We all have our reasons for not exercising. In this series of articles, let’s look at some of the most common obstacles people encounter when it comes to starting their own fitness journey.
Reason Number 1: “I don’t have enough time.”
One of the most difficult hurdles to overcome for anyone looking to begin exercising is simply starting.
Let’s face it. Life can get really busy really quickly. Between work, family, and social obligations (to name a few) so much activity can get crammed into one day that adding a workout can seem like an impossible task.
We get up, get ready, get the kids ready for school, go to work, pick up the kids, come home, eat dinner, play, put the kids to bed and collapse. Having a young family along with a full time job can be exhausting
However, I have found several ways around this dilemma that may just work for you.
The Early Bird – Working Out First Thing in the Morning
OK, don’t freak out.
This takes some discipline, not only to refrain from hitting the snooze button in the morning, but also to make sure you get to bed at a decent time the night before.
However, this has become my go-to method of getting exercise in and really only requires me getting up half an hour earlier than I normally would. There are several reasons I prefer the early morning.
- It’s quiet: I get distracted so easily sometimes. Whether it’s my wife, my kids, or any of the countless other things I do, there are a lot of things that can demand my attention.
However, when everyone is still sleeping, I can get up, put on my headphones and get my workout done with minimal distraction. It’s gotten to the point where it is almost therapeutic.
- You have the rest of the day:Doing your workout first thing in the morning means you are done for the rest of the day! No need to worry about fitting it in around work and kids, wondering if something is going to happen that will pull you away.
When you work out, you feel strong, and to start the day like that is so encouraging, energizing, and motivating. You start to feel a sense of accomplishment right out of the gate and are ready to meet the day head on.
But the Children – Involving the Kids in Your Healthy Choices
If you just can’t bring yourself to get up earlier, you can still reap the benefits of exercise even when the little ones are running around.
As parents, we all want to teach our children good habits that they can carry with them throughout their lives. They look to us to be their example for everything from how to talk, how to
handle situations, and how to take care of themselves. What better way to set them up for a healthy lifestyle than letting them join in the fun? There are a couple of ways to do this:
- Go for a family walk: Get out of the house and into the fresh air with a nice walk. If you have really young kids, put them in the stroller and get going!
For older ones, have a destination such as a local playground or park be the motivation for walking alongside you.
*As a side note, isn’t it amazing how kids can run around inside or in the backyard for hours, but when we ask them to go for a walk and they are tired within five minutes?
- Try to get them to join in: On days when I can’t work out first thing in the morning (i.e. Saturday, when I want to sleep in), I simply just work out with the little ones around.
Chances are, if they see me working out, they will ask questions and/or want to join in.
Either way, they are learning about and seeing healthy choices in action. It’s also not a sin to throw on a T.V. show or movie if you need some space or want to focus on the workout.
(This comes from personal experience of doing planks only to have my three-year-old son come running up with a big smile on his face, jumping on my back, and laughing hysterically as I collapse to the floor)
Social Media – Avoid the Bottomless Pit
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube.
No matter which one of the aforementioned platforms is your jam (in many cases it’s more than one, if not all the above), it is so easy to get sucked into the bottomless pit. You can scroll for hours and your feed will keep refreshing with new content to browse through.
YouTube automatically suggests another video as soon as the one you are watching ends. Notifications grab our attention every couple of seconds to the point where there are now memes of people at the gym, sitting on a bench, staring at their phones.
How much time do we spend mindlessly scanning through content instead of focusing on improving ourselves?
- Put limits on your scrolling: Social media is designed in such a way that you will never run out of material to look at. There will always be another story, another picture, another video to look at.
Before you know it, an hour has passed and you’re left wondering where the time went.
Try to discipline yourself to prioritize and put first things first. It takes will power to separate ourselves from media, but the benefit is tremendous.
Set a timer for five to ten minutes, scroll, and then focus on the workout. Maybe even make ten minutes of scrolling a reward saved for after you are done.
- Turn off your notifications: What may just be good practice in general, I’ve found, is absolutely key when working out.
The pings and message bubbles are designed to grab your attention and trigger chemicals in your brain that get you coming back for more again and again. This can be especially detrimental to a workout as some may stop what they are doing to read any and all notifications that pop up.
Do yourself a favor and turn them off, at least during the time you are taking to exercise.
Workout Length – Not As Long As You Might Think
One last issue you may have is thinking you need to put in hours of work every day to achieve the results you are looking for. It is true that the more time you put into it, the better and faster results you will see.
However, for those of us who have full schedules, there is hope. Though it is changing as more and more research is done, one standard recommendation is 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise to maintain health.
Now while that may seem like a lot, divide it by five and you are at a mere thirty minutes a day. And yes, that means take the weekend off.
If you do 30 minutes a day, six days a week, you are ahead of the curve. Positive body change and results can absolutely be seen with this amount of time put in. I have read several articles now that have even said it doesn’t need to be 30 minutes of continuous exercise, but can even be done in blocks of ten minutes.
Seems doable, right?
One More Thing – Don’t Put it Off Until the End of the Night
One solution that might seem viable to some is leaving exercise for the very end of the day, when everything else is done. While this may seem like a desirable thing, there are a couple of problems for nighttime exercise.
One of these is motivational, while the other is physical.
- You won’t do it: Chances are extremely high that by the end of the day, you are tired. When we are tired, it becomes that much harder to work up the motivation to get your workout in.
After a full day at the office (and/or for those with families, chasing after the kids and spending time with your spouse), it’s a pretty good bet that most people just want to unwind and relax with a book or watch the T.V.
When faced with the options, there is a very small chance exercise wins out, so it’s best to try to schedule it for earlier in the day, when motivation may be higher.
- Working out late can affect your quality of sleep: “Wait”, you may be asking, “I’m usually exhausted after a workout. Won’t I sleep better?”
Not necessarily. When you work out, your body gets amped up. Adrenaline is one of the hormones that helps you get through your physical activity and it takes a while for that to calm down.
Exercise right before bed can actually wake you up and rob you of the sleep you desperately need to recover from the day.
There is Time – We Just Need to Make It
With some thought, time is something we have more of than we think. Devoting that time toward your own health and fitness is one of the best things you can do for yourself and those around you.
Making time for exercise takes discipline and learning about yourself, but it can be done. Hopefully, this article has presented you with some options that may not have crossed your mind and can help you overcome the obstacle of “time”.
What do you think? Leave some feedback in the comments! I’d love to hear about your own struggles and victories with making time for exercise as well as what some of your best strategies for finding the time to work out are!