Here's how to turn exercise from a chore into a reward: Find an activity that suits you, then do it before you can find an excuse. Then do it again. "Stick with it," says Greg Payne, chair of the department of kinesiology at California's San José State University. "Once you're used to it, it becomes comfortable, and even pleasant."
Payne suggests we don't have time not to exercise. "How important is not only the quality of your time but the quantity?" Getting your heart rate into its target zone for 30 minutes a day can actually give time back, he says. "You'll find an increase in your energy and motivation...Instead of being exhausted in the evening, you'll find that you have more productive time."
Mimi Csolti, a San Francisco–based trainer, suggests these ways to keep the ball rolling:
• Make exercise a priority. Don't let it be the first thing that falls off the schedule.• Add accountability. Having a workout buddy expecting you at the gym helps you get those sneakers on.
• Use everyday tools. Write a motivational note on your daily planner, or set your email to send you a reminder that 6 p.m. is walk time.
• Walk your dog. Sparky is a workout companion who will never forget the schedule. When you get in the habit of walking together twice a day, it becomes essential for both of you. — Alison Aves
Secrets of busy women
Here's how some Westerners find the time for exercise and stress relief.
"I go on a 20-minute morning walk every day. I didn't think I had the time, but found that when I get back from my walk I'm energized and get ready for work more quickly." — Berenice Lai, Fremont, CA
"I schedule time to do things I enjoy, like going for a hike once a week, rather than putting those things last. I prioritize them."— Amy Vest, San Francisco
"I used to run around cleaning while my daughter would take her nap. Now I just try to sit and relax. I don't worry anymore when the laundry doesn't get done or our place isn't spotless."— Kathy Weekes, Oakland, CA