No time for exercise? 5 ways to squeeze fitness into a busy life
As Martin Bjergegaard discovered when he wrote Winning Without Losing: 66 Strategies for Building a Wildly Successful Business While Living a Happy and Balanced Life, plenty of high-powered people create a healthy work-life balance.
We’ve combined some of their tips with a few of our own to create our top five ways of cramming fitness into your life, however bulging your diary might be.
1. Workout to work
You’ve got to get to work somehow, so why not make a dull commute more interesting by turning it into a workout? Invest in a lightweight rucksack for your essentials and run, cycle or walk to the office. If you do it every other day, take a spare outfit in on non-workout days, ready for your shower and quick change into office clothes.
Too far to run? Get off the bus or train a few stops early and break out the folding bicycle or running shoes. A study by transport data experts INRIX, quoted in an article by the World Economic Forum worked out in which cities it’s actually quicker to walk or cycle than battle that rush hour traffic.
2. Do what you like
Just because everyone else is crazy about running or raving about their hot yoga class, don’t be swept along with the crowd. Put what you really like at the heart of your fitness routine.
You can be as well-meaning as you like but if you don’t like doing an activity, you’ll find a million reasons to skip it. Clueless about your favourite fitness niche? Start playing. Sign up for all kinds of classes and sports. Try different times of day, different locations and different styles until you get into a rhythm that works for you.
3. Be flexible
Choose a workout that you can do any time, any place. If your life is genuinely chaotic, with unexpected meetings and travel taking you away from your best efforts at routine, latch onto a sport that demands minimal equipment and time.
Make it something intense that gets results fast. Forget tai chi or golf - you need something that gets your heart rate up in a short burst. Opt for running or interval training and join a gym chain with multiple branches, so you can work out in different cities.
4. Challenge yourself
Whatever you do, at whatever level, there’s a challenge or competition for it. Sign up to take part - whether it’s a 5k run, a Tough Mudder challenge or a local tennis tournament.
The fear of failing in public could be all the motivation you need to get you focused on your goal, once and for all.
If you can’t find a suitable challenge, make it personal. Measure your progress - whether with a cutting edge gadget, old-fashioned pencil and paper or by taking on a personal trainer at the gym. You’ll notice your own progress and drive yourself onto greater achievements.
5. Band together
Gyms are well aware of the healthy work-life conundrum - that’s why we run early morning classes and stay open late in the evening.
Dawn exercisers in particular tend to bond as a group, united by their commitment to fitness no matter what. Sign up for a regular pre-office class and let that club feel motivate you to get to the gym in the morning, to join your fellow early birds. If you’re usually a night person, Shape magazine has some great tips on getting into an early morning routine.
Whatever works for you - boxing at dawn, lunchtime gym trips or late-night yoga, fitness really has to shift up your list of priorities. Some people genuinely have really challenging lives. If you’re one of them, be focused but don’t be hard on yourself: and remember, just ten minutes is better than nothing.