There are No Good Excuses!
Brian Calkins - NSCA-CPT, ACE | Cincinnati, Ohio | April 3, 2008
Finding the time and desire to build physical activity into your daily life can sometimes be difficult. We can all come up with lots of excuses to avoid exercise. Below is look into some of the common barriers people raise, and some tips on how to move past them.
Some common excuses that keep us sedentary
Six common barriers to doing physical activity include:
"I don't have enough time" "Exercise is boring" "I don't know how to be active" "I"m too tired" "It's too hot", It's too cold", "It's raining" "I don't feel like it."
Below are a range of suggestions to help you overcome the more common barriers to exercise.
"I don't have enough time"
If you think this is an excuse you might use, try to:
Keep a diary of your daily activities for a week. Use the diary to assess how much spare time you actually have – you likely have more time than you think. Try to break up your exercise sessions into two 15-minute blocks, or even into three 10-minute blocks, if finding a spare 30 minutes each day to exercise is difficult. You'll still reap the fitness benefits. Involve your family. For example, instead of playing board games or watching television together, why not get outside. You could play tons of backyard games, go to your local swimming pool or take a walk through the park. Take a brisk 15-minute walk at lunchtime. Find lots of ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily life. For example, walk or bike instead of taking a bus or car. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Remember, exercise creates energy and enhanced productivity.
"Exercise is boring"
Sometimes lack of interest is the problem rather than lack of time. If you think exercise is boring, why don't you:
Exercise with a friend, join a walking or running group or take up a team sport. Physical activity doesn't have to be a solitary pursuit. Think back to physical activities you enjoyed as a child. Did you love to roller skate, ride your bike or jump on a trampoline? Did you play a team sport? Revisit these activities and you will likely find them just as enjoyable today. Change the way you think about physical activity. Don't think that exercise must be painful or dull in order to be "good" for you. Physical activity is all about getting more movement into your day. Activity should also be fun. Think about pursuits like dancing, gardening or sex. Mix it up. Plan to participate in a range of physical activities. Join a fitness boot camp for a ton of variety. Consider using exercise equipment at home (such as a stationary bike or treadmill) so that you can work out while watching your favorite television shows, series and movies.
"I don't know how to be active"
There are lots of people ready to help you when you're ready to get moving.
See your doctor for suggestions and support when embarking on a physical activity program. Contact your local community center as many offer a range of physical activity classes at modest prices. Visit your local gym or sports centre. Most gyms, health clubs and private fitness studios clubs offer many options to get more movement in. Find an activity that appeals to you. Pick something that really interests you. What sport do you enjoy watching on television? For example, if you never miss the US Open, perhaps taking up tennis would interest you. Ask any of your physically active friends if you can come along during their next exercise session.
"I'm too unfit"
There's something for everyone to do, even if you're not feeling the best. Gradually increasing your activity always helps you feel better. Suggestions include:
See your doctor for a full medical check-up before starting any physical activity program, particularly if you are obese, over 40, haven't exercised in a long time or have a chronic medical condition. Your doctor can assist and support you to make changes to your lifestyle. Choose an activity that feels comfortable. For example, swimming may be suitable because the buoyancy of the water supports your body. Start slowly. Begin by exercising for about 10 - 30 minutes every day. Gradually increase the time and intensity as your fitness improves. Don't push yourself too hard if you've been sedentary too long. You will get better, I promise. See the direction of a well qualified personal fitness trainer.
"I'm too tired"
Life can be exhausting but, amazingly, the more active you are, the more energy you will have for everything else in your life. Suggestions include:
Try to be active on most days of the week and you'll soon feel more energetic. The fitter you are, the more energy you have. Rearrange your schedule if you can, so that you can be active in the morning rather than at night. Exercise during your lunch break or build activity into your commute to work by cycling or walking part or all of the way. Improve your diet. Healthy foods boost your energy levels. Try to get more sleep.
"It's too hot", It's too cold", "It's raining"
There's always something you can do, regardless of the weather. Suggestions include:
Have a variety of indoor and outdoor activities to choose from so that weather can't interfere with your exercise plans. Choose indoor activities, such as working out to an exercise video or stationary cycling, on days when you don't want to exercise outdoors. Join an indoor small group fitness program. Work out in a gym or swim at your local pool. Take a brisk walk through your local mall. Choose weather-specific activities such as skiing or snow-play in winter or swimming in summer.
"I don't feel like it"
Changing our habits isn't always easy, but once you start to feel better you will see the benefits of the changes you've made. If you don't feel like being active, try to:
Identify your barriers to physical activity. Review the benefits of physical activity. For example, regular exercise eases depression and anxiety, aids in weight loss, improves sleep and helps to manage back pain. Find personal reasons to motivate you to become more active. Choose solitary pursuits like working out to an exercise video if you feel uncomfortable exercising in front of other people. Make sure your goals are reasonable. Avoid the "all-or-nothing" trap of thinking that physical activity is a waste of time if it can't make you super-fit or super-slim. Plan ahead for periods of physical activity. Make appointments with yourself in your diary. Hire a personal trainer who will help you stay accountable. Find yourself an exercise buddy. You are more likely to commit to regular physical activity if you have someone else relying on you.
Where to get help
Things to remember
The best sort of physical activity is the one you enjoy because that is the one that you will maintain.
Identify your personal barriers to exercise. Try to incorporate physical activity into your daily life – for example, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Find physical activities that appeal to you. Exercise isn't supposed to be dull.
At our fitness boot camps, Total Fitness Makeover classes, and with our personal training clients, we incorporate fun movements that takes the boring out of exercise, movements that overtime produces substantial changes in your health, energy and body. bear crawl, the crab walk and the wheel barrel walk. We listen to fun music and make exercise an enjoyable social outlet designed to have a good time and forget that after all, we're "working out".
Have some fun, and always remember how you feel just after completing an exercise session!