Find time for fitness this STRESS-tember
There’s a reason it’s known as STRESS-tember. You have too much to do at work, at home, and in your social life and healthy habits take a back seat because you’re just ‘too busy.’
The reality is Canadians are fitting more activities than ever into their days. In a national survey of working Canadians, one-third of respondents feel they have more work to do than time permits. That number rises to 40 per cent when family roles are taken into account.
We’re so busy we tell ourselves we don’t have time for anything else…especially exercise. In another Canadian study, 44% of respondents said they had no time for regular physical activity and almost a third (31%) said they end up spending time commuting instead of being physically active.
According to Nsuani Baffoe, personal training manager for downtown Toronto with GoodLife Fitness, a lot of this chronic busy-ness is not always as bad as it seems, and it’s possible to find time for exercise. In fact, the busier and more stressed out you are, the more you can benefit from a workout. Exercise increases your overall sense of wellbeing and contributes to endorphin production, which makes you feel happier and more content. It also helps you sleep better and think more clearly, to better multi-task your way through it all.
The key is to take a look at the time-sucking activities (hint: it’s staring at screens) and FIND the time to exercise and prepare healthy food options. To get the right amount of exercise all we need is 1.8% of our time - just one hour three times a week.
Some ways to escape your stress and fit in a workout include:
Take stock of your time use. Track your activities for a few days. You may find you’re not quite as busy as you feel – maybe you spend 15 minutes every morning scrolling through social media, or you watch TV every night for two hours. Identify non-essential activities that are slowing you down and reassign that time to physical activity.
Schedule your workout like an appointment (and stick with it). By putting exercise into your calendar, you’re making it a priority, equal to work, paying the bills, shopping for groceries. It’s also more difficult to cancel when it’s right there in your calendar.
Tailor workouts to how you’re feeling. If you’re exhausted and stressed, you want a workout that will leave you feeling stronger and revitalized. Baffoe suggests yoga or Pilates routines for stress-release and posture improvement. Or try a simple bodyweight circuit with squats, lunges, push-ups, and crunches. Strength exercises can be done anywhere and are great for posture and toning. Bonus: both workouts help you sleep better.
Be more efficient. Try HIIT or Tabata workouts if you’re short on time. This approach means you push yourself for a short time, followed by less rest, so your work is over sooner. Just 15 minutes of HIIT (combining cardio and strength moves) once a week can have the same benefits as about 300 minutes of cardio.
Simplify your goals. If your goals are too ambitious, there’s a good chance you won’t achieve them. Try setting more bite-sized, easy goals you know you can achieve. Instead of ‘hit the gym for one hour every day’ try ‘do something active every day and hit the gym 3-4 times this week.’
Build exercise into your work and family time. At work: ditch the car and commute by bike, take regular breaks for stretching and exercise, and schedule walking meetings. Friends and family: Meet up for a group fitness class, take advantage of the fall months to jump on your bikes and tour the neighbourhood, or take the dog to the park to reconnect with your loved ones.
Nsuani Baffoe and fitness experts in your area are available to talk more about the best approach to fit in more exercise into your busy routine in STRESS-tember and beyond. They can demonstrate time-saving workout ideas (HIIT and Tabata), as well as some great exercises to reduce stress and maximize the impact of every workout.