Adding Exercise to Your Life Adds Up to Good Health

fitness time

The number one excuse most women give for not exercising is lack of time, and it’s true: women have a lot on their plates. If you’re a mom, then you have to juggle cleaning house, busing kids to soccer practice, and cooking dinner. It can seem like there’s hardly any time to squeeze a workout into your busy schedule.

And if you’re a working woman, then you have to deal with the stresses and demands that come with a career: preparing presentations, managing employees, drafting papers, and organizing events. When you get home, you don’t even have the energy to read a novel, much less exercise. It’s a fact: Americans work more today than they ever have before.

Prioritize Exercise

So how do you add exercise to your life when your daily planner is already bursting at the seams? The key is prioritization. Exercise opportunities will not automatically come to you throughout the week. You have to prioritize your time to include physical activity. We make time for the important things in our lives, and we work all other time commitments around those priorities.

The question is this: is exercise a priority in your life? Physical fitness is essential to get the most out of life, because you can’t continue to do the things you love to do without a healthy body. Think about the payoff of having a regular fitness routine. Here are just a few of the health benefits from maintaining an exercise program:

  • Reduced stress
  • Decreased body fat content
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Increased blood flow to muscles and organs
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Improved concentration

Did you also know that a regular fitness regimen can help you maximize your time at the office or out running errands? You may think you’re too tired to exercise after a hard day’s work but a regular fitness routine actually increases energy levels, according to a study done by a team of researchers at the Universityof Georgia1. During exercise your body increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients delivered to your muscles, and over time your heart begins to work more efficiently. As a result, you have more energy to accomplish your daily to-do list.

You may feel like every minute of your day is consumed with prior commitments and responsibilities, but all you have to do is free up half an hour a day for physical activity. Finding time to exercise is possible; it just requires a little bit of pre-planning and discipline. Once fitness get’s ingrained into your lifestyle, it will become easier to make room for it in your schedule.

Creating an Exercise Plan

As you start evaluating your schedule for physical activity, you need to know how to create an exercise program to ensure that you stick with your fitness commitments over the long haul. Often, people who are looking to start an exercise program bite off more than they can chew by trying to run eight miles on the first run or lift weights for three hours on the first day of their workout plan. This can lead to burn out and ultimately injury.

The key is to start slow and simple. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for  Americans, which is suppored by the American College of Sports Medicine recommend all healthy adults participate in 150 minutes of moderate cardio exercise a week. If that’s too much time, they alternatively recommend 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. Moderate intensity cardio exercise should cause a noticeable increase in heart rate and breathing. Vigorous intensity should cause a substantial increase in heart rate and breathing3.

You can reach this goal through a variety of different activities ranging from a brisk walk to a leisurely bike ride to social dancing or aqua-aerobics. Examples include jogging, running, rowing, spinning, stepping, elliptical exercise, and fast dancing. Pick a cardio exercise that you enjoy doing and don’t be afraid to mix up your routine by throwing in a different exercise. Make sure that before doing any type of exercise you do 10 minutes of stretching or light aerobic warm-ups.

You should participate in anaerobic exercise designed to increase muscle strength and endurance at least twice a week for 20 to 30 per sessions. Train each muscle group for a total of 2 to 4 sets with 8 to 12 repetitions per set. And in between sets make sure you rest for at least 1 to 3 minutes, depending on your physical condition4.

A good sign that your muscles are getting a good workout is if you can just barely complete your last repetition on each set. Letting your muscles rest for 1 to 2 days in between workouts is just as important as the actual weight training. After a workout, you will probably experience some muscle soreness, which is a good thing. It means your muscles are recuperating and getting strong. However, if you continue to workout while your muscles are sore, you will actually lose muscles strength and possibly injure yourself. So make sure your muscles have plenty of time to repair themselves before you pick up the weights again.

The most important thing about an exercise program is consistency. Make sure you start slow and develop reasonable goals so that exercise is fun because the key to developing an active lifestyle is learning to enjoy physical activity.


1 Puetz, T., Flowers, S., & O’Connor, P. (2008). A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effect of Aerobic Exercise Training on Feelings of Energy and Fatigue in Sedentary Young Adults with Persistent Fatigue. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 167-74.

2 American Heart Association Guidelines. (2011, January 19). Retrieved from American Heart Association: www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/StartWalking/American-Heart-Association-Guidelines_UCM_307976_Article.jsp

Haskell, W.,Minn, L., & Pate, R. (2007). Physical activity and public health: updated recommendations from theAmericanCollege of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 1423-34.

AmericanCollege of Sports Medicine. (2009). Position Stand: Exercise and Physical Activity For Older Adults. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 1510-1530.


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