Can You Dedicate Three Hours a Week to Physical Activity?

Can You Dedicate Three Hours a Week to Physical Activity?
Can You Dedicate Three Hours a Week to Physical Activity?
Original image from Pexels

As I continue writing my No Excuses Fitness book, my goal on this blog is to post an article about fitness at least once a month.

Over 4 years ago I wrote an article about how much time we all need to dedicate to being physically active. This is an update to that post.

Did you know that there are 168 hours in a week? Go ahead, count them. Seems like a lot.

To briefly summarize, within this 168 hours, 40 hours are used for work, school or your vocation. This is for an average person. Sleeping uses up 56 hours in a week, which equals 8 hours per night, if we are lucky. 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 physical activity. Out of 168 hours in a week, three hours should be do-able. I created this info-graphic to show how the hours are broken down.

Can You Dedicate Three Hours a Week to Physical Activity?

Can You Dedicate Three Hours a Week to Physical Activity?

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? Do you simply need more motivation to be physically active?

Step 2: Identify barriers preventing you from exercising. Some of these barriers include 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 physical activity.

Environmental barriers 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 that can be hampered by weather, crowds, events, and other deterrents.

Structural barriers to physical activity can be money, transportation, clothing and equipment, or even the skills to participate in an activity.

Lack of 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 you interested in trying these activities again as an adult? Once you identify your interest, are there barriers getting in your way? This is where many folks talk themselves out of trying something new.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Step 4: Take action. Now that you have chosen your ideal fitness activity, let’s say “walking”, 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 (equals three hours) to walking? 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. 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. Even adding a few extra steps can add up to small time increments getting added in to your fitness time.

day planner

I work on my university campus two days a week. For my night class, I purposely park close to where the classroom is, so when I finish, I can walk safely to my car. But this means I have to walk at least 10 minutes to get to the building where my office is located. From the parking lot to the office and back to the classroom is at least 20 minutes broken up into 10. And I take the 4 flights up the stairs on days I’m not lugging my rolling cart.

Step 5: Mix up your routine once you take action. Add a few more minutes to your current workout. Try cross training. This can be as simple as trying a new exercise or activity. If you belong to a gym, try a spin class, zumba or boot camp. Adding a completely new and different type of workout exercises new muscles and can invigorate your fitness routine. If gyms are not your thing, check into your local recreation center for exercise or active leisure classes.

Now that I am staring 60 in the face, I also recognize the value of strength training. Even just 20-30 minutes, two days a week of light weights can help strengthen your bones and muscles.

Woman lifting barbell

Step 6: Sustainability. Now that you have created an exercise 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.

I started walking weekly with a friend from the gym who is also my hair stylist. We walk for no less than one hour exploring nearby neighborhoods and she graciously walks with one of my two dogs.

Joining structured fitness classes with regular attendees and instructors can also be an incentive.

women lifting weights

If the weather is uncooperative, take a walk in the nearest shopping mall (leave your $ and credit cards at home). 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!

man and woman pushing stroller

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 physical activity 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, or take care of your family.

See more of what other folks are doing for their fitness and health!

Janet Mary Cobb A2Z Holistic Self-care: A is for Ask

Sue’s Sizzling Toward Sixty and Beyond Active April

In our busy world, I encourage you to use your time wisely and claim your three hours a week for physical activity!

© Infographic and content copyright-protected. Some images provided by Unsplash

Breaking Barriers of Self-Doubt in Leisure

Face your fears. Windsurfing in Baja, Mexico.

Face your fears. Windsurfing in Baja, Mexico.

If you keep up with my blog, you know I share my perspectives on leisure. My Leisurely Thursday feature is my platform for introducing and discussing concepts related to leisure education as well as to illuminate why leisure is a basic need in our lives.

