Friday, June 1, 2012

How Do You Fit in Exercise?

Whether we work full time or manage a house full family, everyone is busy. Finding time to work out and fit in fitness isn’t always easy to do, but it is important for your health, and to set a good example for your family, children and friends.

Kathryn Schmitz, PhD, MPH, FACSM, is an associate professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the mom of two teens who works 60 to 70 hours a week, and still manages to find time to work out. In this blog, she discusses her own fitness goals, and how she finds time to exercise.

I work 60 to 70 hours a week, I’m the mother of two teens, and I work out three to five times a week.

In the past, I kept up with my workout schedule by setting a goal to train for a particular running event. I’ve done many 10-mile and half-marathon races in the Philadelphia area. I’m not fast, but by setting a goal for myself, I was able to focus and train for a specific event, even if I wasn’t the fastest person there.

The last race I trained for was the Broad Street Run in 2011. I trained to do this 10 mile event with a breast cancer survivor who was participating in one of my studies and who wanted to do the race but didn’t know whether she could.

We crossed the finish line together with our arms raised high.

I decided it was a terrific note on which to end my long races. You see, I have never enjoyed running long races. I just set the goal of completing a particularly long running event so that I would be motivated to stay on my training schedule.

But since I haven’t been training for an event, I needed a new way to set goals. Late last year I found a terrific one on the blog of a cancer survivor fitness professional by the name of Alwyn Cosgrove. Mr. Cosgrove set a goal of completing 200 workouts a year. I liked this idea so much that I’ve adopted it for 2012. I’m three months in and have 48 workouts to show for it!

Finding time to work out

I fit in my workouts in the evening. I have a rule that I cannot sit and watch television in the evening, I have to be lifting weights, stretching or on the treadmill if the television is on. This limits my television viewing and motivates me to exercise if there is a particular show I like to watch.

I also use exercise time to spend time with my family. My partner and my children and I work out together sometimes. Those are my favorite workouts because we get to spend time together, and I know I am setting a good example for my children.

We also make it fun. My 14-year-old son and I make faces when we are lifting weights and that makes us both laugh. Then we find ourselves remembering those faces later and we laugh again!
The bottom line is that for me, setting fitness goals helps me stay on track and focus on personal fitness achievements. You don’t have to run a race, or climb a mountain to focus on getting exercise. Do what works for you, find time when you can, and remember to have fun.

Do you struggle to find time to work out? How do you do it?

Stay fit and join the Penn Medicine/CHOP LIVESTRONG Challenge Team.

Learn more about Dr. Schmitz’s fitness based research

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