How to Find the Time to Exercise and Be Healthier

Feel like there's never enough time in the day to get things done? You're not alone.

It seems like that clock is always running out of time. Most days seem to leave us with just enough time to brush our teeth, go to work, eat, tuck the kids in to bed, maybe watch some Marvel show on Netflix and then go back to sleep again...am I right? Fitting exercise into that day...what, are you crazy? There's no way I can find the time for that... Only insane people do that, right?

Maybe.

But maybe it's more than that. Maybe we spend our 24 hours each and every day on what is most important to us, and those insane people truly prioritize exercise and healthy habits. Maybe, if you did an [honest] audit of every single minute in your day, you would see a beautiful collage of your priorities - good [intentional] times with the fam, diligent and productive hours spent at work, homecooked meals every night and absolutely no leftover time for anything else to fit in. But maybe, if you did an [honest] audit of every single minute in your day, you would see something else entirely - and could scarf up 30-45 minutes that you could assign to exercise or improve your health in other ways.

Please know that I'm not calling anyone out. This is a huge struggle of mine, both in the past and present. While I was spending 35 hours in class and another 35 studying like a madman for my Doctor in Physical Therapy (DPT), working 15-ish hours per week as a personal trainer and research assistant, and then going home to my beautiful wife and 1 year-old daughter - I felt like there was no hope for finding time to exercise at all, let alone exercise the way I wanted to. But I realized something when I did a brutally honest time-audit one day after reading Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People... I was wasting a lot of my 24 hours on stuff that was both unimportant and not meaningful to my true priorities in life. I realized that there was actually, even in the heat of an insane DPT-student lifestyle, a LOT of unassigned time that I could give meaning to. And while it's still really hard sometimes for me to make time for exercise, it's worth it 100% of the time.

We invest enormous amounts of time and money into maintaining our cars, homes, iPhones, computers...

We invest a lot into our STUFF; But what about our SELF?

Are you willing to take an honest look at the time available in your day for the sake of your health and wellness? Is being healthy, living an active lifestyle, and moving without pain important to you ... I mean is it really? I think for most people, the answer is yes.

And while I can't change how many hours there are in a day, I'd love to give you 6 things to tweak that will help make the most of the time that you do have:


(1) Time of Day

Even if getting fit is at the top of your priority list, life still gets in the way. There's "no time" in the middle of your day for a workout, and you don't want to have to go back to work as a sweaty mess... I totally get it.

But there are still 24 hours in every single day. If you are struggling with this concept, then I suggest you consider building  your gym-time, walking, yoga sessions, home exercises, into either the beginning or end of your day. Believe me, I'm not a morning person (just ask my wife). But I have learned that even on my busiest of days, if I can wake up a little earlier than normal and get in a workout before my day begins - I can seriously win with my fitness goals. Maybe a workout in the evening would be better for you? There is no "right time"; what matters is that you make it happen some time during your day. Check out what Gary Vaynerchuck has to say:

It's not about how much you sleep, it's what you do while you're awake.

(2) "One Thing a Day" Perspective

A lot of times, I find that small "failures" perpetuate discouragement... and usually that festers-ending up making me much less likely to make a choice in the right direction. Like when I've missed the gym for an entire month after having our second child, I felt less and less motivated to actually get to the gym for that first time back ... Have you ever been in that situation? It's sometimes hard to get out of that failure trap, isn't it?

So what's the solution to this? Get some small "wins". Turn the corner. Start the snowball. Try adopting a "do one thing per day" perspective. All you have to do is essentially establish that - AT A MINIMUM - you will do one thing for yourself today to make your life healthier. Wake up 10-15 minutes early and think about/look at the day you have ahead of you. What is ONE THING that you can do today to be healthier than yesterday? Let me get you started with some options:

  • Go to bed 1 hour earlier tonight to get more sleep.
  • Pick a vegetable instead of Cheetos as your side dish for lunch
  • Write your wife and kids a note telling them how much you appreciate and love them.
  • Stay out 45 minutes after work and go on a walk or hit the gym.
  • Actually remember your water bottle, take it to work, and drink the whole thing 3 times throughout your day.

You can't change your body composition in 2 days. You might not be able to hit a deadlift PR after practicing the movement only once. But a compounding effect of small wins absolutely can. Adopting a "do one thing per day" perspective can be really helpful at shifting your perspective on whether or not you're winning or losing at your wellness goals.


(3) Exercise Duration

Do you have to work out for 2 hours per day to get amazing results?

Absolutely not! Especially if you are just starting out, there are ways of leveraging small amounts of time into big amounts of results. Here are a couple of my favorites that I think you should check out:

Tabata Protocols

4 minutes. Yes, you read that right. 4 minutes! That's all the time a Tabata program takes: 8 rounds of exercise with 20 seconds of AMRAP (as many repetitions as possible) and 10 seconds REST. Click here for a great summary of Tabata protocols.

 

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT is a gold mine for those of you who hate spending countless hours on a bicycle or running/walking on a treadmill (that's me!). Cardiovascular exercise is an essential part of human wellness, and I generally always recommend that my patients and clients include "cardio" to some extent in their exercise plans. However, there are much more exciting ways of burning fat and shaping physique for the meat and potatoes of your workouts.

Click here for my favorite article on 'Cardio' thoughts and Interval Training by Meghan Callaway


(4) Goal-Setting

Wandering towards your wellness goal isn't very likely to get you there.

If you want to get to a destination, you need to know where you're going.

Write down your goals. Tape them to your work computer. Put them on the refrigerator at home. Tell a friend.

My best suggestion: start by Finding Your Why


(5) Accountability

My wellness clients typically hire me for one of two reasons:

  1. They need a jump start to their fitness and want someone external to their day-to-day life to guide them through exercise, nutrition, and good healthy lifestyle choices.
  2. They need accountability ; and they know that putting money on the line will make them more likely to follow through.

Getting in touch with a good physical therapist, personal trainer, or strength & conditioning coach can do wonders to get you results. Not only is it imperative to have someone coach you on the proper ways to perform each exercise, but you will find that a trainer or therapist's motivation will push you harder than you would push yourself when no one is looking...

Register for a 5K several months in advance, get some coaching from a local physical therapist or trainer, or tell your best friend that you'd like to lose ___ pounds by the end of the year. Accountability means putting something on the line for your wellness goals.


(6) Support System

This might be a one of the most important points of this article. Simply put, if your support system (your husband, wife, significant other, maybe even your mom & dad) doesn't SUPPORT your fitness, health, and wellness ambitions- you are already set up to fail. So make sure they're on board. If they're not, explain to them why it's important to you, because your loved ones can't support what they don't know or understand. Like anything else in life, it is so much easier to succeed when you have some people in your corner. A couple of pointers:

  • Your spouse, significant other, etc. is not a mind-reader. He or she has no psychic abilities. If you don't communicate why exercising is so important to you, then you don't really have the right to complain if you get resistance to the notion of using your free time in the evenings to hit the gym. 
  • Take ownership over your role in not prioritizing it enough up to this point. It's not your family's fault that you aren't going to the gym, so you probably shouldn't communicate in any way that it is...
  • Communicate with your support system using language such as, "I feel ..."; Your loved ones will be much more on board if they understand the depth and THE WHY to your situation.

Having your team completely on board with your goals can help sort out a host of logistical nightmares that might get in the way of you having time to work out, eat healthier, or whatever else is most important to your wellness goals.


I hope you're starting to see a theme with all of these points.

You're not going to "find the time"...
You have to make it.

And there's no better time than right now to get started.