12 Ways to Incorporate Fitness into a Busy Life
Ever catch a glimpse of someone running or cycling by and wish you had the motivation, strength, or dedication to do the same? It takes some work and commitment, but you absolutely can. By May 2020, you could easily be walking, running or cycling in the Best Buddies Challenge with us. Everyone has to start somewhere, and we have plenty of time, even for absolute beginners. Read on for 12 tips.
1.) CHANGE YOUR MINDSET. Before anything else, promise yourself you’ll ditch the excuses. Think about all of the benefits of exercise: improved mood, less anxiety, more energy, weight loss, strong muscles and bones, a boost in your immune system, increased productivity, clearer skin, better memory, better quality of sleep, and so on. You’ve heard it all before, but a reminder of the many positives never hurts when you need a good reason to brush the excuses aside.
2.) START SMALL. If you head out for a 30 minute run after having not exercised for half a year, you’ll likely end up injured or frustrated. Ease yourself in. If you’ve been living a very sedentary life, even a 10-15 minute walk is a worthwhile start. Check in with yourself and your current fitness level and set a goal that’s a slight push without being overwhelming.
3.) FORM A HABIT. Once you’ve made the start, even a small one, the next goal is to turn it into a habit. You’ll read all sorts of statistics on how long it takes to form a habit, but scientifically there really is no magic number. A good estimate may be around two months, but everyone is different. The main point is to find creative ways to motivate yourself through the first few months that will likely be the biggest challenge.
4.) JUST MOVE. There have been many different studies recently that link long periods of continuous sitting to an early death. You may have heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking.” Even if you do exercise, the statistics still ring true if you’re then going on to sit for hours at a time. So make sure you get up and move around for five minutes every once in a while, preferably every 30 minutes, even if it’s just stretching or going to refill your water.
5.) MAKE SMALL CHANGES. Keep movement on your mind and you’ll find it easier to remember to incorporate it into your day. Take the stairs, hop off the bus or train a stop earlier, park in the furthest parking spot, don’t eat lunch at your desk, do a bit of stretching or jumping jacks every time you wait for the kettle to boil or the coffee to brew, take a phone call while you’re walking instead of sitting at your desk.
6.) INTEGRATE FITNESS. Look at your day and see where you can make slightly bigger changes that will add up over time toward your fitness goals. Cycle or walk to work if you can; no matter how you get there, you have to go, so may as well spend it doing something good for your body and mind instead of dealing with the stress of traffic and crowded public transportation. If the situation allows for it, consider taking a meeting outdoors and walking while talking rather than sitting in a meeting room.
7.) WAKE UP EARLIER. If you regularly hit the snooze button, or even if you don’t, it’s likely you can wake up 15 minutes or even half an hour earlier to go out for a short walk, run, or cycle before work. If you can’t, consider going first thing when you arrive home. There are amazing benefits to starting your day with exercise, but it can also promote relaxation and help you process your day and fall asleep quicker.
8.) SIGN UP FOR A CLASS. If self motivation isn’t your forte, sign up for a class. Once you’ve paid for it and it’s in your calendar week after week, it’s much harder to skip it. Most classes only run for 30-45 minutes, and you’ll find many gyms, yoga centers, and other fitness facilities do cater to the before and after work crowds with early morning and evening classes.
9.) SPEED UP YOUR CHORES. Turn your everyday chores into workout sessions. If you’re vacuuming, do it with more enthusiasm. If you’re going to the post office, walk, run, or cycle instead of drive. If you’re going to the corner store to pick up milk, do the same. If you’re cooking, do a few calf raises while the water boils. Washing windows? Do it with gusto!
10.) WEAR A FITNESS TRACKER. Psychologically, a fitness tracker can be a great motivator. You’re not competing against anyone else (unless you’re posting progress on social media), but you’re seeing your own progress. Even a basic pedometer can make a difference to your mindset, and you can get fitness trackers that will show you everything from calories burned to distance traveled to heart rate and sleep. There are also apps for fitness that are especially useful for beginners.
11.) HAVE AN ACCOUNTABILITY BUDDY. If you have a friend who is also looking for motivation to incorporate fitness into a busy life, team up and hold each other accountable with daily texts or calls or, if you can, run or cycle together. It’s easier to change your own behavior when you have the ripple effect. Be sure to celebrate your small and big wins together along the way.
12.) MAKE A COMMITMENT. Whether it’s joining the MTeam to participate in the Best Buddies Challenge in May 2020—cycling 20, 50 or 100 miles or running or walking 5k—or signing up to another big event, having a set goal and a deadline will be an effective way to motivate yourself to move more.