More is better, right? Not always.
I work with a lot of people who have busy lives: young kids, demanding jobs, lots of plates spinning. More is definitely not better when it comes to increasing the commitments of my clients.
Whether or not you have a busy life in this way, you may still feel overwhelmed with the amount of time you think you need to put into your fitness in order to see results. You see people hitting the gym for an hour at a time, 6 days per week, and you wonder how you could survive that, let alone fit it in!
I'm going to break it down for you, into three main parts to focus on:
In order to pick up a lot of the health benefits associated with exercise, the NHS recommend 150 minutes per week at a moderate level. This means something which gets your heart and breathing rates up for 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week.
But does this mean there are no benefits if you do less than this? Does it mean that doing 15 minutes per day is pointless, for example?
Of course not!
This just happens to be the guideline target amount that the NHS put out (and it's a great target), it doesn't mean it's some magic number.
If you can't kick off with 30 minutes per day, go with 15, or 5, or 20... or whatever number fits the time, and energy, you currently have available.
You already spend time cooking and eating, so this is more about putting a slightly greater focus on planning what it is you're going to cook and eat.
You don't need to spend hours slaving over the oven, or prepping vegetables all day. If you are going to invest a little more time into what you eat, that time is best used to plan.
Sit down with a pen and paper, and plan your meals for the week. This will actaully pay off immediately in terms of time saved each day thinking about what to have, and then prepping it. It will also save you money, as your shopping list will be built around what you actually need.
And, if you're anything like I was, it will save you time (again) because you won't have to go back to the shop 3-4 extra times per week to grab the bits you don't have.
When you plan your meals, factor in prep/cooking times so that you can sustain what you put in place. There is no point planning something you can't stick to, so keep it easy. Make small tweaks to meals you are already used to making, for example adding extra veggies.
Again, I imagine you already have rest built into your busy life. You sleep, right?
Sleep is one of the most often overlooked aspects of staying fit, and yet it's one of the absolute most effective parts.
Depending on where you're at in terms of actual hours of sleep, you're probably better off working on the quality rather than quantity.
(If you're hitting the hay at 3am and getting up at 6am, then yeah perhaps look at quantity first)
In terms of getting better quality sleep, there is one piece of advice which consistently stands out above all others in terms of effectiveness: ditching your screens.
An hour before your chosen sleep time, turn all screens off.
Laptop, phone, TV... all of it.
Use this final hour for reading, meditating, listening to music, writing in your journal, having a bath, talking to your partner... anything which doesn't require you staring at a screen.
This is not only because the blue light fucks with our sleep patterns (you can also get blue light filtering glasses which can help with this), but also the information overload which goes along with it.
Our phones, for example, shove data into our eyes at a stupid bitrate while we are browsing, blue light or not. This is not conducive to restful sleep.
Again, this isn't actually taking up time, but rather giving you back time that was previously sucked up by tech, and giving you back time the next day when previously you were lacking energy due to poor sleep.
There will always be more tweaks you can make, but when thinking about how much time to invest in getting fit please remember this:
Something is ALWAYS better than nothing, so start small and build gradually.