The Argument for "Chunks of Time"
"I don't have time" is one of the primary reasons for not getting enough activity in our days. Here's the thing; I've been working in the fitness and health industry since 2001. Guess what one of the top reasons for not getting enough activity was in 2001?
"I don't have time"
As Albert Einstein said; "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Well, here we are over 2-decades later and our sedentary lifestyles are actually more prominent than back in the early 2000's. We continue to try the same things, go back to "what worked in the past", spend money on supplements, plans etc... but the majority of the time having no (sustainable) success.
A NOW issue...
An issue, right NOW, today, is that we still are functioning (health wise) on the same mentality we TRIED over 20 years ago. This mentality is our brainwashed, North American approach to health which promotes;
-Having to get a gym membership in order to "be healthy"
-Exercise with workout routines that are "cool" or "social media worthy"
-Exercise is a "workout" (i.e. 45+min of stuff we don't really like doing) otherwise, it "doesn't count"
-Eating healthy means we have to do things we don't want to do / eat things we don't like
-Exercise and Diet are the "ONLY things that make us healthy"
-Forcing these things upon ourselves will make our "willpower and discipline" rise to superhuman levels
The issue with this approach (aside that it's outdated and clearly not working for MOST people in the general population) is;
-We FORCE ourselves to do things we don't enjoy (meaning it won't last)
-We see it as a TEMPORARY thing that we can stop after a set amount of time / short-sighted goals and outcomes (6-weeks, 12-weeks etc)
-We believe forcing exercise and diet routines onto ourselves will fix EVERYTHING
-We tend to do the workout/routine/exercise (for the 45+min we set for ourselves) and then the rest of the day we spend sedentary ("because our workout is done for the day")*.
-These 45+ min routines of exercise that we squeeze into our days (for many people) become STRESSOR trying to figure out when they can get it done. Then if they plan to do it and don't, they stress about THAT. This causes a stress-response (on a regular basis) that creates additional barriers for us in our overall deep health.
*Part of this last point comes from the fact that we shoot for "destroying ourselves" in our routines to the point where we actually TAKE energy from ourselves rather than promote it.
The Argument for CHUNKS OF TIME
The Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology's (CSEP) 24-hour movement guidelines reminds us that our physical activity can be ACCUMULATIVE to create positive health benefits. Yet we (for decades) keep FORCING long periods of time into our days, that really don't work for the long haul.
This brings on my argument for CHUNKS OF TIME.
First and foremost if we can get away from the "exercise" mindset and move to "movement practice" you'll find a big difference very quickly. Notice in the 24-hour movement guidelines how they use words such as "physical activity", "strengthening activities", "light physical activities". This opens up alot of doors for both exercises and also TONS of other options that allow us to just MOVE!!
Adding activity / movement into your day in "chunks of time" throughout your day rather than an hour in the morning followed by the next 12hrs with minimal movement is going to not only allow you to feel better physically, but also promotes less stress with your health practices, and allows your body to practice more consistent movement throughout the day, which it will adapt to in positive ways.
Smaller chunks of time for movement are MUCH EASIER to fit into our daily, modern lives. Too many people are bombarding their schedules on a regular basis, constantly "busy", constantly on the go. How can we possibly fit in a sustainable movement practice of an hour or so (for example) on a consistent, long term basis?? It's UNREALISTIC!!
I just had a discussion with a client this morning about how, when I have a routine set where I know approximately how long of a chunk of time I need to do what I want to do, it's MUCH EASIER and WAY LESS STRESSFUL to fit it into my schedule. Recently I played with a new routine. It was a great routine. However, times would vary, intensities would vary and be unexpected so for my daily schedule and my weekly schedule/routines, it didn't work well for me. I need to be able to have an idea of time blocks / chunks of time to be consistent. Even something being good or great, ultimately it needs to work for YOU and your lifestyle. Let me show you what works for me;
-Wednesday morning I get to the studio at 6am (1hr before my first coaching session)
-I do a morning mobility routine (for hips/lowback) from Katy Bowman (10-15min)
-I do a morning meditation (3-5min)
-The rest of the time before my first session I don't have to rush. I make my coffee, prep my work day, maybe send an email or two
-Between client sessions (before 9am) I do my Easy Strength routine (15-20min).
-I have two more client sessions. *
-Then I head out for my walk (45-90min) before lunch (because I have my afternoon block so I know I don't have to be rushed)
*If I don't have a 10am client Wednesday mornings, I'll do my Easy Strength after my 9am client so I can go walk immediately after my lift session.
Where's this going Coach?
With this morning layout, it allows me after lunch to do what I want/need to do. Often I'll do some work for a bit and then another activity such as fly fishing, gardening, cutting the grass, other yard work, golf with friends, tennis with friends etc... before I go back to the studio for my evening sessions. As I type this, I look back on what I've done mid-way through my week and there is so much more done for myself and my health BECAUSE of this approach. I know for a fact that for me, if I tried to muster up an hour at a time to cram things in, I wouldn't be able to do it consistently with ease and I probably wouldn't feel as good physically.
I hear it all the time (and it's true); "Life gets busy"... "Life gets in the way"... "My week has been crazy". Yep! And it'll come back around again. We all know this. This only emphasizes the need to create an accumulative approach to your health practices each day by using "chunks of time" rather than "a workout" and then... nothing. Spread out your movement. Spread out your health practices throughout your ENTIRE day. In the end you'll sustain your practices, attach much less stress to them and reap the health benefits!!