How to Exercise Well with Little or No Time

Twenty Four /seven. That is all each of us gets. We are constantly confronted with choices for how to spend our time. Finding the time for exercise is a struggle for many. In fact, it is the most commonly reported barrier that keeps people from exercising regularly.

For some, this is because of demands on time from work and family. For some, it never seems to make it to the top of the ‘to do’ list and life always seems to get in the way. Whatever the reason, they all stem from misinformation about how much time you need to spend exercising.

 The Recommended Amount of Exercise

The recommended amounts of exercise have been largely based on studies from self-reported amounts of exercise and information from outdated science about calories.

Self-reported amounts of exercise are well known to be unreliable. People tend to overestimate how active they are in a day. Add to that the wide variety of ways to define exercise and these studies do not give us a useful guide for something as important as how to invest our time.

Research on calorie burning started around the time of the industrial revolution. Factory owners provided food for workers and needed to know how much food was needed to keep workers going. The assumption was created that calorie-burning was limitless. The more you move the more calories you burn.

New Guidelines to Exercise Well

Within the past decade, however, newer research has shown the body has a fixed energy budget. There is a limit to how many calories the body burns, no matter how much physical activity you do. out.

These two facts free us from outdated ideas about how much is enough exercise and lead us to rely on physiology for guidance to how much is enough to be healthy and well.

Your body has four functional skills that allow you to move in daily life most efficiently and effectively.

  1. Mobility,  the ability to move freely without resistance or stiffness
  2. Strength, the ability to move against gravity
  3. Stamina the ability to move for extended periods without fatigue
  4. Rest,  the ability to shift your whole person into a state where it restores energy heals, and repairs so it’s ready to move again.

Each of these skills helps the other but one does not replace the other. That means one of the most effective uses of your time for exercise is to use it to practice a balance of each of these for skills.

Learning to Move Well

But how much time do you need to spend on each? That depends on the quality with which you do each one. When you focus on movements, rather than muscle groups, and specifically the movements you need to do for daily life, you narrow the list of exercises that are worth your time. The greater your presence when practicing each skill, the less time it will take your brain and body to work together to develop and keep them.

For how much is enough time to invest on each,  we can look to physiology. The science of what happens in the body when you move gives us more specific information about using our time well for exercising to feel and function best, even as we age. This science tells us that enough is:

  1. Practicing the six basic mindful mobility movements once or more a day
  2. Practicing the six basic strength moves twice a week
  3. Practicing moving continuously at a moderate breathing level for thirty minutes three times a week or the equivalent in shorter bouts
  4. Practicing resting well when not moving, by putting your body in a position of alignment and your mind in the present moment with kindness.

To get the biggest return on your investment for your health, doing each one of these in the way that shifts you out of a stressed state and into the state of being well. That keeps you from the health drain of chronic stress and supports your lasting motivation by signaling your brain that exercise is a worthwhile way to spend your time.

When you want to be healthy in your whole person, but time for exercising is low, start Exercising Well. This is the simplified, science-based way to exercise to reduce the stress that comes from always feeling like you are not doing enough exercise, and strengthen your self-motivation skills that have a carry-over effect to other habits for your whole-person health.