In Summary
  • One important thing to know is that there are ways to ensure you still get the best possible results, even when it feels like your busy life gets in the way of your fitness goals. Here are options for when you are too short on time to work out.

While your stomach rejoices after a meal, your muscles rejoice when you work out. Well, it might not be the case in the beginning but with time, they certainly do. Personally, I try to exercise as much as I can. However, there are days when schedules get so tight that I can barely find time to work out.
Melisa Kabajungu’s work schedule also interferes with her exercise schedule. “I get to office as early as 6am and will be lucky to be out by 6pm.” Talk about a workaholic, but she actually wishes she could get at least an hour to stretch after hours of sitting before her computer.

“My body was starting to take the beating when I asked my immediate boss that I start leaving at 6pm so that I could spare one hour to work out. While this worked well, there were days, especially at the end of the month when I could barely get 20 minutes to work out due to tight deadlines. I have seen my body rebel when I resume exercising and the muscles scream after days of laxity. During this time, I also notice a bit of weight gain,” she says.

Elly Muhereza, a wellness and fitness coach, says: “Even though a period of say, two weeks, workout-free does not seem like a long break, it makes a difference, physically, mentally and emotionally. Basing on my fitness experience, gym-goers struggle to get back into the swing of things all the time after they have been off for some time,” he says. Muhereza adds that when one misses a work out, their muscle mass gradually decreases as they start losing their fat-burning capabilities. In due course, on starts losing strength.

“It is unfortunate that one cannot see the process happening but it is because often used muscles such as hamstrings lose tone at a slower pace than the small, less-used muscle group, such as the abs,” he says.
How to get back
It is without a doubt that you will have to work extra hard to recover what you have lost. Muhereza says there is need to double the amount of time you took off to get back to your previous fitness level and muscle strength.

However, when you are in Kabajungu’s shoes, a lot of adjustments have to be made if you are to get any exercise done. “I started waking up at 4am to work out for an hour so that I could be at work by 7am. I also purposed to leave work by 6pm so that I could get an hour to work out before going,” she says, adding that she also replaced aerobics with cardiovascular exercises, swimming and weight lifting to get more out of the hour.
Ben Zabinga, a fitness coach, says one can begin with taking it easy since putting a lot of strain on the body might lead to injuries.

That said, you should have a programme that you follow. Begin with a simple warm-up, say skipping or using the treadmill where you begin by walking and then jog as you progress with a steady speed. Alternatively, you can use a cross trainer or a stationary bike. After stretching, the other option is to begin warming up with body weight exercises such as jumping jacks, knee ups, and stationary runs.
After the warm up, Zabinga advises that you proceed to the major exercise.

“For example, if it is weights, lift light weights. Begin with a free bar (olympic bar) and do this for 20 times in sets of three. Then you can add five kilogrammes on each side of the bar for 10 times in sets of three,” he advises.
Bottom line, for a comeback, Zabinga says one should start slowly and gradually progress with time and some minimal supervision for motivation. “That helps the body to accept whatever you are doing and gradually demand for more until you reach your peak. It requires consistency, discipline and patience,” he says.

Elly Muhereza, a wellness and fitness coach, says while there should be no pressure to head to the gym daily, the benefits of regular scheduled exercises are immense. He adds that when you miss a work out, your metabolism slows down as you will burn less calories. So if you eat the same calorie-filled meals minus exercising for two weeks, your body will not be burning the extra calories and you could potentially add weight.
“Exercises also help reduce stress and tension as the body releases endorphins which make you happy. Devoid of the “natural release of endorphins” you will be susceptible to emotional stress,” he concludes.