There are ways to exercise on a busy schedule!
By now, you know how important physical activity is for lowering your risk for type 2 diabetes. People who get in at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity can lower diabetes risk by over 50%. But who has time to exercise for 30 minutes, 5 days a week, totaling 2.5 hours each week? You might!
You may remember some ways to make time for exercise that were in the Lark DPP Mission, “Find Time for Fitness.” Here are 10 strategies that busy people can use to find time for exercise.
Learn the truth. Do you really know where the time goes? Try keeping track of what you do for a day or two. Write down every single thing you do, and when you do it. You may be surprised to see how much time you waste by pausing between tasks or spending time on activities, such as reading social media posts, that you do not really care about. You may be spending more time in front of a computer, TV, or phone screen than you thought. Those wasted minutes could become your exercise time.
Break it up. There is no cause for concern if you cannot scrape together 30 minutes at a time for your workout if you have a busy schedule. You can get the same benefits if you add up 10 minutes of exercise, three times a day. Some possible pockets of time that may work are 10 minutes before work, 10 minutes while on break, 10 minutes at lunch, 10 minutes before you leave work, or 10 minutes after dinner. Fortunately, the Lark app tracks your time for you so you don’t have to watch the clock and add your time at the end of the day.
Multitask. In most cases, multitasking reduces productivity. In the case of exercise, it may increase it. See if you can walk whenever you are talking on the phone, whether or not at work. You may be able to use a stationary bicycle or treadmill while watching television, or periodically do calisthenics or use a kettlebell to keep your heart rate up while doing household chores.
Incorporate it into life. Make exercise part of life. Get in the habit of parking far away, getting off a stop early from the bus or metro, or walking for several minutes between when you park your car and when you enter the building. Consider doing chores on foot, and brisk walk extra around the mall or store before you start your serious shopping.
Have quality family time. If you are lucky enough to have children of any age, you have a built-in exercise excuse. Take babies for stroller walks, do squats while pushing them on the swing, and use them (safely) as weights when squatting, doing lunges, or lifting them overhead. Play actively with toddlers and older children, whether they are into hide-and-seek or basketball. If the kids are at soccer practice, turn it into your workout either by joining in or creating your own workout while you wait for them to finish.If you have a significant other, make activity a regular part of date night. The whole evening will be better.
Make it social. What would happen if you took the time you spent with friends and dedicated it to exercise? What if you combined the two and spent time with friends while you exercised? See if your friends will meet you for a walk instead of going for coffee or eating at a restaurant (bonus - no oversized meals!). Walk whenever you call your friends, and your workout will pass by before you know it.
Make it a habit. You become more efficient at most things in life as you practice them. The same is true for exercise. The more you get in the habit of being active, the more efficient you may get. You may find that it takes less time to get ready for your workouts when they are just a routine part of daily life. In other words - stick with it, consistency is key!
Be organized. Plan ahead so you can make the most of the limited time you have for physical activity. Know when you are going to get active and what you are going to do, and get your workout clothes ahead of time so you do not find yourself wasting precious time scrambling for clothes and shoes instead of getting started.
Create “quicker” workouts. Some workouts take longer than others. For example, going to the gym takes time if it is not on your route, if parking takes a while, and if you need to wait for equipment or for a class to start. On the other hand, there is almost no wasted time with a walk from your front door or an exercise video at home. Then you can hop in the shower and be on your way.
Get help. If you really have no time in your life for exercise, you need help! Ask for it. If you have no money to pay someone to babysit, clean the house, or cook, be creative. Can you recruit a friend or neighbor to do some trades? You can watch their children a few times a week, and they can watch yours at other times so you can exercise. Or, try a multi-family cooking arrangement so you can cook large batches of food to share, and other times the other families will do the cooking.
And finally, a bonus tip: stay positive. Any amount of activity is better than none, and Lark will be there to cheer every move you make.