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Make exercise a priority

exerciseMost of us know that getting exercise is important if you are trying to lose weight. Even if you aren’t trying to lose weight, exercise is the single best thing you can do to improve your health. It prevents heart disease, helps you sleep better, improves your mood, boosts your immune system, prevents osteoporosis, increases your strength, and many other things.  In short, exercise can help you live a longer and healthier life. So, why aren’t we ALL exercising on a regular basis? Well, we get busy with our jobs, families, chores, and other things on our to-do list. Basically, life gets in the way and we fail to make exercise a priority.

Given all the benefits of exercise, it’s important to find a way to move exercise to the top of our to-do list. The first step is to change the way we think about exercise – as a MUST do vs. a NICE to do activity. Here are four ways I prioritize exercise over other activities and/or tasks in my life:

  1. I like my kitchen clean and dishes put in the dishwasher. However, if you come to my house mid-morning, you’ll find a sink full of dirty dishes (and my bed unmade) while I’m at the pool swimming laps. It’s certainly not ideal, but I know I’ll get to those dishes after lunch or dinner. For me, it’s harder to fit in exercise later in the day.
  2. My bedtime is 9:30 or 10:00pm, which is a couple hours earlier than most people I know. Why do I go to bed so early? So I can get up early and fit in my exercise. Staying up late and watching TV is fun, but I’ve learned that I need the energy boost that exercise provides to get through each day.
  3. In the afternoon, I often pick up my kids at school in my exercise clothes (and sweaty from my workout). Would I rather be bathed and dressed nicely when I interact with other moms at school? Absolutely! But I’ve prioritized exercise over looking (and smelling) nice for my friends.
  4. When possible, I schedule meetings and conference calls around my normal workout times. When it is NOT possible, I come up with creative ways to fit exercise into my day. Sometimes that means breaking up my workout. For example, I’ll squeeze in 15 minutes in the morning and another 15 minutes at night.

Besides prioritizing workouts above housekeeping, TV time, and hygiene, it’s important to remember that your workouts don’t need to be hour-long affairs! Some people feel like if they can’t fit in a 60 minute workout, it’s not worth doing. However, getting 30 minutes of exercise is sufficient and extremely beneficial. So, take the time to figure out what tasks or chores you can move down the list so that exercise moves to the top. In turn, you will be healthier, happier, and have more energy to tackle the other priorities in your life!

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