We know we need to take care of ourselves, but in the shuffle of activities and responsibilities, that can easily fall by the wayside.Yet exercise is a great stress reliever and a good way to insert some balance in our lives. So how can we find the time to squeeze in exercise? Here are a few tips that work for me.
1) Find an activity you can do as a family. Do you all have bikes? Go on a bike ride in the neighborhood once or twice a week. Hitch the bikes to the car and head to a state park with bike trails. Instill a love for activity in your children as they join you in the activity. Find family fun runs that you can train and participate in as a family. Take the dog for walks as a family or a couple.
2) Vary your activity. Your body can become fatigued and your mind bored if you do the same thing all the time. So vary the activity from running to yoga to bike riding to swimming to workout videos. Invest in a variety of videos with a variety of time commitment. Some days you only have 20 minutes, but with the right video you can still have a great workout. I just purchased a new series because they are designed to be 15 minutes workouts. I’m shocked how sweaty and sore I can get in that time frame, but I have no excuse not to exercise when I can do it in a short spurt. Other times I want to hit one area of my body with some extra attention, so I found a pilates video that allows me to choose which areas to hit in 5-8 minute segments. Utilizing a variety of videos and magazine workouts also keeps me interested and engaged. Sometimes it feels like I’m returning to an old favorite, other times it’s the challenge of a new workout. Each time, my body gets the benefit of moving and exercise.
3) Remember to stretch afterward. This can be an easy step to skip, but if you don’t stretch you will experience extra soreness the next day which can make you less likely to exercise in the future. And I’m not talking about the good sore that comes from targeting muscles and knowing you’ve done something. It seems so simple and unnecessary, but you’ll thank me if you stretch.
4) Find an activity you can do with someone else during a season you otherwise wouldn’t exercise. For me this means that my husband and I train for the Indianapolis 500 Mini-Marathon each winter/spring and then run it together. We’ve done this for five years and it’s just become a part of our year. We’ve decided our definition of fun is very warped! I love it because it keeps me moving in the winter by giving a whole new meaning to deadline — 13.1 miles can’t just be whipped out (at least by me!). And it makes it more enjoyable to run the race together. Some years I’m pushing him, other years he’s pushing me, but all the time we’re encouraging each other.
5) Set stretch goals. Try a mini-marathon. It really is possible to go from no activity to running a mini in 3 months (Ask me how I know!) Use tools like Hal Higdon’s training schedules to get you there. There is a great sense of satisfaction in doing something you had to work hard to achieve.
6) Realize how interconnected your muscles are. Did you know that lower back pain can be caused by tight hamstrings? Stretching can help alleviate much of that and make exercise more fun and less painful.
7) Choose to live a lifestyle that focuses on activity. Are there stairs? Take those rather than the elevator. Even if you’re panting at the top, that burst of exercise is better than the alternative of none. Push the lawnmower rather than ride one. Turn an activity into a squat or a lunge.
It doesn’t have to be difficult to find time to add exercise to your life. You just have to commit to doing it. What do you do to incorporate it into your life?
This month my novel A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island is on sale for 99 cents in eformats. It’s a great time to try this contemporary romantic mystery set on beautiful Mackinac Island. I call it a vacation without the stress of getting there!