We all know that exercise is important – vital, in fact. Yet, one of the most common excuses for not exercising enough is “I can’t find time for exercise.”

And it’s true. It is hard to find time for exercise. Just like it’s hard to find time to meditate, cook healthy meals, and volunteer to make your community a better place.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA) provides the following minimum exercise guidelines for healthy adults (18-65):

  • Moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes, five days per week (e.g. a brisk walk) or;
  • Vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity for 20 minutes, three days per week (e.g. jogging) or;
  • Some combination of moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity
  • NOTE: Exercise can be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes.

That’s not bad. In fact, it’s pretty achievable. So let’s move on to the challenging (but fun) part: Finding time for exercise.

1. Turn off the TV

This is usually a good place to start. In 2010, the average American watched 34 hours of TV per week. If you do the math, you could still watch 30 hours of TV and get all your exercise in (including a shower afterwards, which is typically appreciated by your colleagues/family members).

And if you’ve already whittled your TV watching down to just one or two favorite shows per week, consider exercising while you watch.

If you’d like to remove TV completely from your life and go crazy with exercise, check out this step-by-step article on the topic.

2. Limit Your Time Online

If we’re not watching TV, we’re surfing the Internet, checking email, updating Facebook, tweeting, or pinning. According to comScore, the average American spent 32 hours per month online in 2010 (sounds low to me!).

That’s over 60 minutes per day, some of which could be devoted to moving your body rather than letting it waste away in front of a screen.

Becoming more efficient with your online dealings is a great way to cut down on the time spent online. Lifehack Managing Editor Mike Vardy recently wrote a great article about the real problem with email. It’s not about the technology. It’s about improper use of the technology. You will be amazed by the amount of time you will save if you check your email only once or twice per day.

3. Ask for Help

I don’t want to assume that you are a couch potato or an Internet addict. Perhaps you simply have your hands full with work, laundry, kids, community commitments, and all the other things that make up our plate of life.

If you are serious about finding time for exercise, ask for help. Maybe you just need somebody to watch the kids for an hour while you hit the gym. Ask your spouse, your mom, your friend, the teenager next door – anybody who can help you find that time. Also, if you have the money, hire somebody to clean your house. That frees up significant time (at least if you’re a clean freak like me).

4. Find Pockets of Time for Exercise

If your eyes didn’t completely gloss over when you read the ACSM/AHA recommendations above, you may have noticed that you can exercise in “bouts of at least 10 minutes.”

This means that you could go for a brisk 10-minute walk after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Not only will you feel refreshed, but it also helps with digestion!

I often find myself with 10 minutes to spare, so I have a mental list of things that can be completed in that amount of time. If you have your own 10-minute activity list, just add exercise to it.

5. Combine Exercise and Transportation

In many parts of the world, this is an obvious one. However, sometimes it’s easy to forget that getting from Point A to Point B can be a wonderful opportunity to exercise. Here are some options:

  • Bike or walk to work/school
  • Bike to the grocery store
  • Walk over to a friend’s house
  • Walk to your place of worship
  • Walk or bike to the coffee shop

As long as it’s at least 10 minutes and getting your heart rate up, it’s exercise!

How do you find time for exercise? Share your tips in the comments.

(Photo: “Photonut” at RGBStock.com.)

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