about type. Don’t over complicate it or make it an all-or-nothing deal. Success is doing something.