Life’s busy – for most of us. I’ve no doubt that most people I know have felt overwhelmed with life at some point in the last few months, me included. Work, commuting, life admin, family, friends…we feel pressure to ‘do it all’, but that’s actually pretty difficult. There are only so many hours in the day, right?
On top of all that, you’re meant to be looking after your health and keeping fit. Current guidelines suggest that the average adult should engage in at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. That should include moderate and vigorous aerobic activity, plus well-rounded strength work (oh, and you also need to eat 7 portions of fruit and vegetables today, eat plenty of protein and reduce your sugar intake…but that’s a topic for another day).
With so many priorities, it’s easy to let exercise slip to the bottom of the list, but guess what – prioritising your fitness isn’t selfish, it’s necessary.
Why you should prioritise exercise:
- Reduced risk of major illness (heart disease, diabetes and cancer are a lot more inconvenient than a 30 minute workout each day, wouldn’t you say?).
- Avoid, or escape, obesity (one in four adults in the is UK now classed as obese and at risk of serious illness and disease, with reduced life expectancy and quality of life. Don't add to the statistics - take responsibility for your health now).
- Stronger bones, joints and muscles = reduced risk of injury (could you fulfil your current to do list with a broken arm or leg?).
- Exercise contributes towards good mental health (it reduces stress, lowers the risk of depression and anxiety, and can help manage symptoms of mental illness or distress where they occur).
- You are, likely, inactive. Sitting for prolonged periods is bad for our health. Simply...YOU NEED TO MOVE.
OK – so you know exercise is important. You need to do it. But how do you find the time?
1. Identify your goals.
‘Keeping fit,’ ‘getting strong’ and ‘losing weight’ are unspecific and unhelpful when planning your exercise routine. Identify specific goals that contribute towards your health and your motivation.
Want to run 5k in a specific time, or prepare for a race? Add weight to your deadlift, or improve your technique in the snatch? Lose 10lbs? Complete 100 burpees faster than your bestie?
Once you’ve identified your goals, it’s easier to identify the type of exercise you need to do and the amount of time you’ll need to allocate for it. Not sure what you're aiming for? Then plan for variety, and switch it up when you get bored. Speak to your local PT if you're not sure what's best for you.
2. Use a diary. Schedule EVERYTHING. How many hours did you spend scrolling social media last week? Or watching crap TV?
Maybe you have a diary for work – but scheduling your whole week can drastically increase your productivity, highlight the amount of time you’re wasting on mindless tasks, and help you to find exercise-friendly gaps in your week. Fill out a diary and stick to it. Include travel, time for chores and daily admin, then allocate time for exercise. You’ll be more likely to stick to it, and probably realise you had more time than you thought all along.
3. Find a class you’ll enjoy & pre-book. ‘I need to exercise more...but I hate running… I hate the gym…I can't stick with anything, I get so bored’..........sound familiar? Commit to finding something you enjoy. Experiment until you find ‘your thing’. Classes are the ideal way to do this. You don’t need to plan your session – just turn up, follow instructions, burn calories. There’s the added social benefit too – you’ll meet new people, and become accountable to the instructor, encouraging your continued commitment. If you pre-book, you’ve already committed your money so are less likely to cancel, and scheduling this into your diary means you’re more likely to turn up and get the work done!
4. Book time with a Personal Trainer. If you’ve got specific goals but aren’t sure where to start when it comes to training for them (or perhaps aren't sure what the best goals are for you at all) your local PT can help. If you’ve not got time to plan your training, or aren’t completely confident using different equipment or executing different movements, they can help you there too. Exercise can be daunting and easy to get wrong. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but a personal trainer can deal with the planning for you – you just need to turn up, ready to work. You’ll know you’re doing the most appropriate training for your specific needs and goals, and likely see faster progression than trying to go it alone. Plus, you’re accountable. Your PT wants you to progress as much as you do – once you know they’re invested in you, you’ll want to show up to every session!
Need some flexibility, short on budget, or prefer to train alone? Speak to your PT about remote programming for specific training with fewer constraints. 5. Strapped for time? App it. Only got a 20 minute gap on Tuesday evening? No time to travel to the gym? Grab your phone, head to YouTube or download one of the thousands of fitness apps available. Find a short HIIT circuit or yoga flow and get it done. You don’t need to exercise for hours at a time. Make the most of small gaps in your day and MOVE. 6. “Fail to prepare…” Scheduled your week? Now, prepare. It’ll save you time and ensure you keep to task. Pack tomorrow’s gym bag - you won’t forget your trainers in the morning rush, and can head straight to your class from work. Prep tomorrow’s meals, even just breakfast. You could set your alarm a little later, eat on the move, and spend less time in the kitchen (more time available to move and live your life...why wouldn’t you?).