I’ve written before about my discipline of exercise. Honestly, it has to be one of the keys to me being effective in life and leadership. I can tell the difference in productivity when I exercise and when I don’t.
There are always seasons where the weather doesn’t cooperate, I’m traveling more, or I simply am busier than usual. I have to be more creative in those seasons.
I talk to busy, stressed pastors every week and frequently I ask them how they are staying physically fit. Most have been trained and are more disciplined in their spiritual life, but the reality is their physical life is impacting their health – and – if its not now, it will someday impact every other part of their life.
As much as it depends on me, I think it is important to take care of our health. But, I’ll admit, working 50 or even 70 hour weeks normally makes it difficult to fit exercise into an already packed schedule.
I’m purposeful enough though – and know the value – if I can, I’ll find a way.
Here are 5 clever ways I find time to exercise:
Work on the elliptical.
This one takes practice learning to balance on the machine, but it’s proven gold in the quantity of my exercise. For example, a few times a week I go over my notes for Sunday. Why not do it while I exercise? I sometimes write blog posts from the elliptical. (Posts like this one.) It has become a great way for me to accomplish two things I need to do at the same time. What do you have to do that is a routine for you, but you could do while exercising? Anything? Be creative.
Exercise on lunch breaks.
One problem for me is eating three full meals a day. I can’t do it these days and maintain my weight. Sometimes my schedule dictates three meals, because many of my meetings are done at these times. I’m bad at resisting food when I have it in front of me. On days I can, I try to grab something light, fast and healthy and hit the road or gym. It fuels me for the rest of the day, gives me a sense of accomplishment and I’m healthier.
Walk to talk.
Weather permitting, Cheryl and I take walks together almost daily. It allows us to catch up on the day, debrief the week ahead and enjoy exercising together. I’ve done this with staff members too. If you schedule me for a phone call I will likely be walking as we talk. I’ve even gone to a stand up desk so I’m less tied to a chair. Remember this phrase: If you have an extended talk – take a walk.
Strategic mental breaks.
If I’m stuck in my thoughts, I can almost always spur myself if I exercise. The break in schedule always pays back dividends beyond the apparent loss of time. This is especially true during the most stressful weeks. (By the way, this means I’m always ready with clothes at the office or in my car.) If you need to think or pray through an issue – get your body moving. It’s almost always productive for me. It’s often my best prayer time.
Let my calendar be my conscience.
I love having a goal on the calendar. A half or full marathon – or even a 5K. You can walk it or run it, but knowing it’s coming for me is a motivator. I also sometimes plan my schedule around exercising. My long day to prepare for Sunday is Wednesday. I try not to have breakfast appointments this day because I want to get in a good run – especially if weather permits. Your calendar often controls the rest of your life – why not this vital area?
Again, I realize the value of exercise for my life – for the quality of my life – and so I’ll make time for it. You can find time if you are creative and disciplined with your time.
(By the way. This principle works for anything you value. Prayer. Bible reading. Relationships. We find time for those things which we value most.)
Have you found any clever ways to work exercise into your schedule?
I’m open to learning new ones.