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Exercising When Hard-Pressed for Time

These past weeks, in fact, the past few months, I have been very busy. I am currently studying for a certification course- and exams is just 2 weeks away. My day job- busy and filled with challenges that are sometimes stressful- and it looks like more work waiting in the horizon. Earlier this week, my mom’s closest sister passed away due to complications from stroke- and I decided to spend more time with mom instead of my books because I sensed she really needed some company.

So, I am finding it increasing difficult to make it 4 or 5 times to the gym like what I was used to. Honestly, I am only making it about average 2 or 3 times a week.

Still, exercise will always be an important component of my life.

How to find time to stay active, especially when you are hard pressed for time?
Here are stuff that I have tried- you can see if you can try or modify my idea into your own 🙂

1. Exercise smart, not hard.

I used to spend time doing more cardio (40 min or more) of moderate to vigorous intensity and less weight training. It’s now the reversed. I spend more emphasis on weights. My typical schedule in the gym is:

  • 15- 20 min of cardio
  • then light stretching- for hips and legs to ensure my muscle does not cramp when I do weights
  • Weights- for whole body (means from legs, butt, chest, back, arms- front and back, hamstrings) for 2 sets. Takes me about 30 to 40 min to complete. The weight used is such that after 8- 12 repetitions, I am not able to move the weights anymore.
  • Then a bit of light stretching
  • Back to cardio– normally I use the cross trainer machine.
  • Total cardio that I aim to burn at least 300kcal per session
  • Cool down with stretching for about 10min
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Why my focus has changed towards weight training is because I find it is more effective to ‘lock-in’ the benefits from exercise- I get stronger when I weight train. And for ladies, please note: weights does not turn you into Mr Universe- you have to probably take tonnes of steriods to do that. Weight training improves your strength and stamina and thus enabling you to exercise longer and harder- thus burn more calories per session. And after that- more muscles brings up your metabolic rate.

Give your best during each gym/park workout if you are pressed for time.

DO NOT CLING ON THE TREADMILL OR STEPPER’S HANDLES, WHEN DOING CARDIO BECAUSE THAT SHARPLY DECREASE THE EXERCISE INTENSITY AND EFFECTIVENESS.

You work on your core and balancing muscles when you stop clinging to handles. That means your stomach muscles get toned at the same time because you have to tighten it in order to stabilise your movement in the machines (when you are not using your hands to hold on the handles). However, if you are just a beginner in exercising, you may hold on handles till you are used to the machines- this is to avoid any injuries to the lower back due to wrong posture.

This is a very important lesson that I’ve learnt.

After I stop holding on to cardio machine handles, I am able to exercise lesser with better results. Of course, when you are on the cross trainer, you have to hold on the handles or you will lose your balance.

2. Better eating habits

  • To ensure longer sustainence in the gym, I take carbs or meals 90 min before my gym session. I’ve learned that taking about 20 to 30 min before gym makes it hard to exercise because the undigested food is still in my stomach. I stay away from oily or greasy food as it makes it difficult to exercise even though taken 90 min before
  • Cut down the snacking habit and stick to regular meals. If I am hungry in the evenings before dinner, I try to stick to fruits.
  • In the evening, I am mindful of the food I take- I keep my dinner as light as I can. In the mornings, I eat my breakfast like a king. My body had gotten used to this sequence.
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3. Being more active throughout the day

There are various ways to be more active other than going to the gym. Yes, desperate times calls for desperate measures:

  • take the stairs more often- recently I’ve decided that I will try to take the stairs instead of the elevator. It helps, especially to get my circulation moving in the mornings. At work, at times I go up one or two floors to use the washroom.
  • when I destress watching TV- well, most of the time I don’t watch TV except if my family happened to turn on an interesting program- I exercise when watching TV. Just two days back, I’ve purchased some exercise tubes to be used for home workouts. I will post more about exercise tubes after more experimentation, because I find that it’s quite beneficial especially for those doing resistance training at home.
  • I walk and stand more often than I used to. I parked my car further and not right at entrance. I don’t mind carrying more things
  • More crazy ideas on exercising can be found in my previous post.

In summary, do you best to find time for exercise. It’s really important for health- and none of us would want to develop health problems that causes us to burden our loved ones. I placed a lot of emphasize on health because I have seen too many people suffer from various health problems and watch loved ones died due to problems like stroke- that could be easily avoided by exercise and controlled by medication.

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