Six Ways to Skip the Excuses and Start Exercising Today
Despite the recommendation for getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, sixty percent of American adults still do not exercise on a daily basis. We come up with a million excuses why, but the fact is, if it is important to you, you will find a way. Here are the most common excuses for why we decide not to exercise and how to combat them.
“I don’t have the time.”
We all have the same 1440 minutes each and every day, but of course we use them differently. Even the busiest of us can probably find a 15 minute block of time to squeeze in a short walk. Even though this doesn’t meet the 30 minute CDC recommendation, it is still better than not getting any physical activity at all. Eventually, work your way up to 30 minutes of exercise each day, even if you do it in two sessions of 15 minutes each.
To find wasted pockets of time in your day (ie: time surfing the internet or watching television reruns), keep a 24-hour log of at least one workday and one weekend day. You will quickly see a time you can slip in “mini-chunks” of exercise, says Laura Vanderkam, author of “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.”
Remember that it helps to write down when and where you plan to exercise each day, just as you would any other important appointment.
“I don’t know what to do.”
This excuse is often accompanied by “I hate exercise.” Too many of us force ourselves to do an exercise that just doesn’t fit. For example, not all of us are runners at heart. Make a list of the activities you like to do or would like to try – walking, swimming, dancing, aerobics, Zumba, yoga or pilates, bicycling, rollerblading, hiking, etc. Find a location near you, or look into the wide range of DVD’s and home equipment to purchase so you can exercise in the privacy of your own home.
Remember also that daily exercise does not have to be expensive. If the cost of a gym membership is out of your price range, find a local park to walk, play Frisbee with the kids, or do pull-ups on the monkey bars for free. Locate an office building or sports stadium near you where you can walk the stairs. Many local malls have walking clubs that you can join for free. Borrow workout DVD’s from the library or use your Netflix membership to stream exercise videos.
“It Looks Like Rain/It’s too Cold (or Hot).”
Don’t let the weather hinder your workouts. Keep the list you wrote above of all the exercises you like to do, and find one that can be done indoors if the weather is bad. Alternatively, get yourself some rain gear or a heavier coat with gloves and a hat and get outdoors anyway. Just be safe!
“I’m too tired.”
While you might feel exhausted after a long day at work, studies show that regular exercise can actually improve your energy levels. Even if you suffer from a health condition that causes fatigue, incorporating gentle exercise into the day can provide direct benefits. Lack of sleep that causes daytime sleepiness is another condition that can actually be improved with a little bit of physical activity during the day.
If being tired is your excuse not to work out, remember this – the first five minutes are the hardest. Go for a short five minute walk and then make a decision – go back and rest (try again tomorrow) or keep going. Most of the time, you will keep going. If you are truly fatigued, try gentle exercises such as yoga and stretching that you can do at home.
“I don’t want to redo my hair and makeup.”
For women, this can be a biggie. Not necessarily because of vanity, but if you find that a lunchtime workout is best for your schedule, you probably do not want to return to work looking disheveled. For tips on how to look fresh after a mid-afternoon workout, read “Lunchtime Exercise: How to Still Look Fresh When You Go Back to Work”
“I’m embarrassed about how I look/I don’t have the right clothes.”
Please don’t be. If you are overweight, and you are exercising, most people will admire your efforts and not judge you. There are exercise clothes available for plus-sized men and women (check Wal-Mart for affordable brands), but all you really need is a comfortable t-shirt, shorts or sweatpants, a support bra (women), and a good pair of athletic shoes. An undergarment (such as bike shorts) made of Spandex can help prevent chafing and can provide support for those jiggly areas of the belly, hips and thighs. Swimmers can purchase a swim dress that provides more coverage, or wear bike shorts over your swimsuit.
If you are self-conscious about changing clothes in the locker room, find a private restroom instead. For showering, consider bringing your own towel and a robe so you are sure you are covered walking to and from the shower.
“Exercise makes me eat more.”
It may seem like you eat more when you are more active, but research actually shows that most of us will eat less over the course of a day when we exercise. We also are more likely to choose healthier foods, such as lean meats, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables so as not to “undo” all of our hard work.
But if you do feel like you need a snack after a workout, choose a 150-200 calorie mix of protein, carbs, and healthy fat says Stella L. Volpe, chair of the department of nutrition sciences at Drexel University. The carbohydrate will replenish some of the fuel you burned during the workout, while the protein and fat will digest more slowly, keeping you satisfied longer.
Once you have made the decision that exercise is important to your health and well-being, and you make the commitment to start today, you will find that the excuses just fade away!