Do You Have Time to Not Exercise Today?

No time for exercise today?

You know that exercise is good for your body, but what about your mind?  If you’re like me, you might sometimes think that your time would be better spent sleeping in or crossing something off of your to do list.  But what if getting moving would pay you back in dividends of more effectiveness and productivity during the rest of your time?

Let’s look at 5 ways that time spent being active can help you become MORE effective during your day.

1.  Exercise improves your mood.

Studies have repeatedly shown – and your personal experience will likely testify – that exercise puts you in a more positive frame of mind.  It is even an evidence-based treatment for depression.  After getting moving, we feel more positive and less irritated.  The frustrations of the day seem smaller and less important.  We are more likely to see things in a positive light.  Having a positive mood translates into more effective thinking about what we have to do today and how best to approach it, whether it be which tasks to work on or how to handle that difficult conversation.

When I am feeling edgy and decide to jump onto the emotional roller coaster and take a ride right along with my 14 year old, it is not a pretty sight.  And it certainly doesn’t make me more effective or move me toward any of my goals.  It just creates a mess.  But exercise absolutely gives me a little more determination and objectivity that helps me to hang out on the platform, patiently waiting for her return.

2.  Regular physical activity improves sleep quality.

Getting a terrible night’s rest sure doesn’t make it easier to workout.  But what if I told you that exercise would help you to feel MORE rested?  Because regular exercise helps to improve sleep quality, it also helps to make you feel less sleepy during the day and more refreshed.  If I feel more alert during the day, I will definitely be more effective and get more done all while having more patience.

Studies have shown that exercise improves sleep quality by:

  • reduces the time it takes to fall asleep
  • increases the total time sleeping
  • reduces the number of times participants wake during the night

So if you’re having trouble sleeping, try scheduling your exercise – especially in the morning.  These benefits were measured in participants who exercised moderately to vigorously 150 minutes a week – that’s just 30 minutes a day 5 times a week.

What could you do today if you felt more rested?

3.  Exercise gives you more energy.

This one is yet another paradox.

When you are jolted out of a dream by the blaring of an alarm at 5:30 AM, the absolute last thing in the world you want to do is to exercise.  Coffee in your bathrobe seems like a much better idea.  Or your husband gets home from work at 6 after you’ve had a long day.  You had planned to go for a walk, but you’d much rather pour a glass of wine and sit down to your first conversation with an adult today.

It’s counterintuitive, but studies have proved it over and over.  Exercise increases our energy level.  More energy to tackle that project, more energy to play with your kids, more energy to climb Mount Washmore.

We know it too, but we forget in the moment when the snooze button or the couch is calling.  The next time you’re tempted to skip your workout “just this once” because you just don’t feel energetic, remember that when you are feeling lethargic is exactly when you most NEED that workout.

4.  Exercise improves focus and memory.

After exercising, have you ever noticed an improvement in your ability to focus?  Ever come up with a new idea or solved a problem on a walk or run?  Research has proved that you’re not alone and that this is not a short-term result.

Regular, moderate exercise improves mental clarity, learning, and memory.  I don’t know about you but I can use all the help I can get in this area.  In these days of distraction, I need serious focus to be able to do the right thing at the right time.

5.  Working out equals fewer sick days.

You’ve heard it said that you can either make time for your health now, or else you’ll be forced to make time to be sick later.  Research has chimed in on this question as well.  Regular exercise strengthens our immune system.

If I don’t have time for a 30 minute workout, I certainly don’t have time to feel rotten for a week with a cold.  

Of course, moderate, regular exercise doesn’t just reduce our risk of catching a cold.   It boosts our immunity in general, decreasing our chances of coming down with the flu, bacterial infections, and even various types of cancer in both men and women.

The most compelling case for me personally is the clear evidence that regular exercise reduces our risk of breast cancer as well as mortality from breast cancer.  Because my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at 47 – and I know several women my age who have been diagnosed – this is something near and dear to my heart.  Thirty minutes a day is a small price to pay to reduce my chances of experiencing what these women have faced and to increase the likelihood that I’ll live to see my grand babies.

What do you think?

If you exercise regularly, do you find these benefits to be real?  If you don’t, do they surprise you?  Do you think any of these benefits would help you to be more effective in your roles or relationships?  Leave a comment to let me know!




  1. Great article! My motivation for exercise usually comes from two things; looking good and staying healthy. Both of those are long term goals, and sometimes it is hard to drag myself out of bed for benefits I won’t see for months or years to come. I never really think about all the benefits to my emotional well being and fuctionality TODAY! The way you layed out the benefits I will actually experience that day, is a whole different mindset for me! I think looking at it this way is really going to help me have that extra motivation when my warm cozy bed is calling my name!

    1. Yes!! It is so much more motivating for me to think about how exercise will make me feel better TODAY. Actually gets me out the door. So glad you liked it! Thanks for reading.

  2. I actually knew a lady who did push-ups before wearing a sleeveless dress to a Christmas party. It caused her muscles to look tone for the party. Now that is an immediate result. 🙂

    1. Wow! Yes, that is an immediate result! And kind of funny, but I totally believe it. I’m wearing a sleeveless shirt right now. Think I’ll do my push ups today 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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