Perhaps one of the biggest complaints I hear about physical activity, getting enough rest, and healthy eating is that people often, “don’t have enough time.”
The reality behind that statement is that we are unwilling to make time.
Because we can always find times for the things that matter most to us. Most people, who “don’t have enough time” still manage to watch (on average) just over four hours of television a day.
So the problem is not so much having time, it’s creating the mindset and belief that we need that time.
I remember when I made that shift for myself.
Outside of a timeframe from late college through my Master’s program (a timeframe of about five or six years), I’ve always been reasonably healthy and physically active. I grew up under the wide blue skies of Kansas and spend most of the long summer days outside.
As a child, I was always involved in sports growing up and was a dedicated athlete in high school. I relished the two and three-a-day times of practice. For me, those times were sacred and therapeutic.
In college I started playing racketball and tried (unsuccessfully) to get excited about running.
In seminary, I didn’t have time for much (even I tried using that excuse once upon a time). I falsely believed that my time was too limited to engage regularly in physical activity.
The reality? I had other areas of unhealthiness in my life that made it hard to focus. That time began my journey towards holistic health as I spent time in counseling getting spiritually, mentally, and emotionally healthy.
I spent years working on the lower bases of the Health and Integrity Pyramid. I had a lot to reconcile inside myself in order to reframe the problem of physical health. Once I was internally at a better place, exercise became a key cornerstone of my total health regimen.
Now, I exercise regularly five to six times a week. I mix in strength training, cardio, Crossfit inspired workouts, and my beloved kettlebell.
What I’ve discovered is that the physical activity, endorphin release, and personal time have never once detracted from the other areas of my life, rather, regular physical activity enhances all other areas of my life.
Exercise gives me more energy to be a better husband and father. I now enjoy more (and longer) times of playing with my children because I have increased energy.
The endorphin release associated with physical activity makes us happy, improves our outlook on difficult situations, lowers stress, inspires, increases creativity, and improves our mood.
When we commit to seeing physical activity not as an ‘add-on’ to our already over-scheduled lives, but as a key component to our overall leadership capacity, we don’t have to ‘find the time’ to exercise because our schedules automatically create time for it to happen.
If you need some help to get started on your new journey towards holistic health, here is one big key that will make sure your new habit sticks: pick something you enjoy.
Running isn’t for everyone. For years, I didn’t enjoy it. What I needed were goals, and a good pair of shoes. Shoes can make or break your running experience.
Running is a fairly cheap sport to invest in. In addition to that, the risk of injury is relatively low, and you can do it almost anywhere.
As I’ve said, I’m also a huge fan of the kettlebell. Here is the one I use regularly. Pick a weight and a style that works for you and dive in. A quick scan of Pinterest and YouTube reveal hundreds of workout routines. Similar to running running, the kettlebell is a quick, easy, and inexpensive piece of equipment.
For the sake of ease and quickness, here’s a routine I use when time is limited. Do each move ten times. For moves like the clean and press that are one-handed, do each side ten times (twenty total per round).
This workout is quick, challenging, and works the entire body plus cardio. Move from one move to the next without rest, and then rest for 30 seconds between rounds. Depending on how quickly you move and how much rest you take, this routine can be completed in 30-40 minutes.
Like we have seen in other aspects of the Health and Integrity Pyramid, physical activity has benefits across the spectrum. In fact, in my years of research on burnout and leadership health, I’ve discovered that those that struggle with burnout often don’t physically take care of their bodies.
In Philippians 4, Paul writes: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” In as much as this is true for our spiritual and mental health, I am convinced that the working of this is true in our physical health. The food we eat, the time we dedicate for sleep, and the habit of exercise is critical for our leadership growth. Actively and intentionally engaging in these acts deepen our character, enhance our leadership, and increase our abilities to lead lives of legacy and impact.