Moving When Your Day Is Packed

Wed 11 Sep 2019

Moving When Your Day Is Packed

By Todd Williams*

THE GIST: We’ve all got packed days, but if we build movement into our routines and add exercise to something we’re already doing, it’ll help us carve out time. By reducing our roadblocks, like getting to the gym itself or using equipment to get our workout in, we’ll make it easier to reach our goals.

THE LONGER READ: Many people love to be busy and wear it like a badge of honor. As we each take on more, it can be difficult to find time for the things that are essential to our well-being, like exercise.

Do you have a chronically packed day? Rather than trying to add exercise as one more thing, decide what parts of your day are essential to who you want to be, and if exercise is one of those things.

I know all about packed days — I’ll line one thing up after the next in a never-ending to-do list. And to be the best at what I do, I routinely reflect on what I’m filling my days with and compare that with who I want to be. Am I giving adequate time to the essentials?

I believe that some form of exercise is critical for everyone — and that finding time in a packed schedule is important for everyone.

BUILD MOVEMENT INTO YOUR ROUTINE: By adding a movement habit into your established routine, you’ll get at least some exercise in, even on the days when you don’t have time for a full workout. To start, I recommend thinking about the type of movement you don’t do enough or a movement you want to do more. Then, make those the movements you do every single day.

ADD EXERCISE TO SOMETHING YOU’RE ALREADY DOING: If you already spend up to an hour mindlessly scrolling the internet or watching TV, why not move while you do it? Get on a treadmill and put your favorite tv show on. Get outside in your wheelchair and put on the latest episode of your favorite podcast or audiobook as you roll down the sidewalk. Challenge yourself to complete a certain number of repetitions of an exercise for every 30-45 minutes you spend looking at a screen.

THE ACTIVITY CHALLENGE: If you know you won’t have time for a dedicated workout, pick one exercise and set a goal to complete it by the end of the day.

Set a goal like 300 push-ups by the end of the day and then break it up into sets of 10-25 or whatever you’re comfortable with to get you to your goal. You can also see how many squats you can complete in 30 seconds and choose a total number of sets you want to complete throughout the day. Or you can set a total amount time you want to spend propelling yourself in your wheelchair and break it up into two to five minute increments throughout the day.

You could also set the goal of doing 10 repetitions of exercise for each joint of the body and spend two to three minutes completing activity each day. Instead of spending an hour at the gym and dealing with everything that goes along with that, you can spend two to three minutes completing various activities throughout your day and reap the benefits of added movement. 

REDUCE THE ROADBLOCKS: Many of my workouts can last for two to three hours if I’m not careful, but I don’t spend all this time working out. If I’m going to go to the gym, I have to pack a bag with clothes ready for whatever I am going to do next, drive to the gym, and put my stuff in the locker room. Then after the workout I have to shower, change, and drive back to wherever I’m going next. I usually only spend an hour to 90 minutes exercising, but I can easily spend 3 hours “working out”.  So I try to cut down on roadblocks.

Here some ideas you can use to do that, too. You can work out at home or get your heart rate going without any equipment. I’m a sucker for running in beautiful areas and I often look for new, exciting places to explore on my runs. But on the days when my schedule is packed, I opt to run wherever I might be because it gets the job done.

You can also plan your workouts to maximize efficiency by tying it to other activities to make your day go a little smoother. 

I don’t think most of us will get away from our busy schedules anytime soon. And if we’re not careful, various activities and projects can keep us from taking care of ourselves. Because I have cerebral palsy my body tells me right away when I am not keeping up with my exercises. And these exercises allow me to do everything I do, so I stay active on even the most hectic days. I hope you can find the time, too, because mobility matters. 

STEPtember to Remember: Blogging It Out is a series by Todd Williams, CPARF’s STEPtember Fitness Ambassador. Todd is a traveling physical therapist who’s training for the 2019 New York City Marathon — and he has cerebral palsy. The posts featured in this series showcase his personal perspective.

*This blog series doesn't constitute professional medical advice. Only you and your doctor know what's best for you, so please consult your doctor for medical advice. This blog series also shouldn't be read or construed to contain any medical advice or medical endorsement by Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation.

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