5 Tips for Staying Active When You Are Super Busy

There’s a lot to be said for the first sign of a new spring.

And even more to be said for still choosing to show up to the fluorescent-lit lap lane despite the clear sunny morning ahead. A sunny breeze in the Upper Valley should mean laying out on one of our many rolling hills, or walking serenely across a bridge. However, I decided to hole up in a locker room, fill my nose with the scent of chlorine and – okay, I’m making it sound terrible. But I love it, trust me.

Most of my mornings for the month of April were like this – either that, or trying not to yell loudly at the sky for throwing down more snow. (Somehow, always more snow!) As a graduate student at The Center for Cartoon Studies, my final project was a looming force sucking up all of my time. I was really worried that it was going to disrupt the time that I wanted to spend active. After all, moving my body, at least a little bit every day, is sort of my life’s motto in 2023.

But, hey! I made it! And if you’re like me, just because one busy event ends doesn’t mean that the business stops. So, without further ado, here are my top five tips for staying active when your schedule is packed tight and your motivation is low.

1. The first rule – Listen to your body!

You’re probably getting more signals than you think. If you’re getting more headaches, or feeling more restless, this probably means your body wants to move. However, don’t ignore signs that you might need to take a breather that doesn’t have to do with movement. Busy schedules mean stress! Exercise can help – but so can a good nap. Trust your gut, and make sure to push yourself toward productivity, not toward breaking.

2. You don’t have to do the most all the time.

UVAC’s gym and options for exercise are plentiful, and once you see it all, it can feel like you should hit everything. Cardio, strength training, endurance – but that can also feel overwhelming when you’re laying in bed and trying to get the motivation. If your motivation is low, or if you’re in a tight bind between obligations, give yourself permission to just do a little bit. Maximum effort is not always required for you to help your body feel better.

3. It’s important to maximize your time.

That includes both in the gym, and when you’re getting ready to go. To prevent lollygagging, try and add something to your workout routine to make it new, or fresh, or fun for you! It can be something as simple as a new playlist, or picking out one of the fun trail views offered one of UVAC’s many treadmill screens. Heck, sometimes I watch an episode of my favorite TV shows on my phone while I run, because hey – that’s allowed!

4. Enroll in a class!

It can help to have someone else, like the group leader, keep track of time so you can be efficient, and so that you can focus on the workout rather than the timing. Plus, classes are something you can write into your schedule and sign up for ahead of time, so that you have an exact sense of how it fits in your calendar.

5. And lastly – forgive yourself.

It’s okay if you are just too busy to make it to the weight room, or if an unexpected meeting comes up and you can’t make the drive to the pool. Forgiving yourself allows you to maintain a positive association with working out and exercise – blame just perpetuates a cycle of guilt that isn’t productive. Being kind to yourself and allowing for mistakes or slip-ups helps remind you that
you’re only human – a human who is going to kick butt next time you make it to the gym.

And that’s all, folks! To be completely honest, I’m still working on implementing some of these practices myself. It’s all too easy to yell at myself for not going to the gym one morning, or on the flip side, to push myself to the point where I can barely walk down the stairs to “make up” for my missed time at the gym.

But I think that part of talking about exercise and movement includes being transparent and honest – the Instagram gurus aren’t the only people who go to the gym.

By OK Stevens

See their website here: www.theokstevens.com

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