Most Americans know it’s important to get exercise every day. Regular physical activity can reduce your risk of contracting major illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure. It can also help you have stronger bones, muscles and joints and lower the risk of osteoporosis. Exercise also helps you feel better – it can lead to a happier, more energetic lifestyle and deep, relaxed sleep.
Not everyone has jumped onto the workout band wagon yet, though. Some people report they are too busy, confused about how to begin or have fears of suffering too much pain. It’s important not to let these types of excuses prevent you from enjoying the many benefits of exercising regularly.
Bike riding is a fun family activity
Here are some common excuses for why people don’t get moving and some solutions to help ease the discomfort of getting started. Excuse #1: “I don’t have enough time to exercise.” Solution #1: Everyone has 24 hours per day. The key is in how you prioritize and manage your time. Action Steps:
- With a calendar in front of you, block out times during the next week for the primary responsibilities you need to meet with your schedule.
- Look for at least 30 minutes per day that you can fit exercise into your schedule, even if it is in three 10 minute blocks of time.
- Start right now. Don’t wait for work to ease up or car pooling responsibilities to end. Start now with the time you do have to complete the workouts you can manage.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help with child care or other responsibilities that are preventing you from having time to exercise. Turn to a trusted friend or counselor to help you if you are struggling with your schedule.
Excuse #2: “I will start exercising when I’m in better shape.” Solution #2: Start exercising to get in better shape. Stop the circular thinking and get moving! Action Steps:
- Accept your current fitness level. Don’t pressure yourself to do more than you can right now.
- Understand it will take time to build strength, endurance and confidence – but it’s so worth it!
- Take your time and take it easy so you don’t sustain an injury.
- There are lots of online resources and publications to help people exercise. One resource that many beginners (and intermediate exercisers) turn to is About.com Exercise. Here is a suggested endurance workout tailored for beginners or intermediate users. Cardio Endurance for Beginner and Intermediate Exercisers
Yoga is an enjoyable and low-impact exercise
Excuse #3: “It’s too uncomfortable for me to exercise.” Solution #3: Take it easy. There will be some discomfort as you sweat, breathe harder, your heart pounds and your lungs burn. The solution is to ease into working out, doing a little bit more each time. Action Steps: Here are some suggestions to make it easier to deal with the inevitable discomfort of starting an exercise routine.
- Start by exercising lightly and by stretching to warm up. Warming up helps your muscles get ready to exercise and prevents injuries.
- Buy good quality shoes that fit you well. You can even injure yourself wearing shoes that don’t have enough support. Here is a helpful resource “What is the Best Shoe for Your Foot Type?” to help you figure out the best running shoe for your foot type. Always try shoes on and wear them for a short period of time before exercising in them.
- Measure your heart rate while you’re exercising. Here’s a Target Heart Rate Calculator that will easily help you identify your target heart rate zone so that you get the most out of your workouts.
- Always cool down. A cool down is usually some stretching exercises to help your muscles recover and repair themselves so that you don’t sustain an injury.
- Concerned about exercising in cold weather? There are lots of ways to enjoy the outdoors even in colder weather. Here are some suggestions for staying active when the weather gets cold.
Skiing is a great family exercise!
Excuse #4: “I don’t know what to do to get started.” Solution #4: Keep it simple. You don’t need fancy workout clothes, equipment or exercise program. Just get moving. Action Steps:
- Start with a daily walk. Walk at a brisk pace until you start sweating and go for as long as you can. Build up to 20 – 60 minutes. Repeat at least three times a week.
- Try other activities you enjoy. Here is a list to get your creativity going:
- Bicycle Riding
- Skiing / Snowshoeing (for those in snowy climates)
- Rock climbing
- Geocaching (treasure hunting)
- Dancing (there are so many different types of dances!)
- Play outside with your kids (or kids you know)
- Take a martial arts class
- Build a standing desk to strengthen your legs
- Briskly clean the house and/or work in the yard and garden
- Do yoga
- Play a musical instrument
- Join a recreation league (bowling, kickball, softball, etc.)
- Do everything listed above with a friend to have more fun!
- Listen to your favorite upbeat music to increase your enjoyment
Being active is one of the greatest joys in life and it reaps many physical and emotional rewards. Have fun, try new ways to move and get going! And let us know how it goes for you – we want to hear! What is your favorite way to exercise?