How to fit exercise into your busy life

Fred Ohles

Busy professionals are pulled in a number of directions. When something must go, many of us abandon exercise— with real costs to our health and well-being. I follow a threepart approach to ensure that I exercise regularly.

Know your time.

I put time first because it stops a lot of people from ever starting. “I have no time for exercise,” is a common complaint. It’s true for many of us that most times of most days won’t work. But I’ll bet if you think about it, you’ll find you have a time—your time—for just about anything you consider important. I know some people who exercise early in the morning, some late at night, some just before lunch, and some just before dinner. Whatever time you choose, stick with that time; be regular about it.

Know your goal.

What’s your purpose in exercising? Shaping up your body? Increasing your endurance? Sweating a lot? The kinds of exercise you do should fit your exercise goal. Some people power walk outdoors. Some go through a series of weightlifting routines. Some use a stationary bicycle, elliptical exerciser, stair-stepper, or rowing machine. Upper body, lower body, stretching or scrunching—it matters what goal you have in mind. So know your goal before you begin.

Know your style.

Some people only want to exercise if they have company. Others have to be reading something. I can’t imagine reading and I prefer not to have company. I listen to hit tunes from the 1940s to the 1970s on an iPod that I’ve filled with 800 songs I enjoy. Each of us has a personal style and that style should carry over into the choices we make about exercise. That way, when you think about exercise you know it’s your own, and when you own it you’re likely to stick with it. In my experience, the benefits of regular exercise include good health, good energy and good sleep. I’m not a fanatic, not someone who seeks out exercise or wants a lot of it, but I know its benefits. And I know how to work with my own time, goal and style to make exercise a regular part of my week. I hope these suggestions are helpful to you.

Fred Ohles is president of Nebraska Wesleyan University.