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Making Time to Stay Active

It's difficult enough to find time for the things you have to do, much less the extras. Unfortunately, that often means exercise gets left out of a many people's schedules.

Maybe it's time to stop thinking of physical activity as a "when I have time" option and consider it a necessity for life. Exercise is vital to good health, whether or not you need to lose weight.

So how do you start fitting physical activity into your life? First, look for ways to add more movement to your day:

  • Gardening, bowling, family outings, an evening of salsa dancing, and many other recreational activities provide added activity.
  • Walk or bicycle to the local store instead of using the car.
  • Park several blocks from the office and walk the rest of the way.
  • Walk up the stairs instead of using the elevator

Added up, these small changes can total a significant amount of energy used over days, weeks and beyond.

Get serious about having fun

Face it - wouldn't you make time for exercise if you enjoyed it? That's why it's so important to find activities you like, and to do them in places where you feel comfortable. Variety is the spice of life - find several things you like to do and change off, so that you don't get bored. Your body will also get in better shape because you'll target different systems both aerobic and anaerobic.

Assuming you've found workouts you want to do, when do you do them? There are a few things to consider for planning a workout schedule -- personal preferences, job and family responsibilities, availability of exercise facilities and weather.

Many people like to exercise before dinner -- the late afternoon workout can help to shake off the day's stresses and provides a nice break before the evening. Another popular time to work out is early morning. Early-bird exercisers say they feel more alert and energized during the day. Experiment and see what hours work best for you.

Bear in mind: Don't exercise strenuously during extremely hot, humid weather. Talk to your doctor about any health issues that might affect your exercise schedule.

Is there a "best" time?

There's been lots of research done to determine the most effective calorie-burning time for exercise. Forget about it. The best way to expend that fuel is to find something you like and stick with it!

And make sure to schedule your workouts for a time when there is little chance that you will have to cancel or interrupt them because of competing demands on your time.

When you're planning to exercise, experts recommend that you do some form of aerobic exercise at least three times a week for a minimum of 20 continuous minutes. If that's too much, start with a shorter time span and gradually build up. Then progress until you are able to work aerobically for 20-40 minutes.

If you need to lose a large amount of weight, you may want to do your aerobic workout five times a week - but don't force yourself to do more than you're able.

It's also a good idea to incorporate weight training into your routine. It helps to "rev" your metabolism, boost your bone strength and makes you feel powerful!


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