Too Busy to Work Out?

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day–unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.”
-Zen Proverb

“If you want something to get done, give it to a busy person.”
-Common Saying.

“I’m too busy to work out.” I hear this a lot–more than any other excuse, in fact. A lot of people would work out, so they say, if they had more time. Let’s unpack the statement “I’m too busy to work out.” Okay, so there are a certain number of things you have to do to keep your job, keep your family together and happy, and meet your most basic needs. Now, is there anything else that you do? Anything that isn’t absolutely necessary to keep your life together? Then what you mean when I say “I’m too busy to exercise” is “There are things I do with my discretionary time that are higher priorities than exercising.” You might watch TV, play video games, read the news, talk on the phone, whatever.

Are you okay with that notion, that being healthy is just not as high a priority as those other things? Then be my guest and do those things instead. Otherwise, if you want to make your health a priority, then MAKE YOUR HEALTH A PRIORITY.

“But Jeff, there’s more to it than that…” I know, sometimes it seems like there isn’t enough time in a block to get your exercise in. In that case, you might need to re-think your idea of how much time it takes to exercise. You don’t have to break a sweat, and you can get in some meaningful exercise in ten to twenty minutes. Some of my past newsletters have great ideas for short, energy-boosting workouts in them.

Another thing you can do with ten to twenty minutes? Work IN. In my life I make a distinction between working out–expending energy to get physically stronger–and working in–generating energy to get mentally stronger with activities like meditation and tai chi.

You can also find ways to make longer blocks of time when you can exercise. Every day before I get out of bed, I assess my day and my schedule. Sometimes things can be moved around to create longer blocks of time. Sometimes they can’t, but then I fall back on my short workout strategies.

Another thing that I do to increase the number of long blocks of time I have to exercise is to go to bed very early and get up very early. Most people get up just in time to get the kids to school and make it to work on time, and then stay up later. This leaves a lot of time in the day after work, which also happens to be the time of day when you are most drained and least able to act according to your priorities. By shifting my day around, I end up having more time where I am active and alert that I can devote to keeping myself healthy.

You will find that the more you take the opportunities in your day to work out (or work in) the easier it will be to find more of those opportunities. You will get more energy back out of fitness than you will spend getting fit.

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