Five ways to find the time to exercise.

Welcome to February, the New Years’ resolutions have been and gone, and we are back into the swing of things. Holiday mode is over and once again we are short on time which means that for a lot of us, exercising falls down the list of priorities. I thought this might be a good opportunity to share my 5 key tips to help you find more time to exercise. Give them a try and let me know how you go!

1) Attach your exercising to something you do each day. 

  • Have a think about the things you do daily. What habits have you built over many years don’t require a second though these days. For example, this might be brushing your teeth, putting the kettle on for a cup of coffee in the morning, maybe checking the mailbox or taking out the rubbish.
  • Once you’ve identified these tasks, attach an exercise to one of these daily habits and find a way to remind yourself to do so. For example, put a sticky note on the kettle that says “10 squats” and as you wait for the kettle to boil, you complete your exercise! Or you could stick a note on the bathroom mirror which says “10 heel raises” and before you hop in the shower or brush your teeth, complete the exercise.
  • As you get more comfortable with the exercises you can add more and more to your daily tasks until the exercises themselves become habits and you are keeping your body moving all throughout the day. 
  • This strategy requires no additional time to be made and uses habits that you have already developed in your life to “piggy-back” the exercises into your daily routine. 

2) Check your “Screen Time”. 

  • There is a very useful app on the iPhone that allows you to track how long you are spending on your phone each day. Often once viewed, this app lives in the deep, dark depths of your phone so you don’t need to witness the horror of knowing how long you scroll through Instagram each week. 
  • On average, we know that Australian’s spend 2 and a half hours on their phone each day, with a lot of this time dedicated to social media. We also know that the most commonly felt emotion after a period of social media use is ….. regret. So why don’t we put that time to better use?
  • The challenge here is to replace a % of your daily screen time with exercise instead. Start low, with say 5% - if you spend the average amount of time (2.5 hours) on your phone each day, then this will come to 7 and a half minutes that you need to convert to exercise instead. It could be a short walk, quick circuit of exercises, riding on an exercise bike or having a game of basketball in the backyard. 
  • As you start to feel more confident swapping the screen time for exercise, you can increase this % - ideally until you reach 20% which would equate to 30 minutes - the Australian guidelines for daily recommended exercise. 

3) Set S.M.A.R.T goals 

  • Often when we set ourselves a goal or challenge, we overestimate our abilities and set unrealistic and unattainable goals. We get disappointed when we don’t reach these goals but don’t review and reflect back on why we didn’t get the outcome we wanted.
  • Using the “S.M.A.R.T” formula, we can set achievable goals for the short term and long term and maintain our motivation as we tick off each goal along the way. The S.M.A.R.T acronym stands for (with an example for each):

    SPECIFIC: I am going to go for a run.

    MEASUREABLE: I am going to run for 10 minutes.

    ACHIEVABLE: I am going to run for 10 minutes, once per week. 

    RELEVANT: I am going to run for 10 minutes, once per week, because it is important that I improve my cardiovascular fitness for my heart health.

    TIMELY: For the next 4 weeks, I am going to run for 10 minutes, once per week. Then I will assess my results and set another SMART goal for the next 4 weeks.  

4) Set yourself up for success

  • Quite often the hardest part about exercising is finding the effort to get started. Once you’ve put your shoes on for your walk or have made your way to the gym, the rest takes care of itself. 
  • The idea behind setting yourself up for success is to make the “effort” part as easy as possible and limit the amount of excuses that your mind will try and make up for you (and it will dig deep to find as many as it can!). Some ideas you can try to set yourself up for success are:

    -Exercise clothes ready and waiting for you in the morning so you don’t need to spend any extra time looking through your drawers for something to wear.

    -Therabands or weights placed in a position that you walk past regularly throughout the day so you don’t need to make any extra effort to set up or go out to the shed to find your weights. 

    -Meet a friend for a walk or a gym session - you’re much less likely to cancel if you have someone keeping you accountable and waiting for you to meet them. 

5) Use the “2 minute rule”

  • This strategy refers to the idea that the hardest part about exercising is getting started. Once you GET going, the endorphins take over and it’s much easier to KEEP going. 
  • To use this strategy, you need to tell yourself that your goal is to exercise for 2 minutes (this could be going for a walk, run, cycle, swim, or doing some strength exercises). Once you’ve reached the 2 minute mark, you can either:

    -Stop there - with no guilt whatsoever, having achieved your goal and still having done something, or…

    -Keep going if you are feeling up to it - and do as much as you like! 
  • The perceived effort of knowing you only have to do a 2 minute workout is much easier to find the motivation for than setting yourself up for a 30 minute walk or 60 minutes at the gym. 

If you would like some help getting back into exercise post holidays or if you are after some advice give us a call  today on 8682 6665 to book your appointment with our Exercise Physiologists.

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