Dr. Melissa Sundermann is a wife and mother of two, she recently started her own business, and as if that isn’t enough, she’s also a doctor who sees patients at Midwest Internal Medicine Associates and at Botsford Hospital. Oh, and she’s an accomplished marathon runner and triathlon competitor, recently finishing as the fastest female over age 40 from Michigan in the Boston Marathon (third fastest female from Michigan overall). People like Dr. Sundermann and their ability to accomplish so much in any given day amaze us. Most of us can’t seem to find the time to fit in just a little exercise!
Dr. Sundermann has the same amount of time in the day as the rest of us, so how does she manage family, essentially three jobs, and the rigorous training required to participate — and place well — in marathons? Better yet, how can we fit simple exercise into our own busy lives?
First of all, you don’t have to be a tri-athlete to lead a healthy lifestyle. Second, Dr. Sundermann is practically a pro who has honed her fitness habits and time management skills for years. So you don’t have to make drastic changes to get healthier. Instead, start slowly so you can create habits. Dr. Sundermann offers these 7 tips to fit exercise into a busy life:
- Time management is key. First of all you have to find the time to get some exercise. Take a look at your life to find where you can fit in 30 minutes for yourself. Most of us can find 30 minutes of unproductive time in our day. You know, that time spent on Facebook, watching TV, on the computer, or waiting around while the kids are at practice. It might take some tough choices and sacrificing some things that we like to do, but once you try replacing them with a physical activity that you enjoy you won’t miss them at all.
- Set a goal – any goal – and make it reasonable. For example, to walk in a 5K race or simply to establish a regular exercise program.
- Take baby steps to getting to your goal. Walk only five minutes at a time every day this week and next week increase it to 10 minutes.
- Find a partner. Having someone to exercise with can hold you accountable to your goals. If someone is waiting for you to meet them for a morning jog, you’ll be less likely to hit the snooze button.
- Do something you like. Don’t force it. If you make yourself do something just because it’s healthy, you’re not going to stick to it or you’ll procrastinate and waste time. Do something you enjoy so it’s more like you’re doing something for you, not because it is something you have to do. Of all the physical activities Dr. Sundermann participates in, her favorite activity is running. She’s even created a network of friends around it—people in running groups and marathons she’s entered, even co-workers and friends who share the same love of running. These are people who she can now socialize with while she’s getting a great workout, which makes the activity even more enjoyable.
- Establish a routine – and make it in the morning. Dr. Sundermann says if she doesn’t fit it in the morning, it won’t get done. Life will get in the way. Chores, work, family obligations and tons of other things all have to get done. And by the time you do them you’re too tired. Getting exercise in the morning not only makes sure it gets done, but it will also give you the energy you need to tackle your day. Set your alarm an hour earlier (or start with baby steps and set it 15 minutes, then 30 and so on). It will be hard to get out of bed, but once you’re up and moving you’ll be fine.
- Add physical activity to your family’s life. Get the kids and spouse involved in fun family activities. They don’t have to know it’s good for them, just that it’s fun! Get the kids on a soccer team and offer to coach it. Play a family game of touch football on the weekend or go for hikes or bike rides.
How have you fit exercise into your or your family’s busy life? We’d love to hear your tips in the comments below!
Melissa Sundermann, D.O. is a board-certified internal medicine physician who specializes in eating disorders. To make an appointment with her, visit the Midwest Internal Medicine Associates website or call (248) 615-0777.