Lack of time is often cited as the number one reason for not exercising. Work, caring for children, social engagements, and even housework (women still do almost double the amount as men) all take up a considerable portion of the day. When something needs to be sacrificed – exercise is often an easy choice. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by trying to fit exercise into your life, below are some tips, suggestions, and things to think about.
Do you have time?
It may seem obvious, but take a few minutes to look through your weekly schedule and determine if you really do or don’t have time for exercise. Are there any areas where:
· You are not using your time effectively? For example, are you spending half an hour every morning hitting snooze when you could be going for a walk instead.
· You are spending time on things you consider to be less important? This is where your own priorities come into play (more on that later). It’s often worth leaving the dirty dinner dishes in the sink and heading out for a family walk instead.
· You could multitask? Could you squeeze in a quick walk whilst the kids are at their music lessons or take a ‘walking meeting’ with a work colleague?
Why do you exercise?
Thinking about your reasons for exercising can be motivating and help you make time for it. Exercise has a vast range of benefits including increasing cognitive performance, energy levels, and mood. Whilst you might be incredibly busy at work, you may find taking 20 minutes away from your desk each day to exercise actually increases your overall productivity and performance. Likewise, waking up a little earlier to exercise can improve your energy levels throughout the day, even though you might feel sleepy to start with (note: sleep is important too. If you’re already getting less than 7 hours sleep a night I wouldn’t recommend cutting back anymore to accommodate exercise).
Some people thoroughly enjoy exercise or undertake it as part of their work, same as other people might enjoy playing a musical instrument or be employed in an orchestra. We don’t tend to beat ourselves up for not being a brilliant violinist, yet women often berate themselves for not being fitter (or looking ‘fit’). Whilst it would be lovely if we all had an hour each day to spend exercising, it’s simply not possible for everyone. If you choose to spend an hour each day exercising – good on you! But the same is said if you choose to spend that hour playing the violin, volunteering, looking after children, working hard, or having quality time with your family. How you spend each minute of your day is up to you.
On the flip side, if you find you’re not living life in line with your values and priorities and you do want to spend that hour exercising, schedule it in. It might be a case of skipping housework for the day and spending that time joyfully moving your body.
Something is better than nothing
Finding that you genuinely don’t have time for an hour, or even a half hour, workout every day can feel disheartening for some. However, an ‘all or nothing’ approach to exercise can mean you miss out on some potentially great benefits. Taking even 10 minutes to get up and moving can have a positive impact on your health.
Viewing exercise as a tool for self-care can help you prioritise it and use it to enhance your energy and productivity in other areas of your life. Be sure to offer yourself some compassion if it doesn’t happen though. Speaking negatively or beating yourself up for not exercising as much as you think you should is rarely helpful.