Did you know that there are 168 hours in a week? Go ahead, count them. Seems like a lot, doesn’t it?
In a previous post “Time Well Spent,” I introduced the concept of time as it relates to our leisure time and what amount of time is really left over.
To briefly summarize, within the 168 hours, 40 hours are used for work, school or other obligated time. This is for an average person. Sleeping uses up 56 hours in a week, which equals 8 hours per night if we are lucky. I know some of you are saying, “Yeah, right…” Again, this is the average. What is left over is 72 hours a week for personal care which includes leisure time.
Your challenge is to find three hours a week for fitness. Out of 168 hours in a week, three hours should be do-able.
Let’s tackle this step-by-step.
Step 1: Assess your health. Are you overweight? Are you unable to exercise due to a medical condition or disability? In any case it is wise to check with your medical professional before you embark on any fitness program.
Step 2: Identify barriers preventing you from exercising. Some of these barriers are geographical, environmental and structural.
Geographical barriers can be where you work in relation to where you live. Do you have a long commute to and from work? This can eat into your personal care time. Do you live in a part of the country with extreme weather conditions that may prevent you from simply walking outdoors? If your workplace does not have amenities like a gym or area for exercise, this can be a big deterrent to finding time for fitness.
Environmental barriers can include poor access to parks or other leisure spaces in your community. Perhaps there are very few places to safely ride a bicycle near where you live. If you live in an urban environment, walking may be a great exercise option, but even this can be hampered by weather, crowds, events, and other interference.
Structural barriers to fitness and leisure can be money, transportation, clothing and equipment, or even the skills to participate in an activity. Of course, time is the ultimate structural barrier.
Step 3: Assess your interests. Simply put, what do you like to do? What were some fun activities you enjoyed as a young person? Are interested in trying these activities again as an adult? Once you identify your interests, are there barriers getting in your way? This is where many folks talk themselves out of trying something new.
Step 4: Take action. Now that you have chosen your ideal fitness activity, using walking as an example, how will you do this? What time of day works best for you? Can you walk on your lunch break at work? Can you devote 30 minutes, 6 days a week (this equals three hours)? If not, how about one hour per day, three days per week? Thirty minutes per day is the minimum time for optimum cardiovascular fitness.
And yes, you can break up the 30 minutes into smaller increments during the day. Taking three 10-minute walks also counts. Other action steps include taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. While at work, walk the long way around to the break room or to a meeting.
Step 5: Keep it sustainable. Now that you have created a routine, is it sustainable? If you get bored easily, examine why you are bored. For example, if you walk your dog through the same neighborhood day after day, it can get dull. Perhaps you can walk with a friend. If the weather is uncooperative, take a walk in the nearest shopping mall. Perhaps your community has a walking club associated with the neighborhood recreation center. Exercising with others is a good way to stay accountable and not give up. Plus, it’s FUN!
Of course there will be unavoidable interruptions to your scheduled time. Maybe one of those barriers rears its ugly head. If you miss a session, try to add on some time to your other days. Really strive for the full three hours a week.
And finally, take a good look at your time. How valuable is your health compared to the time you have left in the day? We easily get caught up in the hectic pace of life and allow our three hours of fitness to be used up in other ways. Work and family obligations are tough to overcome. Creating a simple daily schedule for your fitness time should be as high a priority as work and family. If you are unwell, you will not be able to work, much less take care of your family.
Here are some more resources for claiming your three hours of fitness time.
Another way to track your fitness and keep an hourly count is with a fitness tracker or mobile app. Click here for that information.
In our busy world, I encourage you to use your leisure time wisely and claim your three hours a week for fitness!