There are 10,080 minutes in a week. Can you spare 150 of them? The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that adults participate in 150 minutes of exercise a week. In essence, it is a bright idea to commit 1% of your week to moderately intense physical activity (o.k., 1.5% is more mathematically accurate, but not as “occupy” movement catchy). It really does not seem like much time.
The ACSM allows for the fitness 150 to be spread out over 3-5 days and can even be taken on at 10 minute bursts. Yet, “I don’t have time to exercise,” is a common lament of the exercise negligent. Finding the fitness 150 for now and for life can be aided by three mental activities:
Plan the Time – Jumping right in is a great way to enter a frigid pool on a hot summer day, but is not necessarily the best approach to adding exercise to your life. A bit of planning helps it make sense in your schedule and sense in your brain. Some reflection about the activities you choose and why they are valuable to you will help behavior changes have a bit more glue so they stick.
Take the Time – While variety is the spice of life, it is not necessarily terrific when trying to make a lifestyle change. Creating a set time and set routine for play is helpful - in the morning, during lunch breaks, or immediately after work (i.e. before the weight of gravity compels the butt into the couch cushions). Having the gym bag at the ready and a clear time, place, and mental space for activity gives us permission to step away from the hustle and bustle of life.
Give it Time – It would be unrealistic to think that during weeks one, two, and even three of a new fitness routine you would avoid wondering (a.k.a. stressing) about what else you could be doing with your 150 minutes. When starting to exercise, the costs can appear greater than the benefits. This is why it is critical to give new behaviors a fair test of time. Choose a date a few months after you begin your new routine when you will reflect on whether or not your chosen activity is a bright idea. It is quite likely that you will find the cost-benefit equation flip flopped… stopping your fitness routine would make you feel like you are missing something.
150 minutes. Less than 3 hours. Investing 1% of your week can lead to wellness riches.
Dr. Adam Naylor leads Telos Sport Psychology Consulting and is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Boston University’s School of Education. He has a decade and a half of experiences working with professional through amateur athletes – of note: US Open competitors, NCAA champions, Olympians, Stanley Cup winners, and UFC martial artists. Beyond sports, over the past five years he has served as a corporate performance and wellness consultant. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ahnaylor.