Have you no time to exercise?

Are you one of the millions of people that have no time to exercise?

There was an interesting programme on Radio 4 last week, that looked at how our decision-making is affected when we have too little time. It began by asking the audience of students how many of them felt they had enough time. Surprise, surprise, no-one put their hand up!

Professor Eldar Shafir has conducted experiments to assess how being short of time affects our decision-making ability. As a result, he believes that being short of time may change the way we think and that leads us to making things worse for ourselves.

When you feel a shortage of something, it creates a scarcity mindset; that means that you use a lot of your brain’s “bandwidth” worrying about what you don’t have enough of, so you can’t give enough attention to other important decisions. Professor Shafir found this actually lowers the IQ by 13 points on average – which is more than the effect of losing a night’s sleep! As a result,  you will forget or neglect some important activities which mean you end up worse off tomorrow!

So that got us thinking. Pretty much everyone accepts that regular exercise is something we should do, but many of us say we have no time to exercise. But it may not actually be a lack of time, just our inability to prioritise it, due to other issues crowding out the planning of it.

So if you are short of time, how can you increase your chances of making the right decision? Here are five tried and tested methods

1.       Establish a routine. Once you don’t have to think about something, you’ll do it automatically. So that may mean putting on the running shoes as soon as you get up and going out for a run before the rest of the day crowds in. Or perhaps you put your gym kit in the car so that you can go straight from dropping off the children, or on your way home from work. It takes a bit of effort to establish the routine, but then it’s much easier to maintain
2.       To do lists. Make a to do list and put exercise on it. Cross it off when you’ve done it. Your to do list can be daily or weekly, but the act of planning everything in advance means you don’t have to waste time re-thinking it
3.       Have a strong vision. The stronger your vision of where you want to get to, and the more desperate you are to achieve that, the more likely you are to do what it takes. Heighten that vision by putting a picture of what you want to be somewhere prominent
4.       Plan exercise into your day the night before and set an alarm
5.       Leave half an hour free every day (planned into your diary), to cope with the unexpected tasks. That way you’ll feel more in control of your time