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5 Ways to Make Time for Exercise

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5 Ways to Make Time for Exercise
(Even If You Don’t Have Time)

Although I hate to acknowledge it, the new school year is upon us. And, whether you have school-age children or not, that generally means more activities and a busier schedule. Which means that exercise could get pushed off your schedule, if you’re not careful. It’s so easy for that to happen, even though you know the benefits of regular exercise for your body, mind and spirit.

Because the problem is that knowledge doesn’t always translate into action.  Even though I’m convinced that regular exercise can improve my health and reduce my stress level, I run into barriers almost every day that threaten to keep me from exercising.  And if you’re a wife, mom, daughter, friend, employee or homemaker, you probably run into those barriers too, starting with “too many items on the to-do list” and continuing through “not enough hours in the day.” Especially when the new school year kicks into high gear.

But regular exercise is important – really important.  It can make a tremendous difference in your health, peace of mind and quality of life.  Nothing else pays the kind of return on investment that you can earn from walking, jogging, biking, dancing and just generally getting up and moving.

So if you’re struggling to juggle everything you have to do, here are 5 ways to make time to exercise, even if you don’t have time: 

Decide that you are worth it.  Many women devote so much time to doing things for others, they run out of time to do things for themselves.  Yes, your children’s sports and social activities and your volunteer work are important, but they’re not as important as your health.  Or sanity.  So decide that your body and mind are worth 150 minutes of physical activity each week (equivalent to 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week), the amount recommended by the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

Schedule it. Add it to your calendar, the same way you schedule dentist appointments and soccer practice. It’s just as important, and it won’t happen if you aren’t very intentional about making it happen. In addition, consider scheduling an exercise event, such as a charity walk or run, that’s several months in future. Then use that upcoming event as an incentive to stick to your exercise plan.

Take advantage of every exercise resource you can access.  You don’t have to join a fancy fitness center in order to exercise.  But don’t use your lack of a gym membership as an excuse to avoid it either. When my 2nd baby was about 6 months old, I couldn’t take him to the gym.  He cried and cried!  So that’s when I started working out from home.  There are so many options available to you to make this happen.  Choose some workout videos or subscribe to Beachbody OnDemand where you can stream your workout (Hello!  Netflix for workouts!).  Pintrest… yes, Pintrest has some great workouts for you to pin and do.  Find something you love and do it!  

Use “pockets of time” to your advantage.  Christina Wiley, author of Juggling Real Food and Real Life, talks about using “pockets of time” – 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there – to prep real food for healthy meals.  I love that idea, and I also love applying it to physical activity and exercise.  Identify times when you tend to sit and wait, and use those times to get up and move.  One of the best times to do this is during children’s sports practices.  Never sit on the bleachers during soccer or football practice!  Instead, get up and walk.  During games, walk before the game and at half-time.  Do the same thing during your children’s indoor practices or lessons, even if it means walking around the block.  According to the Physical Activity Guidelines, even 10 minutes of activities such as brisk walking provide health benefits, so never pass up an opportunity to walk instead of sit for 10 or 15 minutes! 

• Bundle physical activity into other activities.  Get in the habit of adding physical activity to things you’re already planning to do.  For example, get coffee with a friend and walk and talk, rather than sitting and talking.  Take a family bike ride and then stop for ice cream, rather than just going out for ice cream.  Or add physical activity to a date with your husband.   Get in the habit of viewing your activities through the “lens” of adding something that helps you get up and move.

 Many women struggle to set aside 30 or 40 minutes, 4 or 5 days a week, for exercise.  If you can do that some days, your mind and body will thank you.  But when you can’t, look for ways to squeeze physical activity into your day.  Once you start to look for those opportunities, you’ll be surprised where you find them. 

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