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"Exercise? Oh, I just don't have time..."




"I just don't have time "

Anyone who has seen me for a preventive health visit ("physical") or really almost any other visit may find much of this familiar.


I often listen to frustrations about gaining weight,difficulty losing weight, sleep trouble, or the perennial favorite: "I just don't have any energy."    


More recently, these complaints are followed by "something must be wrong with my thyroid" as somehow the human thyroid gland has ceased to be able to function correctly all of a sudden.  (Yes, true thyroid disease does happen but most of the time your "thyroid" is NOT the problem).  Also, how can we expect our bodies to work well, and us to feel well,  when we don't move, eat like we do move, sleep poorly, and otherwise mistreat them.  Attempting to micromanage thyroid function is not going fix those problems.

During the conversation that follows these complaints, I will ask about other symptoms, diet, sleep, etc., and...(cue the "Jaws" theme....) then come the questions about exercise.   Such as:  "What sort of exercise are you doing now?" "How much?" and"How often?"  


After I ask these questions, I probably involuntarily hold my breath a second, since I know it's coming:


"I just don't have time..."  


(Which is probably greeted with this expression):



Let me just warn anyone who has not been in this situation:   "just don't have time" is not good enough.    Not for me.  And not for you.


Don't Have the Time?


When you say you don't have time, what you really mean is that changing your patterns and your schedule to add exercise is difficult.  Changing a pattern is always difficult;  just getting started is always the hardest part, but once you get over the hump (or maybe mountain),  exercising becomes your pattern, and now that becomes the thing that is hard to change.


No, I am not a heartless ogre, contrary to popular opinion.  I completely understand where that excuse -yes, excuse- comes from.  People have the idea that "exercise" has to mean doing something really unpleasant at a gym for at least an hour, plus traveling to and from this veritable torture chamber.  I will agree that a lot of  people, with normal lives (jobs, kids, family duty,  pets...you know:  a "life") really DON"T have that kind of time.   But you do have some time.




How? Where? What?


Many folks  think they have to suffer in public  in some formal class or extreme program with lots of yelling and sweating and pain.  No pain, no gain, right?  Wrong.  If you can walk, then walk.  Outside is preferred (use a  hat/sunscreen/parasol/whatever, if you will be out long) and there are too many parks to be able to avoid.  Your neighborhood road would suffice if it is not dangerous from traffic.  Heck, you can walk back and forth in your driveway, laps in the parking lot of your apartments or make a circuit inside if you need to start there or the weather is bad.


The local Y's are great for some of the days, with indoor and outdoor walking areas at the bigger ones, and also all the other scary equipment which can be shown how to use by a trainer.  This is great to add if you wish, starting very low on the weights.  The pool is perfect for folks with mechanical problems, such as back or knee Arthur-itis, and just walking back and forth across the shallow end is a great workout.   Use the stationary bikes, also,  if you have back or knee problems.


Exercise tapes work for a lot of people.  The Nintendo Wii is an amazing video game console and the Wii Fit game has a number of "games" for balance, strength, and even cardio which are also FUN.  I highly recommend this machine.  (product endorsement NOT paid for).


When? What time is best?


You can find recommendations for either morning, evening, mid-day,whatever and various reason why.


Honestly, it makes no significant difference.  The best time is whenever you can.


How often?


My suggestion is to do something every day, if at all possible.  Start slow and add time slowly.  If you can just do two or three days a week, that is fine, too.  Anything is better than nothing!  (I should copyright that phrase, I say it so much.)


"Ok, I might actually start"


So, if you have progressed all the way to actually contemplating exercising  (gotta start somewhere , right?)  the first stage is "I will exercise today... if I have time."   Let me just get you through that stage quickly:  If you you wait to see if you have time, guess what:  you won't.  There are too many other things that will get in the way. Including nothing. 


You have to put exercise on the schedule.


As in:  "I will walk/jog/ride/stagger/whatever, for 10 minutes at __o'clock  today"...and then DO IT.  TODAY, not tomorrow or next week. 




You have 10 minutes, what are you waiting for?




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