Fitting in exercise is one that many of us struggle with, I know I do. The main obstacle I find is overcoming the feeling that it’s a must-do. Exercise should be something we want to do. Finding enjoyment in exercise is definitely key, especially if we want it to become part of our daily routine. I know during busy weeks, fitting in exercise falls by the wayside. But there are ways to incorporate into the day, so it doesn’t feel like one more thing to make time for.
We know the benefits of fitting in exercise for our mental wellbeing. Just twenty minutes a day can be enough to release those endorphins, make us feel happier, feel less stressed and sleep better. The benefits are endless both physically and emotionally. The NHS recommends 150 minutes a week (just over twenty minutes a day). The more we feel the gains, the more likely we are to keep going!
Here are some tips to help get started if fitting in exercise is a struggle:
Start the day earlier
I know this might seem a drag at first. But setting your alarm for just thirty minutes earlier can provide the time you need to build exercise into your routine. It won’t eat into your day. And, if you’re already committed to fitting in exercise then there’s no better and more positive way to start the day. You don’t need to do this every day, start every other and build from there. The time has to be allocated somewhere and this way it won’t eat into your schedule. You’ll also begin the day in the best possible head space. You can use this time to do a 20-minute workout, go for a run outside, weights, whatever it is, you won’t regret it afterwards.
Use your lunch break
If you’re like me, the more the day passes the more unlikely I am to exercise. It’s all about the mornings for me, or lunchtime is my second (and sometimes mentally final window) in terms of motivation. Instead of staying sat at your desk, get up and get moving. You could go for a brisk walk or a run, or fit in a twenty-minute HIITT workout, have a little swim, take a walk in nature, or book in a gym class (so you stay committed). It’s a fabulous way to reboot your day’s energy levels, feel good, and the best part is that you won’t have to give up your evening when you’re more likely to drop it.
Aim for your 10,000 steps
Being aware of how much you walk in a day is a great way to get started with exercise. Your smartphone can work out your steps very easily. Instead of jumping in the car every time you need to go somewhere, if it’s relatively local, walk. If you commute on public transport for work, get off one or two stops earlier and walk to your final destination. You’ll feel good for taking in nature, getting some fresh air and moving. If you need to walk the dog, go for that little bit longer and get those steps in.
Exercise with a friend
This is one of my favourite ways for fitting in exercise. It’s perfect because you don’t have to rely on your own motivation, it’s made more fun by enjoyable company and you can’t bail with someone else in the mix. It also works two-fold as you can catch up and be distracted from the job in hand. You can motivate each other and will probably push that little bit harder with a good pal by your side. You’ll feel like you can do more and are more likely to stay committed. Knowing your friend won’t run or go swimming unless it’s a date will ensure you stick to the plan.
Form the habit
This one can be really tough, but you want fitting in exercise to be part of your daily/weekly routine for the foreseeable, not just a flash in the pan for a few weeks as the summer approaches. Starting slow is key to this. If you set your alarm early every day, after a few weeks, you’re probably going to be less motivated and become tired. Don’t focus on the results you’re hoping for initially. It’s about exercise becoming a habit that will last and this will take a few months to achieve. So, mix timings up, see what works for you best and maybe focus on exercise every other day initially but on the non-full exercise days, just keep walking. Once you work out what you enjoy and can tap into that, fitting in exercise will become easier and feel less of a chore.
Starting is the hardest part, so start small and figure out what your best times are. Every effort counts, whether it is walking, housework, or exercising at home. To keep moving, you just need to get your mindset on board. We can do it together. Good luck!