Often the most common excuse for not exercising is "no time.” But according to Lavinia Rodriguez, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of Mind Over Fat Matters: Conquering Psychological Barriers to Weight Management (iUniverse, 2008), she says if you examine that excuse at close range, you’ll see it’s usually about something deeper... 🧐
“Typically, it’s lack of motivation, lack of enjoyment, negative associations, fear or maybe low self-esteem."
Busy as we may be, we have less trouble finding time for television, social networking or even dull household tasks, Rodriguez observes, because there simply aren’t the same steep psychological barriers to those activities.
In other words, if you want to exercise, you’ll make the time. ⏰
Here are 10 simple tips to fit in the exercise your body needs:
1. Make a plan. 📆
The best way to make time for exercise is to have a written plan. Decide on the best time for exercise in your schedule and actually enter it into your computer or cell-phone calendar as a repeat event. This way it shows up daily and there’s less chance of you scheduling something during that time. Also, when you check your schedule in the morning, you’ll see it there and form a mental picture of when and how you’ll be exercising that day, which helps you stay motivated.
2. Subdivide your to-do list. ✅
Rather than making one long to-do list you’ll never complete, divide your list into three categories, advises Lisa Druxman, MA, exercise counselor and founder of the Stroller Strides and Mama Wants Her Body Back programs. “It’s not enough to get things done,” she says. “You need to get the right things done. It’s OK to have dirty clothes in your hamper. It’s OK if you don’t read every email the moment you receive it. It’s not OK to cheat your health.” Druxman suggests the following to-do list makeover:
Take out a sheet of paper and create three boxes that represent the most important parts of your life (e.g., family, work, yourself).
List the top three to-dos that would make the most difference in each category. For family, it might be cooking or helping with homework. For work, it might be returning phone calls or completing a presentation. For yourself, include exercise, plus something else nurturing, like calling a friend or having a healthy lunch.
Finally, block out times on your calendar for those specific to-dos, and honor those very specific commitments.
Having trouble deciding which to-dos are most important? “Think about the things that will have the most impact not just today, but a year from now,” Druxman says.
3. Find five minutes. ⏲
Even if your day is packed with meetings and other commitments, you absolutely can take five minutes for yourself, says Richard Simmons. And that simple act of self-care has the potential to change your life. “I tell people it’s OK to start very, very small.” A five-minute walk now can easily turn into daily 30-minute walks a few weeks from now. “You have to start somewhere,” he says.
4. Limit screen time. 📺
Don’t aimlessly surf cable channels or the Internet, says Lavinia Rodriguez. That’s a surefire way to waste time you could be spending in more active ways. Before you sit down, set a time limit (consider keeping a kitchen timer nearby to alert you when time’s up). Most of us occasionally watch shows we don’t love because we’re bored, notes Franklin Antoian, CPT, founder of iBodyFit.com. “Consider trading just 30 minutes of that low-value television time for exercise,” he says. “My guess is you won’t miss it.”
5. Think positive. 🤔
Psychologists suggest that actively editing your negative self-talk patterns is a powerful way to support healthier lifestyle choices. For example, anytime you catch yourself thinking, “I am too busy to work out,” rephrase the thought in more positive, empowering terms, such as, “I choose to make myself a priority.” Or, “I do have time to be healthy.” Or, “I am willing to do something active today.” Over time, those positive thought patterns will elbow out the negative ones, helping you to see your available choices more clearly.
6. Find a cheerleader. 🎉
What looks like lack of time is often lack of motivation, so consider recruiting emotional support. “I decided 35 years ago that I would be the court jester of health and get people excited about fitness,” says legendary activity advocate Richard Simmons. “Because, when you’re excited about something, you find time to do it.” Nominate a friend, family member, life coach or personal trainer to be your cheerleader and encourage you (positive messages only; no nagging) on a daily basis.
7. Bring the family. 👨👩👧👧
If family obligations prevent you from fitting in regularly scheduled workouts, rope your gang into other types of group activities. Schedule family hikes, soccer games, after-dinner walks, bike rides or family trips to the gym. Let the kids suggest family-activity options. And remember that exercise is something you’re doing for your family, says Diedre Pai, 35, a mom to two girls under age 3. “When the kids see that exercise is important to Mommy and Daddy, it will be important to them, too.”
8. Rise and shine. ☀️
For most people, the day only gets more demanding as it goes on, says celebrity trainer and fitness DVD star Sara Haley. “Exercising first thing in the morning will ensure you fit it in,” she says. Lay out your workout clothes the night before, she suggests. “This way you won’t waste any time and can’t claim you forgot anything.”
9. Ditch your ride. 🚲
Whenever feasible, hop on the bus, train or subway, or ride your bike to work or to run errands, says Haley. If you can’t do it every day, try for once a week. People who take alternative transportation tend to get more exercise than daily car commuters.
10. Hit it hard. 💪🏻
“When you’re short on time, focus on higher-payoff workouts,” says Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman (Crown Archetype, 2010). “If you’re focused, there’s no reason you can’t get results in less than 20 minutes a week.” His favorite routines? Kettlebell swings (consider keeping a kettlebell by your desk) and slow-motion resistance training. “One female case study cut her body fat 3 percentage points in roughly four weeks with only five minutes of kettlebell swings three times a week,” he says. The key is staying focused and maintaining a high intensity throughout the mini-workout session.
Want more ideas? Check out this Experience Life article.