Active lifestyle – impossible to achieve?
Where there’s a will, there’s a way – yet so many of us are using the excuse of not having enough time to avoid exercising. Sure, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but being active and involved in some sport will get you even further. We all know it, but still… there’s always SOMETHING. You keep telling yourself you simply cannot organise your day to have enough time to dedicate yourself to an active lifestyle. Whether it’s taking care of the kids or running around doing various errands, it seems that the modern everyday lifestyle doesn’t leave you enough time for any physical activity.
Even amid the global pandemic and shifting our office desk jobs for work at home desk jobs, it doesn’t seem our tasks and daily duties have decreased. The transition has been a challenging one, both physically and mentally for many working people around the globe. While faced with something so unusual, many of us had little motivation for any hobbies, let alone for exercise.
As a result of a lifestyle change, a lot of people have started experiencing some of the consequences due to lack of movement: back pain and muscle aches were just some medical terms many working people haven’t concerned themselves with, until now. Whether you are working 9-5 in the office or at home, it can still seriously affect your overall health if you don’t turn your lifestyle into an active one. It might seem impossible, but staying organised, disciplined, and consistent will help you shape your everyday life around this new active hobby. Here are our 5 main tips on how to stay active while working 9-5.
1. Make a schedule and stick to it
There are lots of great apps that can help you stay organised, but a simple To-do list or writing down your daily tasks in a simple notebook or on your phone’s calendar can be effective as well. Some people prefer to plan their whole week ahead, while others like to have the ability to switch things up, so they plan only a day ahead. You need to find what works best for you and stick to it.
Most of us already know which part of our day is dedicated to working, and if it’s 9-5 for you, then use that as a foundation.
If you are an early bird, you can fit half an hour of yoga into your, or you could schedule an evening workout when you are done with your job. If you choose to do a HIIT workout three times a week, then choose which days will you dedicate to exercising so the rest of your errands and tasks can be scheduled for any other day that works for you.
Here’s an example of how your daily schedule could look with a morning workout scheme:
7 A.M.: Wake up
7.15 A.M.: Brush teeth
7:30 A.M.: Half an hour of pilates
7:50 A.M.: Shower
8 A.M.: Coffee and breakfast, reading the news
8:30 A.M.: Commute to work
9 A.M. – 5 P.M.: Work
5:30 P.M.: Dentist appointment
6 P.M.: Grocery shopping
6:30 P.M.: Commute back home
7 P.M.: Dinner preparation, cooking, doing the dishes
8:15 P.M.: Reading a book or watching a film
10 P.M.: Bedtime.
Obviously, you can switch things up and instead go to a recreational football game with your friends after work, but that is up to you. The whole point of scheduling your daily tasks is to give you an overview of everything that needs to be done so that you could find time for exercise. Starting with an active lifestyle might be a bit hard, but once it becomes your lifestyle, you’ll realize it’s all about time management. In addition to improving your mood and shedding some extra pounds if you have them, being physically active on regular basis can help you prevent and manage a wide range of health problems.
Scheduling your exercise will also prevent you from skipping out on them entirely if you treat them like an actual appointment. Even if you just workout at home or jog at the park, pretend like it is an actual fitness class to keep you from making excuses.
2. Get up early
Dedicating yourself to an active lifestyle means one more task to do among all the others that you already have. Besides work, there’s always something: family matters, hanging out with friends, hobbies, or even side projects. So, make sure there’s enough time in your day to do everything without stressing. Sure, those 5 extra minutes in bed are a blessing, but they could cost you your sanity by the end of the day. So, make sure you get up early.
Even if you decide to work out in the evenings, by getting into a habit of getting up early, you’ll see how much time there is for you in a day to catch up on all the other errands. For example, you can use the extra time in the morning to prepare your gym bag and put it in your car, so you’ll be ready to head out to the gym straight from the office. Also, mornings are great for meditation because, with a clear mind, you’ll be more relaxed and ready to take on the day. Maybe you can use your mornings for coffee, contemplation, and listening to your favourite podcast while also doing your taxes – multitasking is a skill worth mastering.
Don’t hesitate from getting up early just because you are not a morning person. You can easily become one and morning exercise can help you with that. There are various health benefits when it comes to exercising in the morning, starting from the fact that during the early hours, the body is in excellent condition for movement, muscle growth, and repair. So, while you are still a newbie to an active lifestyle, maybe give it a go for a week and see if it’s something you could dedicate yourself to. Developing a morning exercise routine that works for you should leave you feeling awake and replenished with energy levels.
Don’t stress, though – if you prefer evening exercise, then do that. Listen to your body and do what’s best for you.
3. Meal prep
Another great way to save some time and make more room in your day for exercise is to plan ahead what you’ll eat. A big part of an active lifestyle isn’t just being active with your body, it also involves all the things you are putting into your body. If you are not already dedicated to eating healthy, then this might come as a shock to you. It’s not easy saying goodbye to take out food and I know how much more practical it is to just stop at a drive-through on your way home, but cooking meals each day will have more benefits for your health. Also, it’s fun! Maybe you don’t consider yourself to be an excellent chef, but there are so many easy and simple recipes that you can try before getting a grip on this.
If you don’t like coming home and having to figure out what you’re going to eat for dinner, take a few moments once per week to sit down and plan your weekly meal plan. It might seem tiring and that it’s another thing that will take too much of your time, but I promise you – it’s life-changing once it becomes a habit.
Firstly, when you plan what your meals are going to look like for the entire week, you’ll know exactly what to buy when you go to the supermarket. That way, you can say goodbye to the expired food in your fridge forever. No more food waste, which is great for the environment too! And you’ll save money – no more buying food you don’t need and will never eat. When you have a meal plan, you know exactly which ingredients you need to buy for the dishes you’ll be preparing.
There are tons of YouTube tutorials on how to prepare quick, easy, and healthy recipes for the whole week and there are options for meat-eaters, vegetarians, pescatarians, vegans, etc. Also, food bloggers and fitness influencers love to share their meal prep ideas so follow them on social media and subscribe to their newsletters for food inspiration.
4. Find a workout buddy
If you decide home workouts aren’t for you or that you would be more determined if you did it alongside someone, then find a workout buddy. Ask your colleague to join you for an after-work aerobics class, suggest to your friends’ group to go together to a spin class, or check with your next-door neighbour if she would be up for a morning jog three times a week. That way, you’ll have someone to rely on during those days when you lack motivation. It’s good to have someone for support when you are just starting to get into an active lifestyle.
And if no one in your surroundings isn’t willing to join you, then who says your workout buddy can’t be a four-legged furry friend? The internet is full of research that says people who regularly walk their dogs are more likely to be in better shape than those who stroll with other people. This makes sense when you think about it – dogs like to discover their surrounding while sniffing during a walk and then they get excited, their pace gets quicker so might find yourself running after them at some point.
However, if owning a dog isn’t an option for you, then the internet comes to the rescue once more – there are many apps out there for matching you with a perfect workout buddy. It might seem like you’re the only one who can’t find a friend to join you, but it’s definitely not the case.
5. Prepare a kick-ass playlist that will help you stay motivated
Everything is way more fun with music. You know how you’ve been saying there’s not enough time for you to catch up on all the new music lately? Well, now is your chance. Create a playlist you intend to listen to while exercising – that way you’ll be doing two things at once. Good music will also give you an extra pep in your step and it will seem as if you’re running faster, biking longer or kicking harder. With your favourite tune playing as a background sound, it will seem as if you’re the main character of an exciting movie (remember Rocky and the iconic Eye of the tiger scene?). A kickass playlist can turn your mundane workout into something you actually look forward to.
But maybe you prefer a podcast or audiobook? Then do that! Personally, I prefer listening to podcasts and audiobooks in my car, but let’s say you aren’t planning to incorporate high-intensity exercises into your active lifestyle. Instead, you chose to walk for half an hour every day after work. Walking is great to clear your mind and unwind from all the stress from your job. It’s also a great time to think about something completely different and podcast have a way to transport us to a different time and place. Why not use that half an hour every day to catch up on new episodes of your favourite true-crime podcast?
Don’t forget, beginnings are the hardest. Once an active lifestyle becomes the only lifestyle you know of you won’t be able to imagine it anyway different. Stay determined and don’t lose hope.