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No time for exercise is never a good excuse

Health & Fitness Column

By far, the most common reason we hear for not exercising is “There’s no time!” The truth, however, is that exercise is mostly a timesaver. Regular exercise is associated with higher levels of energy throughout the day, with increased mental clarity and focus, and with increased life span.

Energy and focus will make your non-exercise time far more productive than it would be if you avoid exercise and, whatever your goals, a longer, healthier life span will help you achieve more in the long run. In almost every case, the truth is that “There’s no time!” really means “It’s not a priority!”

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends cardiorespiratory (aerobic) exercise be performed for at least 150 minutes per week with moderate intensity or at least 75 minutes per week with vigorous intensity, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Strength training should be done two to three days per week. Basically, if your workouts are structured efficiently, at least three hours per week should be devoted to a comprehensive exercise program. I find five hours per week to be best for most people to reach their individual goal, but even 10 minutes here and there where you can fit it in will bring benefits.

‘TIME SHARING’ EXERCISE TIPS

There are three kinds of strategies you can use to make sure that you have plenty of “time for exercise.” First, find ways to integrate your exercise time with your other priorities. For example, if family/social time is a priority, then find activities that you can do together. If music or reading is a priority, listen to music and some “books on tape.” Multi-task by reading or reviewing work materials as you warm up on a stationary bike.

Second, make sure that you have clearly defined goals and that you understand the importance of exercise. Definite goals and a commitment to an active lifestyle will help ensure that exercise stays high on your priority list.

Finally, “permanent exercisers” will usually focus on the positive aspects of exercise (“It’s my quiet time,” “I feel great when I’m in shape”) rather than focusing on the barriers to exercise (“It’s boring!”). If stress reduction is a priority, focus on mental relaxation and deep breathing.

The best way to become a permanent exerciser is to keep these tips in mind. Remember, a healthy lifestyle isn’t just something you do — it is something you are.

OUR MOST PRECIOUS COMMODITY

I have another high school reunion this year; my 35th! I have been to most of them, every five years, and always enjoy catching up with old friends. There’s usually a sad moment though when I learn of another classmate passing away.

The death of friends and family make many of us pause and think of our own mortality. We don’t know how long we have in this life, but each of us has the same 168 hours in a week. How well do you use yours? If we are fortunate enough to live to be 100, how much living have we

actually accomplished? If we have balanced lives (most of us don’t) and we spend eight hours a day sleeping and eight hours a day at a job we don’t really like, how much have we actually lived?

If you subtract the time for chores we must do, mundane activities of daily living and trivial arguments along with other wasted moments, our sands of time are depleting quickly.

What can we do? I certainly don’t have your answer, but I do know we need to enjoy every moment while striving to positively impact the lives around us. We need to find some enjoyment in everything we do, including work and exercise.

We cannot save time by missing sleep and exercise and by eating for convenience instead of nutrition. We will defeat our purpose by dying sooner or losing our muscles’ functional ability as we age.

So, reflect on your life for just a moment, then take action, including devoting five of those

168 hours per week to exercise. Only by doing so, will you have the confidence, energy and ability to enjoy your borrowed time on this planet. What’s your excuse?

Perry Buchanan, owner of PT Gym, is certified as a Health Fitness Specialist through the American College of Sports Medicine, and Fitness Nutrition Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He has been in the fitness industry for more than 35 years.