Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fitting Exercise Into a Busy Schedule

I think that one of the most common excuses for not exercising, besides just being lazy (and let’s be honest, we’ve all been there), is simply not having enough time. As a fourth year graduate student, I’m certainly no stranger to a busy schedule. Since I started my rotations last fall I’ve been lucky enough to have most of my evenings free, but it wasn’t too long ago when the majority of my days consisted of going to class for eight hours and then studying all night long.

Despite my demanding course load, I’ve never really had trouble making time for exercise. Three years ago when I first started losing weight, I decided to make it a priority and I’ve been regularly exercising ever since. With everything going on in our lives, it’s important to make time for yourself and to take care of your health, both mentally and physically. Today I thought I’d share some tips that have helped me fit in my daily workouts while getting through pharmacy school at the same time. I hope at least some of you, particularly my fellow college students, will find them helpful!

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Schedule Your Workouts

When I say schedule, I mean actually plan your workouts into your days. Pick a time that you are going to exercise, and then treat your workout like an appointment that you can’t miss. It helps when you have a designated time of the day that is set aside for exercising, and it’s even better when it’s the same time every day because then you can form a routine. I’ve always been a morning exerciser because I like getting it out of the way first thing. Of course, sometimes this means getting up at the crack of the dawn (like right now when I have to wake up at 5:00 am in order to make it to rotation by 8:00 am), but it’s worth it to me. If I know that I am going to be up late the night before, then I reschedule for the afternoon and I take a snack and my gym clothes to work with me so that I can go straight to the gym after I’m done. If I stop at home on the way there, the chance of me skipping my gym date would quadruple Winking smile.

I also like to take a minute every Sunday to plan out my workouts for the upcoming week. I write them down on my white board so that I can check them off as I complete them.

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Work Out At Home

Not everyone has a gym membership, and even those who do can’t manage to have perfect attendance all the time. Sometimes we really do just get too busy and don’t have an extra hour or two to spend driving to the gym, working out, and then driving back. When this happens, I turn to my favorite workout DVDs (I’m currently loving the Turbo Jam Fat Blaster DVD) or do an at-home circuit (check out my 50 x 3 Circuit Workout – it’s a fast workout that will torch some calories!). There are also tons of other at home workout ideas in fitness magazines and online, and I get a lot of my ideas from other bloggers. Even just 20 minutes is enough time to get a decent workout in, just work hard!

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Find A Workout Buddy

When Eric and I lived together P3 year, we worked out together all the time. We spotted each other when we lifted weights and he really helped push me to work harder. Having a workout buddy is not only great for motivation while you’re at the gym, but if you have an exercise date with someone then you’re much less likely to break if than if you have plans to go at it alone. Plus it’s fun! While I usually work out solo these days (I miss my workout buddy Sad smile), I’ve worked out with many of my friends before and sometimes my sister joins me when I’m at home.

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“Sneak” In Workouts

In other words, take advantage of opportunities to burn extra calories through out your day. Park farther away from your building, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and take walking breaks throughout the day if you have a desk job. My current rotation is located downtown, and I have to park almost half a mile away from the building every day. I have the option of parking somewhere else and taking a shuttle in if I want, but I quit doing that after one day. I’d much rather walk than have to wait around for the shuttle, especially now that the weather is getting nice!


Remind Yourself Why You Want to Exercise

Okay, this isn’t really a tip on how to fit in exercise, but more like another way that I motivate myself to get my butt to the gym. Most of the time, thinking about weight loss is not enough to motivate me when I’m not feeling up to the task of exercise and I have to remind myself of the other reasons why I like to do it (yes, I have to remind myself why I LIKE to exercise). Some of my reasons include:

  • It’s a stress reducer
  • It improves my mood
  • It brings me closer to my goal of completing a sprint triathlon this summer
  • It helps me keep my sanity (true story)
  • It’s good for my HEALTH

Usually, just thinking about these reasons is enough to make me go get my sweat on, and if it’s not then I just use the 10 minute rule: If I go exercise for 10 minutes and still don’t want want to be there, then I can leave. 9 times out of 10, I stay and finish my workout.

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What are your tips for fitting exercise into a busy schedule?


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