Today’s focus is on self-inflicted barriers that prevent us from participating in our leisure past-times.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Are you a person who inadvertently creates obstacles that prevent you from enjoying your leisure time? Actually, we all do to some degree. The good news is, we have the ability to overcome the fear, the barriers, and the obstacles that potentially rob us of our joy.

Using myself as an example, many of you know that I am a windsurfer. I am not a confident windsurfer. I began this very late in life (age 49) and this is an extremely difficult sport/hobby to learn. I have been athletic my entire life and learning most sports came easily to me. Not this one.

Although I have sailed at the delta these past six seasons, I am still anxious about going out. Wind conditions change daily and the water can be fickle due to high or low tides.

Never mind sailing in a daunting ocean environment.

Fear. It hits me.

Every. Single. Time.

Self-doubt about our abilities in leisure is common. What is it that we fear? Injury? Humiliation? Failure? All of the above?

Without going into details of getting my windsurf gear past the shore break, I had some difficulty the day before. I convinced myself that I was NOT EVER going to windsurf again.

Lured by another gorgeous day of sun and perfect wind the next day, I really wanted to prove to myself that I could do this. It is hard to tell in the picture, but those waves were cresting at 5 feet high.

I was terrified.

My hubby captured this moment in the photo above.

Within a few feet of shore, the water was over my head and I could not touch the bottom. Once I got the board and sail organized, I had to push it out past the cresting waves and sail from a water start position. I still had a little trouble, but I got up and sailed into the surf. Gawd, it was fun!

These are the times in our leisure moments that getting past that barrier of self-doubt begins the process of success.

I still experience fear and anxiety about sailing and probably always will. The fear of looking stupid is as strong as the fear of failing so miserably that I must perform the walk of shame or crawl unceremoniously out of the water onto the rocks.

But…it sure does feel fantastic when I experience a grand sailing session.

Windsurfing in La Ventana, Baja

My friend, Jessica Edouard, on her blog, Send Sunshine posted this recently.
Hysterical Blindness

“Inside our hearts, we have the ability to overcome the obstacles created within our mind”

Coincidentally, she not only articulated some thoughts related to my post, she used one of the photos I had sent her of sunflowers. She does brilliant work with her photos and shares an inspirational post every DAY!! Please check out her blog!

 

I challenge you to “do one thing every day that scares you.” 

Pushing past that barrier is very esteeming to us and we need these successful moments in our leisure time regardless of the complexity of the activity.

What will you do to push past your fear of participating in a new leisure activity?


 

I hope you enjoyed this small excerpt from the e-book I am writing.

Seven Summer Fitness Strategies

Family-Fitness

Seniors-enjoying-water-Aerobics
image by Kimberly Glaster; used by permission

It is no secret that being physically fit prevents illness, keeps or gets us lean, and is ideal for overall health. Everyone has their own definition of fitness. Although May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, fitness should be an attainable goal all year long.

The trouble with summer fitness is…it’s hot outside! Heat for many can be a huge deterrent to consistent exercise. Other barriers to working out in the summer-time? Vacations and travel, chasing kids, new injuries as a result of weekend warrior syndrome, and other pesky summer issues.

If you have any doubts about your exercise and fitness regimen, here are some summer fitness strategies and tips to freshen up your summer routine and keep you healthy and motivated.

1. What are your time obligations during the summer?  Does the nature of your job change with the seasons? Perhaps you are a seasonal worker, college student, or school-teacher. A drastic change in work routine can be a barrier to finding the right time to exercise. Squeeze in short walks throughout the day. Shorter spurts of exercise, such as 10 minutes of walking spaced throughout the day, offer benefits too. Make lunchtime count. While at work, keep a pair of walking shoes at your desk, and take a brisk walk during your lunch break.

