The 5 Ws of Exercise for Busy People

In my perfect world, I would get up each day with no alarm, and enjoy a cup of coffee, and a nutritious, hot breakfast with my family.  I would get my son ready for day care and drop him off.  I would then head to the gym for a workout or the trail for a run.  After a hot shower and recovery meal, I would go to work and have a productive day.  At three in the afternoon, I would pick my son up from day care, head to the park to play and then come home- to prepare a delicious home cooked meal.   I would already know what I was making and would have all the ingredients on hand because I menu planned and grocery shopped accordingly.  Dare to dream.
Like most people, my reality is a little different.  Between caring for family, running a business, and managing the current project of opening our own personal training studio, little time is left for exercise.   As a personal trainer, I know the importance of exercise and healthy eating. But, when life gets busy, even I struggle to listen to my own advice.
If you have hours of spare time each day, you can continuing reading just for fun (after all- it’ll occupy 10 minutes of your day!).  If you are a busy person and struggle to take care of yourself, read on, take notes, save it, post it on your fridge, and take action.
1. WHY: The why is the most important place to start.  Dennis Waitley once said “if the why is big enough, the how is not a problem”.  In other words, if you have a compelling reason why you should exercise and eat right, you can overcome any barrier.   Write a list of all the reasons why you need to take care of yourself.  Post that list somewhere where you can see it every day.  When making the decision to exercise, remind yourself how much better you feel after, how much more energy you have, how exercise relieves stress.
2. HOW:  Once you have a strong why, the how will be more manageable.   Many people to struggle to fit exercise in around all their other appointment and errands.  The solution?  Make exercise an appointment.   To help me stay active, I asked my fantastic administrative assistant to block off 1 hour each day for a workout with my training partner.   Block fitness into your schedule, book an appointment with a personal trainer or set up a meeting time with a workout partner to keep yourself accountable.
3. WHAT:  You don’t need a lot of time to keep fit.   Pick a type of exercise you enjoy doing and do it!  A properly designed fitness program can be completed in 30 minutes or less, and deliver see-in-the-mirror results.  Add 5-10 minutes for stretching, and another 20 minutes to shower, you can be done in an hour or less.  If you don’t have the time for a full hour, get moving for 20, 10 or even 5 minutes.  Remember than anything is better than nothing.
4. WHEN:  I know of fitness experts who swear that working out before breakfast allows the body to burn twice as much fat.  I know of fitness experts who say that working out in the evening burns twice as much fat.  Ideally, I’d workout in the morning and then go for a power walk in the afternoon- but it’s not realistic with my schedule.  Fit your workout in at the time that works best for you.
5. WHERE: Think comfort and convenience.  If you don’t feel comfortable going to the gym, don’t go to the gym.  If your gym is way across town and you have no set appointment time, you probably won’t go.  Workout in a place you feel comfortable, and that is convenient (it may be your basement!).
Tanja Shaw is the owner of Ascend Fitness Coaching, a private training studio.  Tanja and her team of expert fitness professionals strive to inspire and educate Chilliwack residents to make positive and power changes in their lives through physical fitness and sound nutrition.  For more fitness tips go to

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