Benefits of Using a Workout Calendar

There are just not enough hours in a day to fit in exercise…sound familiar?
With our busy schedules these days, after we do all the things we have to do there really isn’t much time left to do much else, let alone exercise…

If that’s how you view your day,  then exercise is never going to happen!

But how do you find that little bit of extra time for exercise when your day is already jam-packed? You schedule it in, just like you would for an important appointment. If you need to see a doctor or specialist you would make time to do it, if you want to catch up with a friend, you make time to do it – it’s the same with exercise. It’s only going to happen if it’s part of your ongoing schedule.

Do I need to exercise?
We all know we should exercise, right? Well, at least deep down we do but often exercise is thought of as something not absolutely necessary to everyday life (although there’s usually a gnawing thought that we should do it…). But exercise has many proven health benefits. For those wanting to lose weight, food intake will make the biggest impact, exercise impacts overall health, helps tone muscles and can help maintain weight too. So let’s look at some of the benefits of exercise:

- Reduce risk or help manage heart disease and type 2 diabetes
- Maintain or improve blood pressure, blood glucose levels or cholesterol levels
- Reduce risk or rehabilitation of some cancers
- Build strong bones and muscles
- Help prevent and manage mental health problems and promote mental well-being

In general most health authorities worldwide will recommend about 30 minutes of exercise per day, 5 days a week and also recommend we move more in our day to day life and sit less.

So with so many good reasons to exercise, how do you go about getting into a good routine…

How do I schedule in exercise?
Successfully scheduling exercise involves a few steps:

- Setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) goals. If your exercise goal isn’t specific, doesn’t allow you to see any progress, isn’t something you can achieve or realistically keep up, and there’s no time frame when you’ll be doing it – then exercise is probably not going to happen or be a long-term thing.

- Set a small goal to start with – even if it doesn’t seem like much, get into a good routine with this goal and then you can build on it.

- Take a good serious look at your weekly schedule. There is always somewhere where we can slot in exercise and it doesn’t necessarily need to be done all at the same time. But you want to find time slots that will enable exercise to be something you can fit in on the given day. There is no point scheduling it where you know you are unlikely to do it.

- Having a back-up plan in case the weather or darkness gets in the way. Combat the excuse before you can use it! For example if rain finds a way of ruining your exercise plans, try exercising to an exercise DVD indoors. Maybe even check out the exercise plans here on the WatchFit app!

Find ways to get more active in your day by including incidental exercise or using a pedometer to increase your daily steps.

When to Schedule Exercise

When you have an important appointment, you always find a way to keep it, exercise should be viewed like that appointment.

Try exercising:

- First thing in the morning before work or the family are up. This is usually a good time because there often isn’t any reason not to exercise and it is ‘over and done with’ early in the day
- Straight after work before getting home. Don’t go home first, go to the gym, park or training / sports facility and exercise. If you go home, it can be so easy to fall into distractions and other tasks and therefore more difficult to go back out.
- During your lunch break at work

Setting a SMART exercise schedule will mean:
- Specific: Choose specific days and times that you will exercise, e.g.

Monday between 6:30am – 7:15am before work I will walk around the block
Tuesday between 12:00 and 12:30pm I will go for a walk with Nancy from work during our lunch break
Wednesday at 5:30pm, I will do a Pump class at the gym
Saturday at 4pm, I will play tennis with the kids

- Measurable: Have an exercise goal that allows you to see your progress over time. If you don’t see progress, you may get bored and feel like what you are doing is pointless. Have targets to reach and build on them in time e.g. you may start by walking for 20 minutes each day but have a target to build up to 30 minutes.

- Achievable: Your schedule has to be achievable! If you’ve never exercised before and you have a goal to exercise for 1 hour a day 6 days a week – while your enthusiasm is great, you’re highly unlikely to keep up such a high and demanding goal. It would be better to start by exercising for fewer days and for a shorter period and build on this over time.

- Realistic: Like being achievable, your schedule has to be realistic. If it’s something that is difficult to achieve or maintain each week unless you go to a lot of trouble, it’s probably unrealistic and you wont be able to keep it up.

- Timely: Give your exercise not only a day but a time slot. There’s no point saying I’ll exercise on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then leave it at that, you’ll end up having something else to do. Give it a specific time e.g. say “I will exercise on Monday, Wednesday and Friday after work at 5:30pm and will be meeting up with my mum for a walk around the local park”.

Often exercise is the last thing on our daily ‘to do’ list and is thus left to chance, which means it probably doesn’t happen. Having an exercise schedule means that you plan the rest of your life around your exercise rather than leaving it to chance. Make sure to have a schedule that is specific, realistic and achievable so not only do you start exercising but it becomes a permanent part of your life.