Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of time your friends and colleagues spend in the gym? Turned off by the idea of a tennis game that entails not only the hour-long match but also getting to the tennis club, changing into a tennis outfit and then showering afterwards?
You think, “That’s almost 3 hours – three hours I could devote to nurturing my clients and expanding my sales territory!” The bad news is, being penny wise and pound foolish does not work in ANY circumstance, especially where fitness and health are concerned.
Are those three hours worth skipping during a given week when you know that years of optimum health can be yours if you had a positive attitude accompanied by reasonable doses of discipline?
Instead of ignoring exercise altogether, here’s a suggestion for integrating it into your busy schedule. Think of exercise like you think of a major task in the office. Break it up into tinier components.
Instead of spending two hours in the gym or in the tennis court like your friends do, ask your trainer to divide your workout program.
30 minutes four times a week, i.e.: 20 minutes cardio, 10 minutes weights (1 muscle group, e.g. legs)
30 minutes three times a week
Mon: 20 minutes cardio + 10 minutes stretching;
Tues: 20 minutes weights (2 muscle groups, e.g. back and abdominals) + 10 minutes of cardio.
Wed: 20 minutes cardio + 10 minutes of
Weights (two muscle groups, e.g. triceps or chest, biceps or shoulders)
20 minutes 5 days a week.
Week 1: all cardio
Week 2: weights
Week 3: Cardio on Mon/Wed/Fri
Week 4: Weights on Tues/Thurs
Repeat the entire cycle when you get to month 2.
Ideally, one should gradually increase the frequency or intensity, or both. But if you’re busy, and definitely can’t spare more than 30 minutes a day, then increase your intensity. This means if your cardio involves the treadmill, take the notch up 1 level (if you started with level 3, go on to level 4 on month 2).
For your weight training, if you started with 5-pound weights, graduate into 7.5 pounds in month 2. And then on those days when your day is not filled with meetings, try to stay an extra 5-10 minutes.
Be realistic with your goals, especially when you’re just starting. Increasing frequency and intensity too soon can overwhelm you, making you want to give up.
Another way to integrate exercise into a busy schedule is to vary the fitness routine. Variety promotes interest in maintaining your workout schedule. Without variety, boredom sets in, causing you to drop out.
Variety also enables you to accommodate as many different types of exercises from the wide repertory available from personal trainers, books and manuals – and the Internet – and that way you’re able to adopt certain movements that you’re most comfortable with.
If you’re an absolute beginner, a full blown workout which incorporates cardio, weights, and flexibility may scare or discourage you. The idea is to start with small steps.
Do one exercise segment at a time (refer to our suggestions, item 2 above). Besides, very few people can accomplish a two-hour workout more than once or twice a week.
Another way of doing it would be to integrate your favorite sport (swimming, cycling or walking) during the week and say, a particular activity like yoga which doesn’t necessitate jumping into the car and making a dash for the washrooms before cardio classes start.
With yoga for example, all you need is a mat and a quiet room in your house for about 20 minutes.
If your schedule gets you up and running beginning at 9 in the morning until six in the evening, this day represents 9 hours. There are 24 hours a day and we’re not recommending you get up at 2 in the morning to do your exercise.
But have you ever thought that if you get up at 7 to be ready for 9, maybe you can set your alarm clock 45 minutes earlier, using these 45 minutes to engage in a physical activity? If you do this three times a week, that means you get 135 minutes that you can allocate for exercise.
One easy way to do this is to do yoga in the morning (it requires only a mat and comfortable, loose clothing), or turn on the Jane Fonda CD/DVD, or buy a treadmill (the foldable ones) that you can jump into as soon as you wake up.
Another time management tip: not only do busy managers have back-to-back meetings, they also have luncheon and dinner meetings to meet with clients. Assess each client. Do all of them really need to be wined and dined? Is an hour long meeting absolutely necessary? Can’t a deal be negotiated on the phone?
See how many meetings you can cancel or shorten. Then fit your fitness program into those slots that have been freed up.
How about this suggestion: instead of going to lunch with clients every day of the week, why don’t you schedule lunch meetings for say Monday and Tuesday? This way you can incorporate a fitness routine for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 12:00 to 1:00 pm.
A brisk walk inside or outside the office building, a quick swim in the neighborhood hotel, a Pilates course in the recreational centre, lifting dumb bells while on the phone?
Any of these exercises is better than no exercise. Your guiding principle should be to move, move, move as frequently as you can manage it.
Just as ergonomic experts are recommending to office workers to take their eyes off their computer screen every hour or so, fitness experts are advocating getting up from your chair and taking a walk and jaunting up and down the stairs.
When you feel the need to take a break, offer to pick up supplies for your colleagues, take the mail downstairs instead of waiting for the trolley, or think of something you could put in your car instead of waiting until 5 pm. That way, you force yourself to get up from your seat and walk for a few minutes.
If you look into the private offices of some people, you’ll see dumb bells, mats and elastic bands – these are clues that they are doing some exercise while on the job – a good and healthy practice to adopt by busy individuals with hectic schedules.
On the weekends when you join the family in their activities, try to integrate exercise into these activities: if the children are into cycling, join them for bike rides. Are they off to their swimming lessons or skating lessons? See if you can sign up in the adults section, or take a walk outside the recreational center while waiting for them.
Who says you can’t burn calories while doing housework or gardening? Take a breather from your hectic schedule and devote some down time to tending to your lawn, trimming your rose bushes, scrubbing the kitchen and bathroom floors, etc.
And here’s another tip that is popular: park your car far away so you can walk to the front gates of the office, to the entrance of the mall, to the doctor’s office and to the post office.