How often do you tell yourself that you’d get exercise if you only had time to fit it in?
How often do you tell yourself that you’d just eat more if you only had more time?
Most of us instinctively “have” time to eat. Sure, sometimes you’re having a really busy day and you forgot to pack your lunch. Chances are, even then, you’ll find something to eat (even if it’s a package of orange peanut butter crackers from the machine).
My point is that we normally eat when we need to, several times during the day. Overall, we generally have a plan: there are snacks in the refrigerator and pantry, and the basic ingredients for dinners and lunches are on hand. When it’s time to pack a lunch or begin dinner, and when we need (or crave) a snack in between, we know that we can take a few minutes to attend to our need for nourishment.
Exercise, on the other hand, is most often considered a single, large and even an overwhelming event. It’s the equivalent of Thanksgiving dinner relative to the rest of the day. We plan, schedule, and prepare for it.
When will I work out? how long will my meeting last before that? will I have time to shower and do my makeup? I’d better double check my bag so I don’t forget a pair of socks…
If I had to deliver a Thanksgiving feast every day, I’d get tired of it, it would likely get pretty sloppy after awhile, and I guarantee I’d be avoiding it within a few weeks.
I like to look at exercise the same way. For many, having a routine of working out at certain times during the week becomes a framework for days and weeks. Unfortunately, for many others, exercise is one of the first sacrifices to a busy or distracted life. Luckily, exercise isn’t offended easily. It will work for you whenever you have time for it; it doesn’t demand your undivided attention for long stretches.
There is good evidence that fitting several shorter bouts of exercise into your day can be just as effective as a single longer workout. Taking a break to walk up and down the stairs in your building or take a brisk walk outside with a co-worker is working toward the 30 minutes recommended that we try to reach in a day. Phone calls are opportunities to stand up and stretch your legs, or even to pick up one foot and squat a few inches on the other leg. At home, squeezing in a few inclined pushups at the kitchen counter while you’re waiting for the pasta water to boil will feel great.
Don’t worry; your co-workers and family, far from mocking you, might even be inspired to join you! Just move. You’ll feel better, and soon they’ll notice your added energy throughout the day. You’ll still need to make sure you get good quality exercise. Moving around at work counts for a lot, but one walk around the building doesn’t give you a free pass for the rest of the day. Once you establish the habit of being intentional about fitting in your exercise throughout the day, you’ll wonder why you ever avoided those workouts.
Easy ways to sneak in a quick exercise session during your day could include: