“I don’t have time to run.” Or maybe you have heard the more universal version of this excuse, “I don’t have time to exercise.” I had a recent conversation with someone and the words that were spoken were “I don’t have time to exercise,” but the words I heard were “I don’t care about my health enough to take care of myself, and I don’t care enough about those who love me to take care of myself. Life’s mundane things are too important to me.” Is that harsh? Yes, very much so. But that’s what it ends up coming down to even if that isn’t what was meant at all by the person saying they didn’t have time to exercise.
They say the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. That is BS for most of those who “don’t have time to exercise”. There are those who can’t exercise due to severe physical limitations. But for the vast majority it’s just the fact that they don’t feel like doing it. Exercise takes effort. Sweat is produced. Your heart rate goes up. You get tired. Muscles can get sore and joints can ache. Unless you have become an exercise junkie, those are generally not feelings that we seek out.
Too many people would rather watch Dancing with the Stars, Modern Family, Ellen, or another meaningless regular season game of one kind or another. They “need” to check their Facebook page and post comments on it. (Now, of course, we all know that reading a running blog actually is a worthwhile activity and serves as incentive to get out and run.) There is nothing inherently wrong with watching TV or spending time on the computer. The important thing is balance. Just as it is a problem to spend 8 hours in front of a screen, it’s also a problem to spend 8 hours a day exercising to the exclusion of everything and everyone else. Don’t let exercise be an obsession that ruins the rest of your life.
Balance in life is everything. Exercise is NOT the most important thing. If you put it before your family, God and country then you may need to reconsider your priorities. It’s a problem to tell your boss you are going to be late for work because you have scheduled your long run this morning. The demands of everyday living are sometimes overwhelming but it is important to find some time, even just a little time, to take care of yourself. This is one reason I like running the best. You don’t have to drive to an expensive gym, or take extra time to prepare. All you do is lace up your shoes, step out the door and go. If you can’t do the hour run you want, then so be it. Do a half hour or 20 minutes. Just get out and put one foot in front of the other. If you aren’t capable of running, then try walking. All of us runners will eventually become walkers if we live long enough. I am extremely impressed by the athletes who do their workouts from the confines of a wheelchair. They don’t let a mere disability get in their way. They are going to make the most of what they have and we should all follow their example. Like to ride a bike instead? Go for it. Like to swim? By all means. Any workout can be good. The secret to finding the best workout for you is to find one you like. Find the one you will actually do. If you won’t do it for yourself then do it for those who love you.
But where do I find the time? I have so many things to get done and I just can’t find the time for it. Here is a suggestion. Take a week and start writing down everything you do during that week and the time you have spent doing it. This includes EVERYTHING! If you watched TV, write it down and how much time you spent. If you have a hobby and spent time on it, write it down. At the end of the week look over your list and decide how many of those things are more important than your health. Learn to say no to unimportant things.
“But I like to read and knit and spend time just sitting in my boat with a fishing pole in my hands. I don’t want to give them up.” By all means you should do these things. They keep you sane. Again, balance is the key. Live your life and do the things you enjoy. Otherwise, what is there to live for? But if you make exercise a part of that life, you will enjoy the fun things more and you will enjoy them for more years.
When done in moderation, you will get back more time than you will spend working out. People in good shape are far more productive than those who are in poor condition. You will get more done in 3 hours of efficient work after your workout than you will in 4 hours of feeling like a slug when you don’t workout. (I would gladly list all the science to back me up on that but as with most things I spout off about, it’s just my opinion.)
If you already workout you can be the leader who gets someone else off the couch and leads them to the promised land of good health. Lead by example. Offer to go with them if that’s what it takes. It goes both ways. If you want someone to exercise and get healthy because you love them, then maybe you love them enough to take the time to go with them. Get your kids up and moving. Don’t just tell them to turn the TV off. Lead by example and join them for some fun if you can.
There are so many options out there. Running, biking, swimming (who’s up for a triathlon?), canoeing, skiing in the winter, golfing (and it doesn’t count if there is a cart and a cooler full of beer involved), or sometimes it’s as simple as playing with the kids or grandkids.
Working in the garden or just a walk around the block are better than time lounging on the couch. The guy pictured above looks to me like he is enjoying life. They say it gets harder as you get tired towards the end of the workout. Well, I say the hardest part is that first step. Getting out the door is the key.
Keep running my friends!