Today’s blog post is inspired by two of my readers that have asked questions that I get asked all the time. And the questions centre around exercise.
Mel from Mel Nutrition asks “how do you find the time to exercise…?”
Bonny asks “how do you have the motivation?!
I’m busy just like everyone else seems to be these days but I still find the time to get to the gym a couple of times a week. Even on placement with my long days I would sneak in an early morning session, even if it meant eating breakfast in the car. I found that during placement my peers would say to me “oh, I haven’t found the time/motivation to exercise at all since placement started!” We’re on placement for 11 weeks. That’s a long time to go without formal exercise.
For me, staying motivated is a question of risk vs. reward. What am potentially missing out on or what are the risks of exercising?
What rewards do I get by participating in regular exercise?
Let me walk you through my thinking to explain. We’ll use my time on placement (since that’s when I was getting the most questions about this).
Less sleep = more tired. Placement is exhausting! You’ll never go through something as intense as clinical placement. The temptation is to just spend every second away from placement in a deep sleep and every obligation is seen as a threat against that much needed sleep.
Injury risk. This was always in the back of my mind- what if I hurt my self and miss days on placement? What if it was a really bad injury like last time, one that hurt for a long time?
Better sleep. This is a well documented benefit of regular exercise
Better concentration. I found I could power on through the entire afternoon had I gone to the gym in the morning.
Stress management. This was a big one for me. I found I could cope so much better with the demands of extra patients/ supervisors constantly watching you if I exercised.
Improved mood. I was totally in a better frame of mind to deal with supervisors and patients when I had gone to the gym.
Improved fitness/strength/flexibility. I surprised myself and hit a few PBs during placement J. For me, fitness is very much apart of my health so its important to me to keep it up. Improving my fitness and strength will also lower my risk of injury.
And really, an extra hour of sleep a couple of times a week was not going to cure my tiredness during placement!
So you can see when I lay it out like that, I see that there are far more benefits to making sure I fit in exercise rather than not participating in it.
No, I didn’t (and still don’t) exercise every day.
Yes, I got plenty of incidental exercise walking between buildings and around the wards. For me that wasn’t the same as a sweat session at the gym.
Yes, sometimes I turned my alarm off and had extra sleep. I’m not perfect and nor do I profess to be. But if you’re wondering how I keep up my motivation to exercise, then this is how I do it.
As for how I find time to exercise? I just make it work. Sometimes it isn’t a gym session- sometimes all I can fit in is a 20 minute walk you know what? That’s okay! A 20 minute walk is still allowing me to clear my head and get some fresh air and that’s a win for me.
I have to stress this though. If you aren’t exercising as much as you’d like to be right now then that’s okay too. My big motivator for exercising is how it’s going to make me feel afterwards– I’m not into all these
fitspo shaming messages about how’s there’s “no excuses” for missing a training session. I find it helps to find your “why” when it comes to exercise, because that is often the biggest motivator of them all.