Finding time to exercise.
Updated: May 14, 2021
Following on from our blog post on ‘Motivation for Taking Exercise’, here at VitxCycle we've been having a think about how easy (or not) it is, to fit an exercise regium into a modern busy life. I passionately believe people shouldn’t have to choose between work and exercise/health and that it is possible to fit exercise into anyones routine to ensure that person can achieve their exercise goals, stay healthy, have personal time and still have time for work.
Even at a time when ‘the commute’ seems a distant memory and we have limited options as to how we spend our free time, fitting exercise into a weekly routine can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.
One of the interesting pieces of data coming from a subscriber questionnaire we ran last year, was the high number of participants who weren’t doing the level of exercise they wanted to because of “not having enough time”, but why is this?
“Too busy” is the curse of the modern world, you hear it all the time. Too busy to meet up, too busy to do exercise, too busy to do that DIY job at home, too busy to go on holiday (yes we’ve heard of people who’ve cut short or cancelled family holidays as they were too busy at work)….. WTF!!!!! In our experience work is normally the reason given for not having time to do anything other than the life essentials of eat, sleep and family time (which can also suffer), so if your work life is so hectic how do you ensure you can fit exercise into your life and get all the benefits associated with doing regular exercise?
From my own experiences this is going to take a mixture of challenging your mind set, getting organised and setting targets/finding the motivation to exercise even if you don’t quite feel it on any given day.
To help change our mindset it can be helpful if we first change how we view time. Instead of seeing it as something we fill with activity (work, play, family time etc) and we view it as a finite resource, a currency if you will, which we get to choose how it’s spent, might this alter how we ‘spend’ our time?
It is every individual’s choice how they spend that time, of course work is going to take a chunk of that time in return for your salary, but what about the time outside of the working day, your spare time? Knowing time is finite would that change your decision to watch that repeat on TV or play that game on your phone rather than spend it with our loved ones, doing some exercise or a hobby you love?
Take a look at your diary, and if you don’t have one, get one! as keeping a diary helps spot available time which could productively be used for exercise. By physically entering time to exercise into your diary it creates a commitment to yourself and so you’re more likely to stick to the schedule you’ve set yourself.
If you’re like us and have kids (if you don’t have kids then there really isn’t an excuse about lack of time, ask any parent and they will tell you that before kids they didn’t realise how much free time they actually had!), then being organised is the only way you can ensure everyone is where they need to be, when they need to be there. Between work, school, nursery, gymnastics, swimming, Beavers, tennis, squash, MTB lessons and all the other extracurricular activities children do, it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. But there are still opportunities there to exercise, do you have to watch your kid do their swimming lesson every week or could you jump into the pool too and do lengths or bring your trainers and go for a run? There’s 30 minutes of exercise right there!
If you’ve got kids and are someone who likes/needs a bigger chunk of time (+2hrs) to do your exercise (basically anyone reading this blog!), then consider making a deal with your partner on childcare. They can have one weekend morning for themselves (to exercise, have a lie in, me time etc) while you look after the kid/s and then you can have the other morning to go for that long run/ride out. You can even bring a healthy level of competition into the arrangement, seeing your other-half exercise can spur you on to do the exercise you’ve committed to doing and vice-versa. I know it works for me and Mrs VitxCycle!
Fitting exercise into your weekly routine is key to finding that extra exercise time, if you can be thinking “how can I make the best of this situation” it will help you come up with other opportunities to exercise during your week. Can you incorporate a run/cycle into your commute for example, or use the commute time when working from home to exercise rather doing more work?
Now with the shift towards more home/flexible work, it’s important to put that lunch hour in the diary so it can be used for you to……..actually eat lunch away from the laptop, getting away from those back to back video calls and it might even give you an opportunity for a walk/run/cycle/turbo….
Exercise in its rawest form doesn’t need a target, however I find having something to strive for helps when it comes to motivation. You can set targets around the number of steps you do, number of active minutes, number of activities done, how fast you can run 5km, the weight you want to be or by entering an event (marathon, sportive etc) which you’ll need to train for. If you’re on STRAVA there are any number of target/challenges you can test yourself against. By doing this you have something to work towards and you’re more likely to hit a target if you have one in the first place!
And once you hit your target don’t forget to reward yourself, coupling a reward with a specific target is a powerful motivator. You always need new kit! And there’s always n+1 (basically a new bike for those who’ve not come across n+1 before) when you’ve really smashed it?!?
Find your Motivation
So you’ve got your exercise in the diary, you’ve got your target and are going to reward yourself with a big plate of your favourite (healthy) food or even a new bike….. but you’re still not 100% there!
It’s time to talk about the real motivation behind why we want to exercise. Finding one core reason which is dear to us can be the difference between getting out there or staying on the sofa.
For me, my motivation is deeply personal and simple. I say to myself if I’m just not feeling it,
“I want to see my children grow up and be as fit and healthy for them, for as long as I possibly can.”
So if you want to exercise more, find your core motivation, keep this front of mind and put a framework in place that gives you the time and opportunity to exercise and you will hit your targets.
You’ve got this.