Exercise? Who has time for that?
This is the number one reason that I hear from people, regarding why they don’t exercise. And I get it. Work, school, civic organizations, church, family responsibilities, house work… the list of activities that take our time goes on and on. And the things I just mentioned are all legitimate, reasonable, even admirable, ways for us to spend our time. You can probably think of more.
But… if we really want to do all that we can to keep ourselves in optimum health…
Let’s reflect back for a moment, to the “tripod” that I’ve mentioned before:
1. Generally taking care of yourself (regular checkups, following doctor’s orders, managing stress, getting enough sleep, etc.)
2. Fueling your body with proper nutrition.
3. Physical exercise.
I propose that if you’re too busy to exercise, you’re too busy. It may be necessary to reevaluate your priorities, and make some adjustments to your routine. Or, maybe it’s just a matter of being creative with the forms of exercise you choose. (If you haven’t yet made the list described here, now would be a good time.) Most of us have discretionary time in our week that we don’t realize that we have; the key is to find out where that time is going, and how to use it to create time for workouts. Having said that, it may, at the present time, actually be impossible for you to make time for workouts in your schedule. Perhaps you’ve accumulated an over-large list of responsibilities, or they have simply fallen to you for one reason or another. No need to despair; even in such circumstances, it’s usually possible to add beneficial physical activity to your routine, until such time as you’re able to begin a more structured fitness regimen. Examples of this kind of thing include:
1. Parking the car farther way from your destination to increase walking distance.
2. Taking the stairs rather than the elevator. “But I need to get to the fifteenth floor,” you say. Then take the stairs to the second floor, before you get on the elevator. Make it the third floor after a couple of days, and so on.
3. Walking whenever possible. Need something from the store down the street? Walk. I live two blocks from a drugstore, yet I often drive to get there (mostly in bad weather). I remember visiting New York City, and walking far greater distances!
4. Riding a bicycle.
Just don’t give up on the idea of becoming more fit! Where there’s a will, there’s a way, as the old saying goes.
If you’ve decided that you do have time in your life for some sort of exercise regimen, then I recommend that you do some research about exercise and fitness. Find out for yourself. Sure, you could just find a good personal trainer and/or nutritionist, but there is an extraordinary amount of information readily available online. The United States government has information here, and this website is packed with information about types and execution of many forms of exercise.
Some points worth remembering:
1. Check with your primary care physician before beginning any weight loss or exercise plan.
2. Make time for cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise, and resistance training (anaerobic) exercise. Both are important, and contribute to overall good health in different ways.
3. Learn about maximum heart rate and how it relates to exercise.
4. Choose exercises that you enjoy doing.
5. Build flexibility and variety into your regimen.
6. Don’t become a prisoner of your own plan and expectations. There’s no quicker path to feeling like you might just as well give up, than to bind yourself rigidly to a fixed plan. Be forgiving of yourself when you aren’t able to accomplish what you originally intended for a day. I’ve been guilty of this myself; beating myself up because I didn’t accomplish all that I had in mind for the day, for only walking 6 miles, instead of 9, only doing 20 minutes of cardio, instead of 45, etc. Be prepared to change your plans at the last minute. On days when I’m not sure that I’ll be able to exercise or not, I pack my gym bag anyway, and have it with me throughout the day. Just yesterday I was able to take advantage of an unexpected opening in my schedule to insert a weightlifting workout into my day. This wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t brought my prepared gym bag with me that morning. Always allow for variation and flexibility. You get to the gym and the pool is unexpectedly closed? Get on the treadmill or stationary bike, instead. The gym is busy, and there’s a line waiting to use the flat bench for dumbbell presses? Use a chest press machine instead, or drop to the floor and do old-fashioned pushups. With this kind of mindset, you guard against feeling disappointment, frustration, or even anger, that things didn’t work out exactly the way you wanted.
And, when it gets right down to it, that’s a good outlook for life in general, isn’t it?