how to make exercise a sustainable part of your routine

How to make exercise a sustainable part of your routine

The following article is a guest-post by none other than my wonderful wife, Hayley Minors. Hayley and I value health and fitness as one of the most important aspects of out lives. Even during our travels, we make sure to always find a way to work out, no matter where we are. Because keeping fit is so important, I asked Hayley to write this post to help share our thoughts on how to “make time” for exercise.

The key to making time for fitness is to find what works for you and to create a routine based on how you like to work out. Not everyone can set aside 2 hours to hit the gym, and not everyone wants to. Time constraints are one of the most common excuses when it comes to not getting enough exercise.

The goal is to make exercise a regular and sustainable part of your routine (not to go on a short-term diet or complete an 8-week program). When you're fit and healthy, you really do get more out of life. Entrepreneurs like Richard Branson credit staying active with being the key to sustainable productivity.

Here are some tips on how to “make time” for exercise.

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Be realistic with your time

Don't set your expectations too high. If you currently don't get much exercise, start small. Establish a set amount of time you can commit to exercising and keep stick to it. If it's only 15 minutes, that's fine. Maintaining a 15 minute routine is far better than trying to do 90 minutes and giving up after a week.

Also be realistic about when you'll do your exercises. If you know you're not a morning person, don't try and work out in the morning just because you think this is the right thing to do. Schedule your exercise for when you get home from work instead (it's a nice way to bookend the day).

If you're short on time try exercising at home or around your local neighbourhood. Whether it be a jog around the streets or an at-home, no-equipment workout. This eliminates travel time.

Be realistic with your ability

Avoid diving headfirst into a heavy workout routine which is going to cause you to burn out or cause injury. Ease into it, start slowly and build on whatever fitness base you already have. If you wake up the next morning unable to move you've probably gone too hard, too fast and you're unlikely to feel motivated to get up and do it again. Pace yourself, it's not a race. Remember, long-term sustainability is what we're going for.

Schedule your workouts

This is key, you need to physically block out your allocated exercise time. Whether you use a diary, a calendar or a fitness app, set aside time to exercise each week. If you decide to commit to 3 times a week for 30 minutes between 6:30am and 7:00am, block that out in your calendar so you can visually see it.

Also schedule the amount of time it will take to get ready and to shower and refresh afterwards. If it takes you 5 minutes to drive to your gym and 15 minutes to shower and drive home afterwards, ensure that you block out those 20 minutes plus the 30 minutes dedicated to exercising.

One of the advantages to doing this is that by blocking out your time on a calendar, you're making a commitment to yourself that you're going to do a  workout (similar to how you add a meeting to your calendar and make a commitment to someone that you'll turn up on time). This extra accountability will help you to turn your workouts into a regular practice.

Plan your workouts

Plan what exercise you are going to do. This part is also crucial, if you show up to the gym at your allocated exercise time with no plan in place you'll spend half your time wandering around not sure what to do next. Decide for example on a cardio + arms day including 10 minute interval runs on the treadmill and 3 sets of 10 Bicep curls, Push Press & Press ups. Or decide to join a group fitness class. Whatever your plan, make sure you have one.

Make a mental commitment

In order to make exercise a sustainable part of your routine, you need to make a mental commitment that you're going to exercise on a regular basis. Habit's aren't created overnight and with exercise, in particular, it can be hard to drum up the motivation to work out on a regular basis. You need discipline. It's hard getting up and going for a jog on a cold winters morning, but I promise you won't regret it afterwards.

The best part is that once you've created this habit, it will become a normal part of your daily life; just another activity you do every day without a second thought or extra motivation needed.

Stay accountable

Setting fitness goals is crucial if you want to hold yourself accountable. Without goals, how do you know if you're making progress or just wasting time? When setting your goals, make sure you think about adding a deadline so you know if you're progressing at a reasonable pace and whether or not you need to up your game.

Share your goals, find an accountability buddy who can help keep you on track when you're not feeling motivated. You could even join a sports team or local fitness class. Exercising with other people can be motivating and keep you far more accountable.

If you're struggling to make exercise a regular part of your routine, let me know! Or if you have any great advice on how to sustain exercise, we want to hear it!