We all know the importance of exercise; we've heard it many times through TV shows, blogs, books, our parents/friends, but have we considered how exercise is VERY essential to a productive lifestyle? I know from personal experience, if I don't exercise for a stretch of few days to a week, my productivity tends to drop. I tend to feel slower and lethargic :(
Exercise is ESSENTIAL to stay productive. I cannot stress this enough.
While bad health and disease is often beyond our control, we must take the precautions available to us to maintain our physical health. Our bodies are gifts from Allah, and we will be held accountable for how we use them.
Furthermore, a Muslim should be able to defend his or herself from aggression (which requires physical strength) and should be prepared to struggle in the path of Allah, should the occasion arise. For this reason, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has said: "The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, while there is good in both." (Reported by Muslim.)
"Any action without the remembrance of Allah is either a diversion or heedlessness excepting four acts: Walking from target to target [during archery practice], training a horse, playing with one's family, and learning to swim." (Reported by Tabarani.)
It should be kept in mind that the Prophet and the Companions were naturally physically fit. Life was tougher back then – long distances were covered on foot, men hunted and farmed their food to survive, and there did not exist useless recreations - like television - to produce laziness and waste many hours of otherwise constructive time. It was almost assumed back then that believers would be physically fit. It was not until later generations that the scholars encountered actual obesity and laziness.
A Muslim man and woman is required to dress appropriately while exercising in front of others, being sure to cover his or her 'Awrah (nakedness) and to not wear revealing and tight clothing like spandex. The average gym these days entails mixed sexes in revealing clothing and loud music and thus should be avoided.
Husbands and wives should try to exercise and play together. This is a good way of building love and happiness together. The Prophet's (peace be upon him) wife 'Aisha (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: "I raced with the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) and beat him in the race. Later, when I had put on some weight, we raced again and he won. Then he said, 'This cancels that,' referring to the previous occasion." (Reported by Ahmad.)
So how can you get into the habit of exercising regularly?
Set the days of week you'll exercise in advance when you plan your week: 3-4 days a week should be sufficient.
Set the actual hours you'll exercise: Make sure you've specific times to exercise (ideally early in the morning when you have most will power!)
Prepare yourself before the exercise appointment: Get your gym bag/gym clothes ready, decide which exercise you'll get done, call an exercise buddy, etc.
Add variety to your exercise routine: It doesn't have to be the gym each time, it could be a variety of exercises.
Try to aim for at least 75-150 minutes of intense to moderate exercise each week and that should keep your mind sharp, your productivity soaring and you feeling great inshaa'Allaah!