blog Oct 31, 2015

If you have been following along, we are currently working through the six components of health. The first article in this series showed just how important it is to get enough sleep and to manage stress and the health effects, both positive and negative that accompany those. In my last article, we addressed the importance of balanced nutrition and just how critical eating correctly really is to losing weight and maintaining optimal internal health. Today, let's see where exercise fits into the picture. And for some, therein lies the problem.

Ask most people today what would make their lives easier and I bet you'll hear something like, "If I only had a little more time...." or "If I could only add a few hours to my day...." Time. It's a precious commodity and one of the only things we as a society spend frugally on ourselves these days.

When it comes to health, rather than spending time, I prefer to think of it as investing time. The simple reason being that spending is typically a brief, one-time transaction with immediate, yet short-term gain. Investing on the other hand implies that there will be growth over time with an expectation of receiving something of much greater value down the road. Unlike financial portfolios however, any investment in your health, big or small, the reward always outweighs the risk.

In order to get the best rate of return on your investment of exercise, you must first find out what you need or want that investment to do for you, what will work with your lifestyle, and how much time you have to invest. If finding even small amounts of time to invest consistently is a proving to be a challenge, back up one step and start with lifestyle. I'm going to use families with young children as my example as I believe this is the time in life when adults tend to find the time that was formerly dedicated to an exercise program is now being divided amongst the number of activities their children have. Sound like anyone you know?

Here's the deal. You have a spouse, a job, kids, and like most kids they have activities after school and on weekends. So, unless you are a morning workout person and git r done before everyone is up and heading out the door, you are most likely struggling to find time to get in consistent workouts. My suggestion comes from a mom I know who was so determined to improve her fitness level, she kept searching until she found a way that would work and what she came up with is not only genius, it's doable for almost everyone.

First thing you need to do is break out the calendar and get a visual of what your week really looks like with regards to commitments and demands on your time. With kids, most of those will be driving them to and from things like swimming lessons, karate, hockey, gymnastics, etc. Next, make a note of the facility you are driving your child to and what's available there or in the near vicinity. Now make a note of how long your child is at each activity and whether you usually stay to watch, or continue driving and dropping kids.

To start off with, make a list of the days and times where you drive your child to an activity and sit and watch and beside each one write down what is available in the facility where they are or in the near vicinity. Are you beginning to see where I'm going with this? If you child is in swimming lessons for one hour and there is a gym in the same building, that's a great time to get a workout in. If you are a hockey parent, rather than sitting and chatting with the other parents, why not wear your running shoes and walk or run up and down the bleachers? Karate, gymnastics may not offer any options other than watching or taking their own class at a different time, so why not grab some other parents that also sit and watch and go for a power walk or jog?

The great thing about exercise is that it all counts and something is always better than nothing. By making the effort to get your workout in when your kids are doing theirs, you are leading by example, letting your kids know that you value health and fitness as a lifestyle and will make an effort to get it in. Kids inherit the environment they grow up in and by that same principle, kids who grow up with parents who put off exercise and don't invest in healthy habits, group up with the message that health isn't really all that important.

Parents, you are not only your kids' biggest cheerleaders, but their most influencial examples as well. So this week, I challenge you to check your kids' schedules and instead watching from the sidelines, bring your runners, workout gear or bathing suit and begin making investments in your health.

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