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When exercise takes the backseat

Tenure, She Wrote recently published a post on exercise routines, and I really recognized my own experiences in that post.

It’s counter-intuitive, but it always happens: whenever I am burried in work, stressed out and need exercise the most, I start skipping on it.

For that reasons, I left the following comment:

Excellent post – and an important topic!
I’m in the same boat as you. Moving countries, changing jobs, transitioning from PhD student to assistant professor and all that threw my workout schedule out of balance. Plus, my husband loves eating out. So I was getting pretty out of shape, catching my breath while running the stairs and so on.
About a month ago, I joined the gym. I’m still fidgeting with my schedule (morning workouts? lunch break workouts? evening workouts?), but I’m already feeling (and seeing) the benefits. I’ve joined Holland’s VeganChallenge for the month of April, so my meals have been mostly very clean combinations of grains, beans and tons of veggies – what a change that makes in how I feel as well!

The first months here in Ecuador, I did not exercise much at all. When I came here, I had a good morning yoga-routine, but I started to slack and eventually lost the habit. I also noticed that yoga alone is not enough for me: I need to lift some weights as well, and do some fun cardio workouts (like Zumba) from time to time as well.

Signing up for the gym was certainly a good idea. I’ve been going frequently, enjoying the different classes that are offered, and lifting weights a few times a week.

Getting started with going to the gym again reminded me of the importance of doing exercise. Even when traveling, or when you can’t commit to a gym membership, you should attempt to move for at least 20 minutes a day.

Here are a few ideas for what you can do when exercise takes a backseat:

1. Walk

Get out of your office when you need to do some thinking work, and walk around. Walk to campus if it’s not too far. Go for a walk around the block in the evening to finish off your working day. Start to build the habit of moving back into your schedule.

2. Short online workouts

There is a wealth of information right at your fingertips. You can find a list of online yoga videos here. For strength training, you can try BodyRock. And then there are countless channels on YouTube and phone apps that give you short workouts focused on bodyweight exercises.

3. Reconsider your schedule

If you can’t find 20 minutes’ worth of time in a day for exercise, you might have a problem with your schedule. Maybe it’s time to rethink your responsibilities and delegate some work. Maybe you need to become a little more efficient. But if the President of the USA can find time every day to exercise, then what’s your excuse?

4. Make it fun

If you’ve been slacking, reflect on why you have not been working out. Did you lose your motivation? Are you pushing yourself too hard, or are you lacking a challenge? Try to find out what is missing, so that you can find a workout schedule that not only works, but that is so much fun and enjoyable that you won’t feel tempted to skip it.

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This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. While I thought \”ok, today is not a good day for the gym, better to dive into writing\”, I found your article… This is totally me and quite comforting to find out that I am not alone. I have been going to the gym regularly for many, many years. But now I am in the last sprint of the PhD, and I also teach, so it is hard to find motivation to go to the gym while a pile of marking sits on my desk and the writing schedule slips through my fingers. I also joined the yoga this last term, but as you said, it is not enough for me. I am getting out of shape anyway… Need to find balance, but it has been a hard one! Thanks for this post!

  2. Good luck! I'm still trying out a couple of things: going in the early morning, or during my lunch break, or in the evening… I haven't really figured out what works yet, but at least, I'm going to the gym again 🙂

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