Ways To Be More Physically Active When You Think Your Schedule Won’t Allow It

May 20, 2016  |  

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Earlier this week, we told you that researchers found a lack of physical activity could increase a woman’s risk of having to battle cervical cancer. And according to the CDC, 80 percent of adults don’t get the recommended minimum of 2.5 hours of “moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, or a combination of both.” So while an interest in being more physically fit seems to be growing, many of us still aren’t getting up and getting moving in the ways that could greatly improve our health. And I’m sure most of us use the excuse that we just don’t have the time to do so. But Danielle Johnson, M.P.T., Wellness Physical Therapist at the Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Living Program and a mother of two says we need to make time. In fact, she said it’s easier than we think to do so.

Get moving! It’s National Physical Fitness month, so there is no time like the present. Check out six of her tips for committing to a physical activity plan even when you feel crunched for time.

Make An Appointment With Yourself

Johnson says if we start treating physical activity like any of the other activities we deem important in our calendar and in our lives, we will actually go forth with committing to making time for it. I can say from experience that that’s true. You’ll actually even start feeling bad when you have to miss your date with the gym:

“Use a calendar or daily planner to select the days that work for you to be physically active. Write it down. Put your plan in your phone, or whatever you use to track your life so that you see it each day. You can schedule week by week or an entire month at a time. Set your exercise time up just like any other important appointment. Do not schedule anything over that time. Don’t break your appointment with yourself. Remember, you are important and so is your health.”

Be Realistic

Now, if you know your days are bogged down with appointments and other important plans, Johnson says that fitting physical activity in where you can still goes a long way. Take brief breaks in between work to get moving. Eat at your desk and then use your lunch break to go for a nice walk. Every step makes a difference:

“Know how much time you really can and are willing to devote to a program. Research shows that doing as little as 15 minutes of purposeful exercise per day can improve your health. Taking 15 minutes to fit in a brisk walk, or complete a body weight circuit of squats, lunges, and push-ups can make a big difference in your health and wellness. Every little bit counts. You can incorporate smaller bursts of exercise into your work day. Get up every 30-45 minutes and take a 5-minute walk or do a few squats or lunges while you talk on the phone or read an email. Go on a walking meeting to talk to a co-worker instead of sending an email. No activity is ever wasted.”

Start Incorporating Activity Into “Girls’ Night Out”

Have you ever noticed that when you kick it with friends, they always want to go out to eat? I get it. Who doesn’t love food? But Johnson says that being active together can keep you both accountable for working to reach your health and fitness goals. Plus, you can save some money and some calories:

“Take a walk with a friend instead of heading to dinner or drinks. Meet up for an exercise class instead of happy hour. Not only will you get some great time with friends, but at the same time, you will knock out an activity session and feel awesome about staying on track with your goals! Bringing your friends into your activity world can be beneficial in many ways. Talking about your goals and activity plans with friends can be helpful to keep you accountable and on track. Research shows that having a workout partner promotes compliance to a physical activity program.”

Incorporate Your Children

Have kids and limited time? Johnson says that playing with your children consistently will not only help you gain more quality time with them but help you to be more physically active:

“Play a game like hide-and-seek or tag with your children. Ask them to do your exercise program with you, take a family walk or run. You will feel good about being active and you will get the extra benefit of spending quality time with your kids.”

Use Household Chores As Exercise

A day spent cleaning up your home is exhausting, right? Well, it’s also a chance for you to get moving. Johnson says you can make this time not only about tidying up, but also about toning up your body, moving your feet, and stretching your muscles:

“Cooking, laundry, or vacuuming can all be wonderful tasks where you can infuse exercise. Do squats, lunges, and toe raises while you cook or do dishes at the sink. Do a side lunge while you throw your laundry from the washer to the dryer. Lunge forward while you push your vacuum. Take an extra trip up and down your stairs a few times a day. Remember it all adds up and it all counts.”

Be Held Accountable By A Tracker

As someone who owns a fitness tracker, I can attest to the fact that they definitely encourage you to get moving. Like, all of the time. Johnson says that if you need that extra motivation, you can get it from your handy gadget:

“Using an activity tracker can be very motivating. You will quickly see that infusing exercise into your life really does make a difference!”

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