If your summer evenings are free and it is cooler to exercise, try these tips: 

  • Start a walking group. Round up friends, neighbors or co-workers for regular group walks. Plan routes through your neighborhood or near your workplace, along local parks and trails, or in a nearby shopping mall. Simply walking or jogging with a friend can be an added incentive to continue your workouts.Boredom is a workout killer and having a friend along can help keep you both accountable.
  • Visit your community recreation center or local swimming pool. Many recreation programs are offered after work hours. Join a club or summer sport team. In a recent post, “Who Says Adults Can’t Have Recess” there are non-competitive alternatives for organized sports

If evenings don’t work, try getting up earlier. The sun is up earlier on summer mornings, so an early morning walk or run can kick-start your day. Wake up 30 minutes earlier twice a week to exercise. Once you’ve adjusted to early-morning workouts, add another day or two to the routine.

If your days are limited, add more time to your workout. If you are walking for 20 minutes, add five more minutes to your time over the next two weeks. When you feel ready, add another five minutes, and so on. In a previous post, I suggested ways to get three hours a week for fitness.

2. If your exercise has become boring, revamp your routine. Your weekly Saturday matinee with the kids could become a weekly Saturday bike ride, rock-climbing lesson or trip to the pool. Choose acFamily-Fitnesstivities you enjoy and you will be more likely to stay interested.

Try cross training. This can be as simple as trying a new exercise or activity. If you belong to a gym, try a spin class, zumba or body pump. Adding new exercises and rotating through different type of activities, such as walking, swimming and cycling, works out new muscles and can invigorate your fitness routine.

3. No energy to exercise? Without exercise, you’ll have no energy. It’s a vicious cycle. Perhaps you are a stay-at-home-parent and spend your summers chasing your kids. Longer summer evenings mean more time for evening fitness activities with your family. After dinner, get everyone moving during a brisk evening walk.

4. Are you a weekend warrior who is nursing a sports injury? Get professional help from a certified expert, who can monitor your movements and point you in the right direction. If your injury is serious, visit a sports medicine physician, who can evaluate you and recommend specific treatment, such as physical therapy.

If you belong to a gym, hiring a personal trainer can boost your workout as well as introduce you to new exercises. A trainer can motivate you and give you the proper exercises to help heal the injury and get you back on track.

5. If you are planning a long vacation or holiday where traveling will take you away from your routine, try these suggestions:

  • If your vacation takes you into the outdoors on a daily basis, embrace what the area has to offer. Plan ahead and pack the right shoes, clothing and equipment to enjoy the hiking trails, the lakes or other wonderful leisure spaces available to you.
  • Are you staying in a resort or hotel? Check to see what amenities it offers to guests.
  • If you are traveling and visiting friends or family members, ask them what they do for exercise. If you belong to a national chain health club, find a nearby gym and schedule time to go. Or visit their gym as a guest. Just about every neighborhood has a local park with recreation facilities like jogging/walking trail, tennis courts, club house or swimming pool. Again, plan ahead by asking your hosts for the name of the organization and check their online class schedule.

6. Quantify what you have accomplished so far. Keeping a record over a period of time and seeing results can be extremely motivating. Write down how many days you exercise, for how long, record any inches or weight lost (or gained). Do your clothes feel looser? Keeping an exercise journal can be very simple, from jotting on a notepad to keeping track on a mobile app. By writing things down, you can visually see what you have accomplished and see what else you might need to do to adjust.

7. Check out your gear. If you are wearing the same old shoes you’ve had since 2011, look for wear and tear to make sure you aren’t causing harm to your feet, knees and legs. If you swim, take a close look at your goggles or perhaps fins if using them. Many stores have summer clearance sales. Now is the time to buy something new to add to your exercise wardrobe. Nothing like a bright color to put a spring in your step!

Don’t let hot weather prevent you from getting your exercise each day. Don’t let a couple of setbacks be a barrier to regular exercise. Life can get in the way and disrupt our routines. Unfortunately, it seems easier to abandon our exercise plans when faced with time constraints or other barriers.

We all need to live balanced lives, and committing to leisure in the form of exercise in a consistent manner can lead to better health and happiness!