Schedules are packed. Responsibilities are seemingly endless. Life gets crazy. You may ask yourself this same question or a version like it on a daily basis: How can I possibly squeeze in one more ‘to do’ during the day?
It is easy to become overwhelmed with the incessant demands people face every day. Whether a demand is work-related, personal or a combination, it’s still a balancing act and we often forget to include ourselves as part of that equation. That said, it is possible to fit in time for activity in a busy day. It takes a little creativity, planning ahead and committing to yourself and your health.
• Be an early bird: Working out in the early morning offers several advantages. Sunrise workouts provide a great way to relieve stress before the day begins. In addition, an a.m. workout can help you mentally prepare for the day’s challenges. Bonus – it’s already done before the day actually begins.
• Walk and talk: Meetings, meetings, meetings. We are all familiar (some of us too familiar) with the meeting concept. Switch things up and schedule a walking meeting. This works well if you are meeting in a small group (2-3 people). Take advantage of the nice days and take it outside. Bonus — you’re promoting the production of Vitamin D.
• Leverage family time: Face it, no one wants to sacrifice family time for an hour-long workout. Instead, schedule family activity time in the form of a game, outing to a park, or a long walk. Bonus – everyone in the family can participate and it’s a great opportunity to engage in face-to-face talk without technology butting in.
• Take a break: Productivity tends to decline as we get tired or spend too much time focusing on one project or task. Take a 30-minute break during the day or use part of a lunch hour to get in some activity. Bonus – productivity increases and you will be ready to complete the task or focus on something new when you are finished.
• H.I.I.T. It: As the intensity of exercise increases, the duration decreases. Use this to your advantage and squeeze in a 20-minute high intensity interval training session to facilitate maximum caloric expenditure in a short period of time. Bonus – caloric expenditure can remain elevated for a period of time after the workout is completed. The body needs to return to homeostasis and doing so requires energy in the form of calories.
• Commit to me time: Make yourself a priority. Many of the variables related to health are within our control and, as such, many of the chronic diseases individuals can develop are directly related to lifestyle and are also modifiable. It’s OK to say ‘no’ to extra commitments and make activity part of your daily to-do list.
Add yourself in to the busy schedule equation and engage in an activity you enjoy, feel good about accomplishing and that you can commit to performing daily – for your health – for your quality of life.
Dr. Erin Nitschke is the director of the Health & Human Performance Department at Sheridan College.