How to fit exercise into a busy life
In 2017 I ran ten marathons in ten days in aid of the international animal welfare charity Brooke, raising almost £20,000 (including Gift Aid).
I love running, but it wasn’t always that way.
My challenge for 2015 was to run 2015 miles in the year!
Initially, I thought I would go it alone but the reality of running on average 5.5 miles/day was a little unrealistic given everything else I wanted to achieve that year, so I teamed up with my cousin and together we shared the mileage. I knew that teaming up with someone else would give me the inspiration and motivation I needed when it got hard.
The next consideration was how to fit it in with everything else that was going on, and this is a question I get frequently asked by others; they want to exercise more but they don’t have the time to do it, there aren’t enough hours in the day!
We all know the benefits of exercise, are aware that it’s something we ‘should’ be doing but do you realise just how beneficial it really is?
For instance, did you know that spending just 30 minutes exercising every other day can raise your IQ, relieve stress, make you happier, more confident. more productive and boost your energy levels? The positive effects on you both personally and professionally can be dramatic.
It’s all well and good knowing the benefits of exercise, but with so many other demands on our time and our energy, fitting it in is often where the challenge lies. It’s important though to keep focused on the positives, the time and energy spent doing exercise is paid back time and again by the benefits you will reap.
There are lots of studies reporting the best way to exercise, how long and to what intensity to gain the best results. However, most experts agree that 2.5 hours of exercise per week will give you your best results.
So how can you fit it in?
1. Get up early
This one works for me. Getting up an hour earlier so you can get out for your walk, run, swim, yoga (whatever suits you best), means you are done before breakfast. There’s nothing like the feeling of running with the sun rising (maybe a little harder to achieve in the dark mornings) and whatever time of year it’s a perfect way to start your day. A tip is to get your clothes ready the night before so it’s literally a matter of getting up and out when the alarm goes off. If it’s hard getting out of bed, keep focused on the positives and how you feel as you come back through the door ready for your breakfast.
Studies have shown that people who get up and exercise first thing in the morning are more likely to stick with it. Another benefit is that exercising early in the day boosts your metabolism for the next few hours, allowing you to burn more calories throughout the day. Win-win!
2. Exercise at lunch
“But I don’t have a lunch break”, I hear you shout! Without breaks you will be working less effectively and less productively, taking longer to do things and getting more stressed along the way, so you need a break!
So now you are taking your lunch break… rather than sitting down or remaining at your desk. Go for a quick walk outside. Mid-day walks can help boost your metabolism, relieve stress and allow you to focus better when you return to work. It will also enable you to do something for yourself within your busy working day, which in itself is satisfying.
3. Use the stairs
Whenever possible, choose the stairs rather than the lift or escalator. Simple but effective.
4. Park further away
Do you really need to be that close to the shop? Could you park 5 minutes away and walk the rest? These additional walks can really add up over time.
5. Stand when you can
When you are phoning clients or talking to friends, stand or walk around the room (if using your mobile!) rather than sitting. You will not only burn more calories but also be more focused on what is being said.
6. Sit on an exercise ball
Great for the core, swap your normal chair for a ball. The constant moving and small adjustments in your posture really help strengthen and improve your core strength.
7. Set goals
You don’t need to run 2015 or 2021 miles! But set some realistic goals that work for you. Find something that excites you, is it a challenge, an event or a daily action? Sign up with a friend; mutual support and motivation is excellent especially when motivation begins to lag.
8. Make it easy
In the past, I always equated exercise as going to the gym. Since having my children, I realised I had to change this. Now no matter where I am in the world all I need is my trainers and off I go. It can be so easy.
9. Make routines
Rather than waiting for time to come available in your diary to exercise, ask yourself when could I do it and what needs to be put in place to enable me to do it, then make some routines and book that time in with yourself.
10. Exercise with a friend and make it fun
Exercise makes you feel good, it can be fun, find something that you love to do, go out and enjoy it!
I wouldn’t say I am a natural runner but the freedom running gives me is exhilarating, it is my constant partner and a tool I use to help me cope with the pressures I work and live with.
Remember exercise doesn’t have to be intense or prolonged to have a positive effect on your life. So find something that works for you, make a routine and start reaping the benefits in 2021.