Finding the Time: How Workout with a Busy Schedule
By Emily Flournoy
In the busiest seasons of your life, it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day. There can be so many moving pieces that it can make you feel overwhelmed or suffocated. When you’re fatigued, drained and stressed you don’t even want to think about working out. Well, maybe this will make you reconsider.
First, let’s look at the why. Why should you exercise?
You often hear about people working out for the physical benefits, such as lowering their cholesterol levels, lowering their blood pressure, managing their weight and keeping their heart healthy, but exercise can actually improve your cognitive functions as well.
There are studies that show working out can improve your concentration, enhance creativity, lower stress levels, improve your memory, protect against neurodegeneration, promote better sleep, reduce stress, depression, anxiety and much more. In turn, this actually improves how successful you are in work and school.
When you work out, your body creates more serotonin, endorphins and dopamine. These neurotransmitters help boost your mood leaving you more energetic and motivated. When you have more energy, you are able to accomplish more throughout your day and sleep better at night.
Where do you find the time to exercise?
The problem with that question is that finding time is difficult, and it often doesn’t end up sticking because it doesn’t factor in consistency. When you find the time, you look at the gaps in your schedule.
For example, “I have 45 minutes after work before dinner is served. I will just go then”. It sounds great in theory, but what happens when you run into traffic, you have to pick up someone from school, the plumber is coming to the house or anything in your schedule changes at that time?
The reality of it is that you just don’t end up going.
When you make the time to work out, you prioritize your schedule in a way that doesn’t make exercise an option. It makes it a part of your routine that you have to schedule your free time around.
Despite popular belief that you need to be in the gym for a couple hours to get a good workout in, you can actually do it in 30-45 minutes. HITT workouts, or high intensity interval training workouts, can best be used to optimize your time at home or in the gym. They are effective, get your blood flowing, get your heart rate up and help you get a good exercise in for the day.
Here are some ways that you can make time in your busy schedule to exercise:
1. Set a limit for how much screen time you can have per day
According to an article by the Washington Post, people spend an average of 3.5 hours a day on their phones. During quarantine this number has been drastically rising especially among the younger generations. According to the Kaiser Family Foundations, kids 8-18 spend about 7.5 hours on their phone a day.
That amount of time can be replaced with time at the gym, the field, on the court or on a hiking trail.
2. Be intentional with your time
Instead of waking up and laying in your bed, get up and get your day started. If you place value on your time, you’ll start to see how much precious time you actually waste.
Resting is not the same as wasting time. Learned mentalities lately are, “sleep is for the weak”, “hustle hard” and “on my grind”. These may seem positive but not if you’re so busy that your ignoring your mental and physical health. They can run you into the ground until you feel the effects of your exhaustion. Learn your body and know when you need a break and how to take one.
3. Get an accountability partner
When you don’t have accountability, it is easier to decide to lay on the couch instead of exercising. No one knows that you did or didn’t work out. No one can give you that extra push you may need that day to go and no one can remind you why you started. (Consider joining Alexis’ accountability Facebook group)
4. Get a planner
Ask yourself what your priorities are. A planner can help you prioritize your week. When you plan ahead, you have more time to schedule around things that pop up during the week. A visual of your schedule may help you be more consistent in the gym.
5. Learn productivity at the gym
If you are studying, reading or listening to something for work or school, and you can’t take a break, do it while on an exercise bike. This way you are killing two birds with one stone. Some blood flow while studying can keep your brain active.
Finding time to work out while on busy schedule can seem like an impossible challenge when you don’t know where to start, but when you take the first step to prioritize it in your schedule, your goals become more feasible to you.