4 Habits To Stay Fit Despite A Busy Schedule
Most of us spend our days running around, trying to meet deadlines at work, shuffling kids to and from school, bearing long commutes, and other daily responsibilities. The priority to exercise regularly and cook healthy meals is often pushed aside in our busy, hectic lives.
One of the biggest obstacles people face is trying to find time to fit in regular physical activity. But with the right habits, you can easily prioritize health and fitness in your life.
Here are four habits you can build to help you prioritize fitness despite a busy schedule:
1. Plan Ahead to Minimize Decisions
Remember how Steve Jobs iconically wore the same outfit–black turtleneck, blue jeans, and New Balance sneakers–everyday?
We make countless decisions on a daily basis. When should I get out of bed? What should I eat? What should I wear? Should I go to the gym? With every decision you make, you are expending mental energy. If you make too many decisions in a short amount of time, you can reduce your decision-making ability.
Steve Jobs minimized the number of decisions he had to make every day to conserve his mental energy for more important decisions, thus increasing his productivity.
The same concept can be applied to your fitness strategy: plan ahead to limit the number of fitness decisions you have to make (and decrease the chance of you skipping these decisions entirely).
Schedule Workouts Ahead of Time
Studies have shown that people without a set routine are more likely to experience negative health consequences. Some examples include inadequate sleep, weight issues, improper digestion, and not getting the recommended amount of exercise.
Scan your calendar and schedule specific times that you are going to work out. For instance, schedule a gym sessions after work every Tuesday and Thursday. Or sign up for yoga classes ahead of time and add them to your planner. The key is to make sure you actually schedule them into your calendar like you would a business meeting or doctor appointment.
If you set your plans ahead of time, you’re more likely to follow through with your scheduled workout. It’s easier to skip when you’re debating whether or not you should go to the gym, or when you don’t have your gym clothes.
Another benefit of scheduling your workouts is that your body becomes accustomed to your workout time and your energy level will start to rise in anticipation. Having a set routine makes it easier to live a consistent and healthy life. It also limits your decision-making on if or when to workout.
Another way to limit your decisions is to plan your meals ahead of time. Carve out an hour or two at the beginning of the week to prepare some simple meals to get you through the week. While this may initially seem time-consuming, it will save you many hours during the week, as well as reduce decision fatigue. It will also prevent you from ordering unhealthy takeout meals because you are too tired or lazy to cook.
Your meals don’t have to be anything fancy or extravagant. It can be as simple as portioning out a few chicken breasts and chopped vegetables or rice in separate containers for the week. These meals can be refrigerated or even frozen, then easily reheated when you’re ready to eat. Meal planning is not only a healthy alternative, but it also saves time, money, and energy!
2. Do What You Can When You Can
For those who may have a more sporadic schedule, setting recurring gym sessions may not be feasible. But exercise doesn’t always have to mean an hour-long yoga class or 3 mile run. Do as much exercise as you can, whenever you can. You can still reap benefits from any kind of activity for any amount of time. It all adds up cumulatively over time.
You might be skeptical about how much you can really gain from five minutes of exercise. But research has shown that doing higher intensity interval training can be more effective that longer, steady-paced exercise.
Even if you don’t make it to the gym, there are plenty of short at-home fitness videos available online (even just on YouTube). Many of these videos are just 15 minutes or less, and all you need is a yoga mat.
You can even sneak in exercise into your busy workday. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk across the office to ask that coworker a question instead of sending an email. Take a coffee break to walk to your local cafe. The goal is to avoid sitting still for prolonged periods. Take full advantage of the small snippets of time you have available and make the most of them.
Unfortunately, it’s become common for people in the corporate world to sacrifice sleep in order to work longer hours. In fact, many people brag about their sleep deficit as if it were a trophy showcasing how productive they are.
In this short Ted Talk, Arianna Huffington speaks about the power of getting a good night’s sleep. Being well-rested increases one’s productivity and happiness, and leads to smarter decision-making. In her subsequent book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, she delves into sleep science to reveal the vital role sleep plays in our every waking moment and every aspect of our health–from weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease to cancer and Alzheimer’s.
When you sleep well, you’ll have more energy. This means you’ll be motivated to work out more, and you’ll find it easier to make healthy decisions. Sleep deprivation also causes an increase in production of endocannabinoids, which have been linked to increased appetite and overeating.
Set a bedtime for yourself, and do your best to go to sleep at the appropriate hour. Some tips for getting a better nights sleep include avoiding screen time 30 minutes before bed, avoiding caffeine after 2pm, or doing some light yoga or meditation. You’ll notice an improvement not only with your decision-making, but also with your workouts, work performance, and overall happiness.
4. Pick the Right Gym For You
Your environment has a great effect on your behavior and productivity. Have you noticed that you tend to work better at your favorite coffee shop, or at a certain spot in your office? The same concept applies for exercise. You’ll work out more regularly and enjoy it more if you go to a gym or fitness studio that’s right for you.
A few things you may want to look for in a gym or studio:
Location — You’ll be more likely to work out if your gym or studio is conveniently located close to your home or workplace.
Atmosphere — You want to enjoy your time as much as possible, so a comfortable and pleasant atmosphere is important.
Trainer or Instructor — If you opt for a personal trainer or a class led by an instructor, it’s crucial that you like and respect this person. Not only do you want to find someone who makes you feel at ease, you want to make sure they are an expert in their field to guide you toward your fitness goals.
Just You Fitness has several locations for you to choose from, and all of our trainers are certified fitness professionals. All of our studios provide a private training space with state-of-the-art equipment. You can even listen to your own playlist during your session!
Having a busy schedule doesn’t mean you can’t find time to be fit and healthy. Some of the most successful people have learned the art of developing good habits to succeed in both fitness and their careers. And now you can too!