How to exercise when you have no time
Getting fit the busy midlifer way
Let’s be honest - for midlifers especially exercise can be a problem. As you pick up kids from school, deal with the daily commute, check on aging parents or pack the weekly food shop in the boot of the car, you simply lose chances and time to exercise. Just this week, a girlfriend from my running club said she wouldn’t be able to make it because she had too big a to-do list and couldn’t afford the time.
You might have once gone to the gym, been to a weekly fitness class or was a sports club regular. However, as you get older there are simply too many demands on time and money. You see fitness classes advertised and think ‘if only I had time’ or you put it off … ‘I’ll do it when I have more time/more money/work isn’t as stressful’. There’s always a reason not to.
Not A Gym Bunny?
Yet for many midlifers the solution is not as simple as re-joining a gym (expensive and intimidating) or a weekly fitness class. For many of us exercise taps into the insecurities we have about ourselves. The thought of meeting new people in a class can be off putting for many - what if you can’t keep up, everyone else knows each other, what do I even wear?
Plus, where do you find the time, when for many people they’ve got to drive to survive? It’s ironic that even for those midlifers who consciously get their children offline and outdoors, it’s often at a cost to their own waistlines. As I discussed in my blog post Midlife Weight Gain when your muscles don’t have to work very hard your energy is being stored as fat, resulting in a bigger waistline.
You probably know what you should be doing, just like you may have a good idea what you shouldn’t be eating. Easier said than done? Perhaps not …
Walking Makes Time For You
I’ve got a friend who lost weight after being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes but was the kid at school who hated PE. So exercise was not something she ever enjoyed. However, she wanted to maintain her good weight loss and decided walking more seemed like something she could do easily and cheaply.
It doesn’t mean she has ditched the car but she has gradually carved out more time to walk . On a weekend morning, she walks while listening to podcasts and music. She walks to the hairdressers/dentist/shops and is the only person I know who puts an appointment in her diary to walk for at least 15 minutes during the working day.
Sometimes she has to change the time or has to work hard to squeeze it into her day. Often she doesn’t want to do it but once outside she finds it’s a physical and mental booster. It clears her head, makes her aware of the outside world and keeps her fit. And she says she can count on one hand the number of times she has really got soaked. As Scottish comedian Billy Connolly once said “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”.
The Benefits of Walking
Being aware of the weather/ seasons, sounds, what is going on in your village town, city.
Social - go with family member, work colleague, friend, neighbour or even just smile and say hello to anyone you meet while walking
Mindset - being pro-active, complementing healthier eating
Fitter - more energy, stamina and the kick-start you need to make you think about how to get more exercise in your life.
The easiest way is to make walking part of your day and it all counts (whether or not you choose to count steps, which can be a great motivator). Take the stairs at work, schedule in a regular lunchtime walk, walk to local shops, have walking meetings.
Don’t beat yourself up about how long, how fast, how fit - as my friend discovered just making a conscious change is the first step to a healthier, happier midlife.
So What is The Answer?
The Midlife Menu mindset is all about being realistic. Telling you to make time to keep fit isn’t really going to help and even if you resolve to start a new fitness routine a bad week can sap your initial enthusiasm. Instead, think about how small changes can reap big benefits in the longer term because they are more manageable, do-able and enjoyable.
So your goal for this week is to walk more than you did last week. Quite simply, put one foot in front of another for as long or short as you like. There’s no need to ditch the car, buy a bus pass or join the gym. Just find 10-20 mins every day to do what you usually do by walking.
It sounds too simple but it really does work. Like any habit, it’s just a case of making it part of your everyday. Take the stairs at work, walk the long way round from the train station, try an early morning walk around your area at the weekends. Remember over Xmas when someone dragged the family out for a walk? Remember that feeling of getting out of the house, talking, being aware of the weather? More of that!
Anything that’s more than you were doing yesterday is positive so don’t stress about doing 20 minutes every day no matter what. It’s more about making a positive choice to make it part of your life.
Walking Your Way This Week
Why not try:
A walk around the block during the working day.
A weekend morning walk with a friend, the dog or a family member.
Every time you think of getting the lift at work, take the stairs instead.
After a while the thought of walking will become less conscious and you’ll just do it.
The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Midlife Menu Ltd disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.