Finding Time to Exercise

It CAN be done!

Getty Images/mark hooper

Be honest...on your list of priorities, where does exercise fall? Is it even on your list? Some of you don't exercise because you think you don't have time. You're waiting for your schedules to ease up, for the weather to cool off or heat up, for school to end or start, or some other future event. The truth is, there's never a right time to get moving. It's now or never, so read on to find out how to make exercise a reality.

Why You Don't Exercise

We all have excuses for why we don't exercise. Recognize any of these?

  • Exercise is boring. If you don't look forward to your workouts, it's no wonder you skip them. People often force themselves into activities that don't interest them which, of course, increases the quit-factor.
  • There are no immediate consequences to skipping a workout. It's not like you'll gain 10 pounds or suddenly get heart disease if you miss one day. But, it's easy to let the time get away from you until pretty soon it's been a month since your last workout. Then come the consequences -- weight gain, low energy and more.
  • You're waiting for things to calm down. Haven't you figured it out yet? Life doesn't calm down as we get older. Jobs, kids, family, social obligations...they're never going to go away. If you're waiting for a clear schedule, you'll be waiting for a long time. If you really want to exercise, find a way to do it now.
  • You're waiting to fall in love with exercise. Think you'll suddenly wake up one morning, itching to get to that workout? It just doesn't work that way. You have to work at it every day and find that motivation wherever you can.
  • You get frustrated by lack of results. Are you a scale-watcher? Remember, it takes time to see results. If you're obsessed with the scale, it's that much harder to stay motivated. Focus on what you're getting NOW--energy, stress reduction, satisfaction, etc.
  • You don't have huge chunks of time to do all this exercise. You're in luck--you don't need lots of time. Just 10 or so minutes a few times throughout the day and you've got yourself an exercise program.

Finding Fun in Exercise

You may not think of exercise as being fun, but maybe you should change your perspective a little. Working out offers a different kind of pleasure. No, it's not sitting-at-the-beach-sipping-a-tropical-drink kind of pleasure, but a wow-my-life-is-better kind of pleasure. Sound cheesy? Perhaps, but it's true that exercise gives you:

  1. Satisfaction. Admit it--does anything feel better than finishing a workout? You feel good about yourself, confident and, most importantly, you learn to trust yourself to follow through with your commitments.
  2. Relaxation. If you do it right, a good workout will leave you both energized and relaxed. You're alert, but not stressed and you're able to accomplish more.
  3. Weight loss. Duh.
  4. Better health. There's no better prescription for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and other conditions related to being overweight.
  5. Confidence. There's no better confidence builder than exercise. You become comfortable in your own skin and you typically become more graceful, balanced and agile.

    Suggestions from Readers

    Ever wonder how other people do it? You know them -- people who always seem to find time for exercise. Hey, they had to start somewhere, just like you. Maybe you can learn a thing or two from them about making exercise your top priority. Below are some thoughts from some of our former forum members on how they've managed to stick with their exercise programs:

    • "When I worked full-time and went to school, I used my lunch hour 2 days a week for walking/running workouts. I kept a resistance band at my desk and did whatever exercises I could during the day...if you really want to do something, you'll find a way."
    • "I make time. I work full time and...squeeze it in wherever I can. I take my resistance band to work and use it at breaks or lunch. I also take a little extra time on bathroom breaks and do the stairs. You may have to divide your workouts into mini-workouts."
    • "I started running at home on the treadmill, lifting weights again when I could...I find time, I make time, and I talk to folks about what they do. The hardest part is getting started and making it a routine. After it's a habit it's a cake walk."
    • "I thought I didn't have time until I made it a PRIORITY- since changing my perspective on it - it's the LAST thing that would ever get dropped. We always manage to find time for something that is important to us."
    • "Most days will pack my gym bag the night before, so it's there as a reminder of what I need to do after work. I keep a notebook and plan my workout schedule for the week in advance each week so I have an idea of what I'm going to be doing."
    • "I make it a higher priority than other things. I wake up an hour earlier just to be sure I have the time for exercise. If that eats up available leisure time in the evening, so I can get to sleep early enough to be healthy, so be it."

    Final Thoughts

    It's not easy making exercise a habit, nor does it have to be the equivalent of moving a mountain.

    It starts with a decision and is followed by taking an action. That action can be as simple as walking the dog or as complicated as training for a marathon. Either way, there's no better time to start than now.

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