Performance in anything (work or play) can be described as an equation of three factors - motivation + skill/knowledge + opportunity. And you have to have all three in some degree.
Motivation is having the drive or desire to do something... and when things are a little challenging or uncomfortable (like starting an exercise programme when we've been sedentary for a while) we need a pretty big bucket load of this stuff. But this isn't what this article is about! Likewise this article isn't about addressing the physical skills / knowledge required to get moving.
It's about creating the opportunity for exercise.
Lack of opportunity happens when we don't have access to what we need. It could be seen as referring to a resource of some kind... and for most of us the resource we most lack is time. Or at least that's our perception anyway!
A few years ago this was something I really struggled with. I had bucket loads of motivation and more than enough skill / knowledge to get out there and get my body moving. But I was a single mum, living in a town where I had no family and with a very full-on job in an organisation that didn't really have a clue about the idea of 'work-life balance'. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely loved my job - but there was simply just no time for anything else. Any spare cash I had for babysitting would be funnelled into looking after my daughter so I could do the after hours work functions / work travel etc. I also had truck loads of that thing called guilt - familiar to many full-time working mothers - which meant I'd feel bad using my spare time on something as 'selfish' as my own workout.
I remember feeling frustrated by very helpful friends / coaches / blog writers when they told me... "you just have to make time...". It felt like there was simply no more time available for me to make. I was already wringing very last available second out of the 24 hours a day given to me.
Eventually though I was able to incorporate a regular exercise programme into my already busy life ... and regular exercise is now as natural and as necessary to me as breathing. So here's my tips to create the opportunity for exercise...
- Get up earlier. I know getting up at 'stupid-o-clock' is not fun, but if you need more time create it by starting your day a little earlier. And trust me... I am not naturally a morning person. But the most powerful habit I created was to get up early and exercise first thing... and it's a commitment that is now second nature to me.
- Exercise at home. When my daughter was young going out to a gym wasn't an option so I bought a cheap exercise bike, an exercise ball and a set of old fashioned dumb bells. And boom - cardio, weights, core and balance without leaving my lounge room (without a big investment in space or cash).
- Make the space. Set the time in your diary; choose a walking lunch a couple of times a week; suggest to friends you go for a walk or a yoga class rather than catching up over coffee or lunch... actively look for and create space for physical movement. The gaps of time exist if you look for them - for example my daughter had a regular Saturday morning dance class so I used that time to go for a good solid run.
- Employ some peer group pressure. Find some friends / colleagues who also want to do this and get a group commitment happening. There's loads of online programmes you could do together, agree to do a group fun run / event, or create your own group challenge to encourage each other to stay on track.
- Make a promise to yourself ... and keep it. Its called discipline. Not a word we love in our hedonistic modern world. It will hurt a bit and some mornings will be cold and dark... but once regular exercise does become a habit you'll feel so amazing you'll never give it up!