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  • Writer's pictureJenny Henderson

"I don't have time"

We all know that exercise is important – vital, in fact. Yet, one of the most common excuses for not exercising enough is “I don't have time.”

And it’s true. It is hard to find time for exercise. The assumption is often that an exercise session needs to be an all out sweat fest and that it'll take up an hour or so of your day.

The following are minimum exercise guidelines for healthy adults (18-65)

  • Moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes, five days per week (e.g. a brisk walk) or;

  • Vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity for 20 minutes, three days per week (e.g. jogging) or;

  • Some combination of moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity

NOTE: Exercise can be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes.

That’s not bad. In fact, it’s pretty achievable. So, let’s move on to the challenging part: Finding the time for exercise. Perhaps you simply have your hands full with work, laundry, kids, community commitments, and all the other things that make up our plate of life.

Starting an exercise program means rearranging your schedule to allow time for it, but it doesn't require that much time. Researchers know that short bouts of exercise can be just as effective for weight loss and health as longer workouts and that many people find it easier to stick with shorter workouts.

If your eyes didn’t completely glaze over when you read the recommendations above, you may have noticed that you can exercise in “bouts of at least 10 minutes.” This means that theoretically, you could go for a brisk 10-minute walk after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Not only would you feel refreshed, but it would also help with your digestion! But, in reality, how many of us could actually achieve this? My mornings are chockablock making breakfasts, packing lunches, telling kids to get dressed, stop fighting, brush their teeth, put their shoes on, leave each other alone.... if you are a mum, you get it. But, I have the luxury of living close to our school, so that walk to and from school becomes one of my 10 minute windows for exercise. It's all about finding an opportunity and using it.

Making time for exercise, even if it's just 5 to 10 minutes at a time, is your first step to making it a permanent part of your life.

My go to when I’m time short, or just need that little exercise pick-me-up is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) I can do as little as 5 minutes on my spin bike and feel the same benefits as I do from a 30 minute jog!

The key is to focus on intensity and work harder than you usually do. That means on a perceived exertion scale of 1-10, try to keep your intensity around 7-9 throughout the workout. It may be tough, but you're only doing it for a short time.

Time efficient workouts come in so many forms. I’m a huge fan of compound movements and hybrid exercises, these are exercises that combine the use of many muscles at once. That means you are able to burn more calories, challenge your heart rate, and be time-efficient. Compound movements take your workout from good to great! Think about it, the more muscles working, the more energy output required.

3 of my favourites are, Squat with overhead press, Push up with plank row and Burpees, in these three movements alone you will challenge your entire body. 10 of each and repeat 3-5 times and you’ve just achieved a full body workout in less time than it takes to watch a TV show!

That’s the other issue…

Turns out, if you want to change your schedule to accommodate exercise, you must be motivated to do it. People who exercise don't necessarily have more time than you, they are just determined that what they're getting out of exercise is worth more than whatever else they could be doing during that time.

Exercise is just like anything else, but, unless it's a priority for you, you're never going to make time for it. I could give you a hundred reasons why exercise should be important to you, but you're the one who has to decide if it really is important to you. Then it's all about making the time for exercise, even if it's just 5 to 10 minutes at a time, it's your first step to making it a permanent part of your life.

Health and Happiness


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