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There's no time for excuses when being fit is a priority
Area residents make time to exercise despite busy days of working and caring for family

 Lisa Bibel of King George County uses Wii Fit to work out while her daughter, Emily, works on a school project. Bibel, whose schedule is packed with work and family responsibilities, relies on Wii Fit and walking with her dog for exercise.
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Date published: 3/15/2009

BY EMILY BATTLE

According to the federal government, we're supposed to get at least 21/2 hours of exercise a week to stay healthy.

But commuting to work, driving kids to activities, cooking dinner, paying bills and everything else we have to do can make it tough to find even the time to catch our breath, not to mention lose it on the treadmill.

So how do people squeeze physical activity into the small openings in their busy lives?

More than 50 people responded when we asked for help finding people who make time for exercise, sharing countless tips and tricks on how they stay active while leading busy lives.

Here are some of their stories:

LIFTING WEIGHTS AFTER DINNER

Exercise was not part of Jim Crawford's life until, at 32, he found himself on cholesterol and blood-pressure medications. At 358 pounds, he worried about the length and quality of the life he'd be able to spend with his youngest son, then 3.

So he signed up with Weight Watchers. At first, he focused more on watching his diet than on physical activity, but then Crawford started walking a little bit every day.

He started with just 15 minutes. Then 30. Then more.

After his first year with Weight Watchers, he was 138 pounds lighter. Crawford knew he couldn't keep the weight off for the long term if all he did was whittle his diet down to a tasteless, pleasureless array of foods.

Family dinners at restaurants are a favorite weekend activity, and Crawford says there's no point paying for someone else to cook if you're not going to order something you like.

So he knew he was going to have to make exercise a regular part of his life. His strategy: Get rid of all excuses.

Crawford works in information technology for the National Science Foundation. He wakes at 4:30 each morning to catch a van to Arlington.

Working out in the morning is not an option for him--he says it's hard enough just to get to the van on time.

Crawford leaves work just after 4 p.m., and typically returns to his house by 6 p.m.

He does have a gym at his office, and gets in some activity there. But the key to his consistent workouts is his home gym.


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How to stay active

Many regular exercisers told us they rise before the sun to head to a gym or use the treadmill in the basement. But not everybody's a morning person. Other exercisers explained complicated schedules that involved slipping activity into even the smallest gaps in the itinerary.

Wii Fit--a video game that uses motion-sensor technology to count your crunches, push-ups and yoga poses--has helped many area residents stay in shape and lose weight. Some have even found its stat-tracking addictive.

Others found fresh ways to view exercise, like counting household chores toward their daily activity goals--there's not a Nautilus machine at the gym that simulates the upper-body effects of scrubbing a bathtub.