Lack of time is a large obstacle keeping many people from regular exercise. Many people lead hectic lives or work strange hours that make exercise very inconvenient. Family commitments also restrain some from getting to the gym. I don’t have children, but I can completely understand that life is more difficult for someone seeking to spend an hour engaged in exercise when parenting a small child is involved. However, I contend that making time for regular exercise is so important that you would be a fool not to make the necessary sacrifices. You would not allow yourself to trade instant gratification for long-term happiness in any other facet of life, and specifically in one particular facet of life: finances. Read more if you’re curious what I’m smokin’.
Most of us recognize the importance of saving and investing. Many people do not spend all they earn, and tuck away a portion of their earnings for the future when those earnings may be more difficult to obtain. This is a short-term buzzkill, as we would have much more fun spending that money here and now. However, we recognize that saving and investing is absolutely necessary for long-term prosperity. We deny ourselves just a little today to ensure that we do not deny ourselves a great deal in the coming years.
This universally accepted practice of investing money for the future is almost directly analogous to investing time in fitness. However, it is not directly analogous because investing time in fitness is actually better: It pays dividends both now and later.
Would you allow yourself to spend all you earn and invest nothing? Then don’t allow yourself to spend every one of your 24 hours in the here and now—invest some in tomorrow. Some may find spending time on exercise dreadful compared to staying home with family. After all, spending time with family is very important, and perhaps even an investment itself. But what if you could invest your time in an activity that would give you more long-term time with your family and increase the quality of the time you spend with your family every day? This is exercise.
Furthermore, carving out this time will not always be a burden. It will turn into a joy that you eagerly anticipate each day. Something feels fundamentally “good” about regular exercise. As Mark Rippetoe put it (paraphrase), “Our bodies evolved in a state of constant physical activity. You need exercise just to be normal.”
It’s easy for me to say anecdotally that regular exercise will improve your quality of life and extend your life. However, the skeptics who would doubt this claim have a mountain of medical evidence to overcome. One recent study from the Archives of Internal Medicine found that one year of regular resistance training in elderly women improved “executive function” by 11-13%. Here’s the kicker: “Executive function” doesn’t have anything to do with their Fran time or how much they can squat. “Executive function” was defined as general life skills such as decision-making, conflict resolution, and ability to focus without being distracted. Therefore, regular exercise increased the ability of elderly women to balance a checkbook and discern a telemarketing scam, not to mention the positive physical effects that weren’t the subject of the study! Does this sound like something that would be beneficial in your old age, and possibly make for some better time spent with your grandchildren? Additionally, this study shows that when a human breaks his hip he immediately incurs a 25% chance of death within five years. Increasing the strength of the tissue and bones comprising your hip seems like a good idea. This is part of the reason CrossFit focuses so heavily on hip extension–it is absolutely essential for a functional life.
If articles about the benefits of exercise in your old age don’t seem terribly relevant, consider the following:
- You must either get older or die. No other option exists. You will be old one day—or you won’t be around to care if you’re not.
- You can create an incredible hedge against poor aging through a lifetime of fitness.
- Unlike investing money, fitness pays off now as much as it pays off later. It’s like a Bernie Madoff pyramid marketing scheme that never dissolves into financial ruin and lawsuits.
People that exercise regularly are more content, less stressed, have outlets for their frustration, and generally have better relationships than their sedentary counterparts. Don’t believe me? If you exercise regularly, then you already know this is true. If you don’t exercise regularly, then ask someone who does, and they’ll tell you it’s true. Would these qualities lead to better time spent with your family and friends?
As always, making time for exercise is the difficult part. But just as you wouldn’t allow yourself to frivolously spend every dollar you earn, you should insist on smart investments for your time as well. With money this might mean deciding that the new Italian sports car you’d really love to drive might not be as good a choice as the used American car that comes complete with a government-backed warranty. With fitness this means realizing that the hour you devote to exercise is not an hour wasted or an hour stolen from you or your family. It’s an hour spent ensuring that your other 23 hours are the best they can be, and that you’ll be spending many more quality hours with your family in the future than if you had chosen to stay home and watch prime time TV. Responsible people make difficult and unpopular decisions. Be responsible, even if it is unpopular. Invest in your fitness and your future.