UHA Worksite Wellness

Think You Don't Have Time to Exercise? Think Again!

Written by Valerie Au on November 09, 2014. Posted in Activity & Exercise, Post


    1. “I don’t have enough time.” By far, the biggest excuse for not exercising is lack of time. Between the commute to the gym, getting changed into the right clothes, the workout itself and the shower afterwards, it’s easy to understand why this excuse feels so compelling.

      WHY THIS EXCUSE NEEDS TO GO: Part of the reason this excuse is so persuasive is because it seems logical – after all, exercise takes time. What it conceals, though, is the fact that exercising regularly increases energy levels and reduces fatigue, making us more productive with the time we have. In a recent study, regular exercise was even more effective, on average, than medication used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy in terms of improving energy and reducing fatigue. This is true even of low-intensity workouts, meaning that even a short, leisurely walk goes a long way towards boosting your potential. In fact, a recent study reported a greater improvement of energy levels and fatigue for participants of low-intensity workouts over those involved in higher-intensity exercise. By helping you work more productively and efficiently, exercise more than makes up for the time invested.

    2. “I’m too tired” After a long day of work, it can be tough to convince yourself that a workout will feel as good as collapsing on the couch. After all, haven’t you earned a break?

      WHY THIS EXCUSE NEEDS TO GO: Just like the first excuse, this one overlooks the many terrific benefits that you get from a good workout session – a boost in fitness, a boost in energy, and a big boost in mood! In fact, studies have shown that even a short 20-minute workout can trigger mood benefits lasting up to 12 hours. Sinking into the couch to catch up on sitcoms may make you feel good in the moment, but it won’t beat the many great – and long-lasting – benefits that you get from working out, including more energy and improved mood.

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So, how do you make the most out of limited time for exercise?

WORK SMARTER, NOT LONGER — Don’t skip the gym just because you can’t find time for a long session. A 10-15 min workout (even a 4min one!) goes a long way towards boosting energy and improving your health — in fact, some sources even suggest that shorter workouts may be more beneficial than a long ones! A shorter workout makes it easier to stick to your commitment, and may also help boost your metabolism and suppress your appetite in between exercises.

CREATE A ROUTINE — Not only will a regular routine help you by pre-assigning time for exercising, it will also make it easier for you to stick to your plan. Remember, the right time will never just appear — you need to make it happen!

MAKE IT A GROUP ACTIVITY — Get friends or family involved and use exercise as a way to catch up and have fun together! Not only will you be getting in shape, and motivating each other to keep going, you’ll also be less likely to cancel a session when there are others involved.

WORKOUT AT HOME — If commuting to the gym is really slowing you down, workout at home instead! There are many short and effective workouts that can easily be done at home with little or no equipment.

MAKE IT FUN — Rock climbing, surfing, martial arts, dancing, swimming — there are tons of activities that will give you a great workout without feeling like a workout. If you skip the gym because you think that exercise is boring, try an activity that challenges you and your body! When your workout is fun, it doesn’t feels like work.

If you’re really struggling to make time to exercise, ask yourself: do you really not have time and energy, or is it just not a priority? Often we convince ourselves that we’re too busy or tired for something when really we just don’t want to do it. Remember that prioritizing exercise not only benefits your productivity — it also improves your mood, your health, and your overall sense of well-being.

So next time you find yourself worrying about time, ask yourself: can you really afford not to make time to exercise?

Valerie Au

Worksite Wellness Program Manager; Vice Chair, Hawaii Health at Work Alliance (HH@WA) Board of Directors

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