Not being able to find time to fit exercise into a busy lifestyle is the single most frequent excuse we hear. Remember that you should consider it a priority every day to make mind time, food time and body time. Body time is the time when you could take activity – if not every day, then at least three times a week. If you’re still not managing daily ‘body time’ – then try… and keep trying. Once you get into the habit of ‘time for you’ it’s easier, especially if you plan ahead. Each morning as soon as you wake up decide what you’re going to do for your body, and when, and stick to it.
Also bear in mind that many people who start to take regular exercise report that as a result they actually accomplish more in a day than they did before. The exercise refreshes them and ‘sharpens them up’, so they achieve more – thus saving time!
It is true that some exercises are more efficient than others. For example, dancing is good for aerobic fitness, strength and tone and suppleness, so this would save your having to do two or more different types of exercise to improve or maintain overall fitness. Cycling, on the other hand, is good for aerobic fitness and leg strength but will not improve upper body strength or flexibility, so you would have to combine cycling with flexibility and upper body exercises, taking up more of your time.
If your time is genuinely short, don’t be pushed into the trap of thinking that to be fit you need to spend ages on a program – you don’t. Just one hour a week divided, say, into three ten- minute toning and stretch sessions, plus three ten-minute aerobic sessions (e.g., brisk walking, 7-minute workout) will make you fitter if your current fitness level is very poor. More time might be better – but doing something is always better than doing nothing when time is limited. Also remember you can do more exercise in your less busy weeks, and do a ‘hold’ program on very busy weeks.
Lastly, reconsider your attitude to ‘exercise’. To get fitter, it’s not necessary to do a set, regular, formal program or class. You can get much fitter – and burn up many extra calories – by simply building more activity into your daily life. Run up the stairs instead of walking (saving time here tool); practise contracting and releasing the muscles in your bottom when sitting at a desk or table, or do ankle-circling for improved joint mobility.
Get into the habit of being more aware of your body throughout the day and moving it whenever you get the chance. If you’re standing waiting for something or someone, do some semi-squats or practise a pelvic tilt – pulling your tummy and bottom in to correct an over-concave lower back. If you’re in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil, do some heel-raises to firm up your calves, or clasp your hands behind your back and pull your arms back for an easy chest stretch exercise. Your body is waiting to be used – use it anytime, not just at formal exercise sessions! (However, always try to make sure your body is warm if you’re doing spur-of-the-moment exercises to avoid any chance of strains.)