Fitness is one of the most important measures of health. When we think about fitness, we often think about exercise, but it also includes diet and mental health. The challenge for many people is finding the time to stay healthy and fit it into our busy schedules.
Factors that Influence Health
We tend to think about health and fitness as a choice. To some extent, it is—a person has to choose to exercise and eat a healthy diet. However, that is not the sole factor that determines our ability to maintain fitness. Some factors can make it harder to participate in exercise or eat healthily.
Generally speaking, people with higher incomes tend to exercise more. Younger people are typically more active than older adults, and those with more education exercise more than people with lower education levels. A 2019 study also found that moms with young children were less likely to exercise and ate an average of 400 more calories per day than non-parents.
Creating Healthy Habits that Will Stick
While we can’t add more hours to the day or remove all of our stressors, there are habits we can adopt from people who manage to stay fit despite their busy schedules.
If you never seem to have enough time for exercise:
- Busy people have to maintain a schedule to get everything done. Just like your work meetings and kids’ soccer games, put exercise on the schedule.
- Sometimes we think that if we don’t exercise for an hour that it’s not worth it, but that’s not true. If you can only fit in 10 minutes today, that’s great! Do a few squats or jumping jacks in the office or walk up a couple flights of stairs between meetings. Some movement is better than none.
- Perhaps you skip exercise because you want to watch your favorite shows or attend your child’s extracurricular activities. Don’t think of it as either/or, do both! Exercise during commercial breaks while you watch TV. Walk around the track while your child is playing soccer. Add movement and exercise in wherever you can.
- Some workplaces allow treadmill desks for walking at a slow pace (about one mile per hour) while you work. Or invite your coworkers to walk with you for one-on-one meetings instead of sitting in a conference room.
Setting Yourself Up for Healthy Eating
Another important factor of fitness is your diet. Eating healthy foods at home can be hard when you’re pressed for time, so try these tips:
Taking a Moment for Mental Health
The final thing to consider is your mental health. Make sure you take time each day to recover and rejuvenate with these mental health tips:
- Use breathing exercises or short meditations to get a moment of quiet in the middle of the workday or to calm down during stressful parenting moments.
- Put your phone away at least 30 minutes before bed, and don’t look at it until at least 30 minutes after you wake up.
- Permit yourself to say “no” to demands on your time that don’t help you live a fulfilling and healthy life.