Some people love to exercise; for others, it is the bane of their existence. If you fall into the latter category, you probably have a reason or two for not exercising and guilt because you know you should. The fact is, everyone needs at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week for optimum health. Even splitting the time into three 10-minute chunks of moderate-intensity activity a day provides benefits.
Between work and children, school and homework, exercise is hard to fit in – but not impossible. Take the stairs when you can, walk on your lunch hour or park in the space farthest from the store. Better yet, walk to the store. Walk to pick up your children from school and run around with your dog in the backyard.
A full day of work, school, errands and child care can wipe you out. Exercise at a time of day when you have more energy. Set your alarm for 15 or 20 minutes sooner and pop in an exercise DVD before your shower. Walk at lunchtime, or stop by the gym before you get home and call it a day.
Other activities can eat up your free time – video games, texting your friends or going to the movies. Make exercise a priority. Grab a hula hoop between save blocks on the video game. Choose a social activity that doesn’t require you to sit. Go bowling, shop at the mall, or play a game of laser tag.
Haven’t Developed the Habit
Stick-to-it-iveness is hard to come by. Make a commitment to yourself to exercise for a month straight, no excuses. After three to four weeks, the habit should be forming, and you won’t have to struggle with it every day. Remember the reasons you want to exercise, set small goals and follow your plan.
If you think you have no reason to exercise, you won’t be motivated. Educate yourself on why lifelong exercise is important to your health and well-being, even if you are already slim and in good health. For a more mundane motivator, reward yourself for meeting your short-term exercise goals.
You may be overwhelmed if you’ve never had an exercise routine before. So, start small. Take the stairs or walk around the block. Instead of forwarding through commercials, let them run, and do some jumping jacks while they're on. Work your way up to 10 minutes of exercise at a time and build from there.
If your diet is lacking in nutrition, you might not have enough energy to exercise. Get out of the fast food stupor and ditch the sweets. Eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy protein will make you more energetic, alert and disposed to exercising.
Current Physical Condition
Perhaps you’re obese, you’ve had a heart attack, or you feel that you’re too old to exercise. You may have to check with your doctor first, but almost everyone is able to perform some sort of physical activity regardless of size, age or condition.
You don’t need access to a gym or fancy equipment to exercise. You can exercise inexpensively at home with a resistance band, a set of dumbbells and a program to get you going. Use an exercise DVD or find appropriate exercises in a book or online. You can even exercise with no equipment, using only your body weight.
Lack of Results
When you don’t see the results you think you should, you may become dispirited and unmotivated. But keep moving. Exercise changes your body more than you realize. It reduces blood pressure, increases endurance and strength, and protects against some chronic diseases. Even without visible results, you are doing your body good.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity for Everyone
- CDC: Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity – Barriers to Being Active Quiz
- National Institutes of Health: News in Health – Making Your Resolutions Stick
- MyPyramid.gov: Why Is Physical Activity Important?
- National Institute on Aging: Your Everyday Guide – Exercise and Physical Activity
- “Guide to Physical Fitness and Exercise”; Pamela B. Carter; 2006