This article is directed towards all those folks that are having a hard time getting those workouts in. We often have a tendency to neglect our bodies for what we deem important or necessary. As the saying goes, “You can have the greatest mind in the world, but if you don’t have something to carry it around in, it’s worthless”. The body is the instrument of the mind, so take care of it.
Full-time work, family commitments and life in general can sometimes put a hamper on your fitness, but with the proper planning you can still make time for training. All it takes is a little scheduling and exercise can be efficiently interwoven into your busy day. Here are a few ideas:
Riding your bike or walking to work or school can be one of the best ways to create time for exercise. When you use your commute for exercise, time normally spent sitting in a car is used productively as part of your exercise routine. For example, an eight-mile ride takes about 30 minutes each way. If you do nothing else for exercise the whole week that’s still an hour of exercise each day.
Another benefit is arriving at your job refreshed and alert. It may be tough to get up earlier for the extra commute time but the physical and mental lift you will experience from it will pay big dividends during the traditional “10 a.m. slump” that the average worker experiences. Not to mention the ride home and the benefits derived, such as, blowing away job-related frustrations, so you can be refreshed and ready for family and evening responsibilities.
I personally think that the reason for so many of the mental health issues of our day is the fact that we don’t have any down time. We finish work and then race home in our cars or race to the store and back, or race school and back, etc. With modern technology we get there as fast as we can and shove as much information in as we can, meanwhile, there’s no time to process it all. I think using our commute is one way to deal with this, it buys you the time to process the day, besides the added fitness benefit.
Overcoming The Excuses For Not Commuting
I get too sweaty before work – Clean up in the restroom with a lightly soaped washcloth or babywipes. Meanwhile, get coworkers interested in commuting and lobby your boss to install a shower.
My commute is too far – A lot of communities have public transit (a bus) where you can take your bike with you and then ride home. Heck, even if you have to have someone drop you off in the morning so you can ride home in the evening, isn’t your health worth it? You may even be able to find someone to commute with one-way. (Note: this one works for the first excuse as well)
What about my clothes, etc… – Use a small backpack to carry clothes, lunch and papers or take the week’s clothes to work and change there, then shuttle them home on the weekend. I personally use a file cabinet to keep mine in.
There’s nowhere to change – Dress in your office or use the restroom or a storage room. I have to use the corner of my office where no one can see me through the window when the door is closed.
Now if commuting still won’t work for you, here are some other options:
Consider the early bird special. Getting up in the pre-dawn hours may be the ultimate test of commitment, but it’ll payoff big later on. The benefits you will feel throughout the day are great, although it may take a week or two to start feeling them. In order to be successful, roll out of bed the minute the alarm goes off, the longer you lie there, the harder it is to extricate yourself from your pillow. Sleep loss is the biggest risk with this method, so make up the deficit by going to bed earlier (which is usually not a problem after you’ve been doing this for a few days). It’s vital to get enough rest. Lack of sleep can lead to deep fatigue and poor performance in everything you do.
Another option is the lunch hour. Going for a walk or ride at lunchtime is an easy way to fit in a regular exercise time and it has the added benefit of clearing the cobwebs and making you more productive at work. You can bring your bike and/or a change of clothes to work if needed and you can often get other people from the office involved as well.
Now, I don’t recommend exercising in the evening because of the demands of family, etc… or right before bedtime as it has a tendency to stimulate the mind and body, which results in poor sleep habits. Also, people generally have a tendency to skip evening workouts the most because of fatigue from the day. That’s one of the beauties of using your commute for exercise, even though it’s the end of the day you still have to get home, so you just do it. With that said, if you do have enough time before bed (at least 3 – 4 hours) and you can involve the family, it’s not a bad way to fit some exercise in.
The only other option left is to figure out if there’s somewhere else you visit daily, such as the store, bank, a friends house, etc… and then make sure you bike or walk there always. I have a little old grandmother who’s in her 90’s and fit as can be because she always walked everywhere she went, including the store to get her groceries. Of course the fact that she never had a driver’s license helped.
Finally, to avoid getting bored, you can spice things up a little by exploring a different route, doing intervals, time trials, or hitting the hills for a better workout. You can also find a partner to commute with, bring some music to listen to, or possibly some books on tape.
In closing, remember that walking is always your ace in the hole. You can do it anywhere, in any weather conditions, and it doesn’t take any equipment. So now you don’t have any excuse.