Make the Time

Susan Dawson-Cook in Personal Best Stretch - photo by Chris Mooney

Susan Dawson-Cook doing shoulder girdle stretches in Personal Best Stretch

Like most personal trainers, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard this worn out excuse: I don’t have enough time to do my exercise program. What’s really scary is that most of my clients are retired. If you can’t fit in an hour a day to exercise when you’re not even employed, there’s something seriously out-o-kilter with your priorities!

If you’re about to conjure up an excuse or two today, below are a few tips that might help you put your schedule and priorities in perspective:

1 – Look at exercise as part of your health care progam. If you exercise more, you will likely spend less time at the doctor’s office and the hospital.

2 – If you schedule your exercise time, just like you do for a trip to the doctor or for your bridge or quilting hour, then it is less likely to be left by the wayside.

3 – Find someone in the community that you look up to as a “fitness role model.” This person can inspire you to be your best. Your role model might be someone who shows up at the gym every morning at 7 a.m. sharp, a neighbor who competes in triathlons or someone who practices yoga every morning at the clubhouse.

4 – Fit in stretching during small increments throughout the day. When my neck and chest gets tight from sitting in front of the computer, I stand up and do neck rolls and then lay over the foam roller to open up my chest for a few minutes. I also often stretch to relax my body right before going to bed. Paying attention to what your body needs and delivering it is no different from giving your car a tune-up. Your body will feel and function much better if you are mindful. I also highly recommend regular chiropractic and massage to help keep you feeling like a fine-tuned machine (instead of a robot with rusty parts).

5 – If the long bout of exercise feels daunting, make slots for 3, 15 minute bouts of exercise. I personally don’t like this because it takes me 10 minutes to warm up enough to enjoy the rest of the workout, but I do know that this works well for many people. I also followed this method when I was travelling 75 percent of the time several years ago. I would do 10 minutes on the bike in the morning, walk around the parking lot for 10 or 15 minutes at lunch and even pace around in airports!

6 – If you are overcomitted with board responsibilities, social events, and other hobbies, let something go to make time for your exercise. I often combine the social and the exercise by training in groups or hiking with my family.

7 – Make it fun! I lost weight and got in my best shape ever when I started taking group exercise classes. Since I found them fun, I wanted to go every day and exercise became a joy instead of a chore. Everyone likes some kind of exercise. Keep trying different modes until you find what you like and you can’t help but succeed.

If you have a favorite tip to share, I’d love to hear it 🙂

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5 Responses

  1. cheryl Palen says:

    5 a.m. wake ups make for a long day, but I get my first workout done before I have to BE at work and it makes all the difference! So if I happen to miss the second one once a week after work, it’s not that big of a deal.
    My motivation (partly) is hearing all the women in the locker room complain about their maladies and trips to the Dr. when I rarely need to go except for routine check-ups.
    It’s a lifestyle and habit and if you set that alarm and get out of bed early on a daily basis, it won’t seem like work. It will just be part of your healthy routine!

  2. Susan Dawson-Cook says:

    Cheryl, I agree that being healthy makes the effort well worth it. I feel so much better if I start out the day with a good workout. I’m so used to my routine, that what I don’t know how to do is taper. I’m trying to rest this weekend for U.S. Masters Swimming Championships next weekends and I’m going a bit batty!

  3. Kelsey says:

    My “trick” is getting myself to just start something active and tell myself 15 mins. If I still don’t want to work out after 15 mins. then I can stop. But 9.5 times out of 10 I keep going for an hour! Great blog 🙂

  4. Susan Dawson-Cook says:

    Kelsey, I totally agree with you. It’s the start-up that is the hard part; once I get going, I don’t want to stop! I’m glad you like the blog. I hope you keep reading and participating 🙂

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