One of the best pieces of advice you can receive about starting a regular exercise habit is this: don’t try and squeeze exercise into your already crowded schedule. Make a point of clearing time that is only to be used for one thing – exercising.
Get out your planner, diary or calendar and schedule your exercise time just as you would other important activities like attending a meeting at work, picking the kids up from school or visiting the doctor.
If you believe that you’ll be able to add exercise time into your day without clearing some time for it, then think hard. Even if you’re not very busy and have a lot of time to yourself, the discipline of actually making an appointment with yourself (and the treadmill) makes it harder to break.
And if you are really busy (like most of us) without making time for it, when do you think you’ll have time? If this is going to be a lasting habit, it has to become a part of your life, and that means really giving yourself a opportunity to do it.
Here are some ideas that will help busy people make time to exercise.
If you’re busy looking after kids:
- Ask a friend, your partner, friends or parents to look after your children while you exercise. If necessary, schedule your exercise during a time when your child sleeps.
- Get up before everyone else does and exercise then. This can be really tough, as exhausted parents need every bit of sleep they can get, so this tactic is probably best left to people who are early-birds.
- Use the crèche facilities at your local gym – book your children in for a time when your favourite class is on.
- Make a ‘play date’ with other friends who have children. Leave the children with one or two other parents while each of you take turns to exercise.
If you’re busy caring for an older child or adult:
- Investigate whether there are any respite care organisations you could utilise to give yourself some time to get important things done, like exercising.
- Ask friends or family to give you some time out so you can do some physical activity. It will refresh you and clear your head.
If you’re busy with work:
- Talk to your work colleagues about doing some exercise together – meeting up before work, during lunchtimes or after work. This could be just going for a walk together or perhaps you could use a space at work as a place to do some other exercises like crunches or sit ups. Perhaps a few of you could pool your funds and hire some equipment (a treadmill or exercise bike) and set it up at work, with your employer’s support.
- See if there is a place you can exercise on the way to or from work – is there a gym, beach, running track or other place you could stop and get active? If it becomes part if your normal routine, with time built into your schedule, you’ll be more likely to do it, instead of adding something totally new to what you’re already doing.
Other ideas that may help:
- Use whatever planning tools you use now to manage your time – your BlackBerry, the calendar on your computer, the family planner hanging on the kitchen wall, your diary – book in the time just like any other appointment.
- Let your family and others who are close to you know that you’ll need to allocate some time to do some exercise. Explain to them why you are doing it, how important it is and how long it will take each week (about 1 ½ hours). Work together to decide on times that will suit both you and others, if you have responsibilities such as young children to care for.
- Set yourself reminder messages on your computer, send yourself a motivating email (write it when you’re feeling motivated and read it just before your planned session), even leave Post-It notes to yourself – anything to motivate and remind yourself to get moving!
Hopefully some of these ideas will have helped you effectively plan the time you’ll spend on physical activity. Allocating time for exercise is important. It’s not another incidental activity that can or cannot be done – it’s as important as any other activity you make time for, so make sure you’re well prepared and ready to go!
Resource: Healthlogix – Australian Corporate Wellness Online. www.australiancorporatewellness.com.au