By Soji James, CPT, CSCS
How often do you exercise each week?
According to Uncle Sam’s guidelines, you should be engaging in moderate aerobic activity at least 150-300 minutes per week in order to obtain optimal health benefits.
I think we can all agree with the government on one thing at least: sitting less and moving more is pretty good for your health. When you get in more exercise throughout the week, you feel better and it’s easier to reach your goals.
The thing is—well, life happens.
You could start off the week with the best intentions possible, and then a busy work schedule, an unexpected medical emergency, or a spur of the moment social engagement could derail plans. Many people begin their wellness journeys with a bang, only to be interrupted by these factors that cause them to throw in the towel.
One of the biggest reasons that people quit working out is due to a lack of time. Of all of the things that life throws at you, it’s easy to run out of hours in the day, but it’s very important to understand that the lack of time mindset is simply that: a mindset. You are the architect of your story, and you determine your priorities in life. Here are 5 ways to ditch the excuses and make more room for exercise.
Hear me out. If you are finding it nearly impossible to get to the gym in the morning or after work, research shows that you may be able to get away with sneaking in workouts right in your own home. Researchers at Liverpool John Moores University were interested in discovering whether home HIIT workouts were an efficient time conserving strategy, so they conducted a study where 32 obese individuals completed a program of either: 1) a supervised lab-based HIIT program, 2) the government-recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 3) a home-based HIIT program of simple body weight exercises performed without equipment. They measured a range of health markers and found that the home-based HIIT option was as effective as the other 2 methods in bringing about change to body composition, cardiovascular disease risk indicators, and regulating glucose among other monitored outcomes. This means popping in a workout dvd, subscribing to workout apps such as NEOU fitness or Class Pass Live, or making an in-home purchase such as a Peloton bike are all viable choices to keep you in good shape.
A lot of times we feel that either we have to get in a full hour of exercise, or it isn’t worth it at all. This limiting belief is completely false and does more harm than good. Countless research studies have shown that HIIT (high intensity interval training) where people alternate short bursts of intense activity with fixed periods of less intense activity/rest can possibly be even more effective than moderate exercise. These types of workouts have been proven to increase your metabolism, preserve muscle, and help you burn more fat. If you can’t find an hour of time in your day, I can see that. I can possibly even rationalize finding 30 minutes being a tough task some days, but I find it hard to believe that anyone can’t find 5-20 minutes in a day to dedicate to their health.
If you truly believe that you can’t find the time, then one exercise that you may benefit from is taking a 24 hour audit. So many times we believe that we are truly busy, when in reality we really aren’t being efficient with all of the time that we have access to. With an audit of your day, you may be highly surprised to find that: a) you are wasting a lot of time doing things that don’t really matter in the long run, b) many tasks that we execute on a daily basis can actually be delegated out, and c) by reevaluating your priorities, you can make time for exercise. That’s the thing about workouts: you usually won’t find time for them; you need to make time for them.
You’re probably familiar with the concept of compound interest when it comes to investing or saving money, but that’s not the only arena that it will help you in. When it comes to losing weight, you have to achieve a caloric deficit. You need to be burning more calories than you take in. NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is basically any movement that isn’t intended as exercise, which adds up over the long haul to help you tilt the scale in your favor. Every bit helps! So being highly fidgety, taking business calls while pacing around/walking outside, or biking to work instead of driving are all small ways to sneak in “exercise” or movement in your day. If you are motivated to step up your “NEAT” game, I recommend investing in a wearable like the Fitbit Versa. It’s a fun way to track steps, get you motivated to move more, and “gameify” your fitness. Find out more about it here.
When you can’t find a moment in your busy schedule, maybe you need to switch up the way that you currently meet and connect with others. In the business world, many people are taking meetings on-the-go or “sweat-working,” where instead of meeting other like minded professionals/people out at happy hour, they are taking workout classes and maybe sticking around for a small bite afterwards. Look at your schedule and examine where you possibly may be able to make some arrangements for fitness. Instead of taking lunch at your desk, ask your coworker to be your new running partner. You never know until you try or ask!