Body Over Mind Part 3: Getting Into A Routine

Body Over Mind Part 3: Getting Into A Routine

In part I of the Body Over Mind series, we saw a clear co-relation between exercise and mental wellbeing. I had also written about my own personal experience.

With something that clearly benefits both the physical and mental wellbeing of a person, one would think that everyone will have an active physical workout routine. But that is far from the reality. Despite knowing the benefits of exercise, most people find it difficult to include it in their daily routine.

Some of the reasons why people find it difficult to make a start are:
• Time: This is one of the most common reasons. Work and home responsibilities take up most of the time. How, then, should one accommodate exercise when there is already so little time.
• Exhaustion – Low energy from the sheer strain of multi-tasking. Just the thought of one more activity can seem very daunting.
• Starting out with a tough exercise routine: People often start an exercise routine with a lot of gusto. In their enthusiasm to get going, they take up routines which are tough. This is a sure fire way to kill the enthusiasm in a few days itself, especially if people have never exercised before. Research shows that when people exercise above their respiratory threshold, that is, above the point when it gets hard to talk, they don’t get a sense of wellbeing and as a result give up exercising.
• Unrealistic goals: Almost everyone takes up an exercise routine with a goal in mind. Often the goals have an over emphasis on the physical effects of exercise, like weight loss, reduction of blood pressure or cholesterol. Achieving any of these targets takes time. When people don’t see immediate benefit, they give up. The exercise mood boost, on the other hand, offers near-instant gratification.
• Research shows many people skip the workout at the very time it has the greatest payoff. When one is feeling low, is in a bad mood, angry, depressed, exercise is the last thing on the mind. However, that’s the time to get pay-off from your exercise. Failing to exercise when you feel bad is akin to not taking an aspirin when you have a headache.
• Expensive: joining a fitness class or having a personal trainer costs money which I can’t afford right now

All the above reasons are valid. Besides this each individual could have his/ her own unique concern. The good news is that there are ways in which these obstacles can be tackled. This article will focus on making time for exercise.


What’s the optimum exercise time?
There is nothing called optimum exercise time. Every individual has a unique physical composition, type, and mental frame work. The need for exercise and quantity of exercise will largely depend on that. Having said this, most physicians and health experts advise minimum 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. 'Moderate exercise' means being energetic enough that you aren’t out of breath and you feel warm but not hot and sweaty.

How can one manage 30 minutes of exercise time in an already busy schedule?
For people who are already time crunched, 30 minutes a day may sound like a lot. We will help you look at new ways in which you can get your 30 minutes per day.

Here are the tips to create time:
• Keep a journal of your daily schedule for one week.
• Review the schedule at the end of the week. Colour code the activities based on their importance and priority. Most important activities will be those which only you can do. For example, your specific role in your organization, bed time with kids if you are a parent.
• This will help to identify time drainers. Most of us have it in some form or the other. For example, in my case I realized that a lot of time went engaging in WhatsApp conversations and social media.
• Once you identify your time drainers, you will be able to manage them better and make additional time for yourself.
You will be amazed by how such a simple activity can help you carve out the recommended 30 minutes of exercise time.


How can one get 30 minutes of exercise done in a day?
It is not necessary to enroll in a fitness class or have a personal trainer to get your recommended 30 minutes of exercise time. There are various ways in which one can do this. Given below are some suggestions. Based on this you can create your own unique exercise routine most suitable for your physical health and capability. It is also recommended to consult your general physician before beginning a routine.

Here are our tips:
• Identify an activity you enjoy like dancing, running, playing a sport. That will make your 30 minutes seem like a cake walk
• Make walking your mode of transport: if distances permit, walk to work/ bus station/ train station
• Cycle to your destination – again only if distances and traffic permit. Remember to wear a helmet
• Skip the elevator: walk up the stairs. Tough but doable. Be watchful of your knees though
• Move around: create opportunities to walk around to fetch things rather than sitting at one place and get someone to deliver them to you
• If you are a parent, play games with your children
• Find a friend or co-worker who can motivate you and make the exercise a fun activity
• Build a support group of fitness enthusiasts at work, amongst friends, within your family
• If you are driving your own vehicle, park farthest from your destination and walk the balance distance
• Get a dog and walk it every morning and evening
• Join a fun workout routine
• Many health experts recommend 10,000 steps a day to remain healthy. Invest in a pedometer to track the number of steps you take. There are many mobile apps as well like the Fitbit App, Nike Running, to name a couple
• Reward yourself: everyone likes rewards. Fix a weekly target and if you have met it, reward yourself. Of course, in case you are on a diet, it wouldn’t help to reward yourself with high calorie stuff. So, be mindful of how you plan to reward yourself

I am sure that you will have many more ideas. Do share with us. You never know who you will motivate with your idea.

From my personal experience, I can say that exercise is a winner all the way.

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