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How do you feel when you hear the word
exercise? Joy? Apathy? Uncontrolled eye-roll? With countless scientific papers that continue to praise the benefits of exercise, participating in consistent exercise comes with so many health benefits. So why does the thought of participating in exercise cause hesitation?
Although your reasons may be unique to you, know that the benefits of exercise outweigh the risks. Read on to learn five common barriers many of us face, and why many times, it is all in our head, we just need to get out of our way
5 Misconceptions About Exercise
I have to go to the gym to get the best results.
The gym is great, isn’t it? All the equipment in one place. You can try the new cable weights or stationary bike if you want. They even have showers, so you can freshen up and continue your day.
I’m not knocking gyms, they are an excellent resource for improving your fitness and having access to a variety of equipment. But these things only benefit you if you go. Some of you reading this may have a gym membership but are struggling to think when the last time it was that you went. Or the headache of figuring out if the machine you want to use is even available.
Have a reality check with yourself. Why aren’t you going to the gym? Is it inconvenient from where you live/work? Do you work odd hours, so your window of opportunity to go to the gym is small? As I said, gyms are a great resource, but only if you can use them.
You can get as valid a workout from home as you can from the gym. In a way, you can get better results, because you’ve taken away the travel barrier from reaching your goals.
It’s all about convenience. The more convenient it is, the more likely you will convince yourself to do it. Bonus - All the essential pieces of equipment you need, you already have. A pair of sneakers and your body. You will be amazed at the amount of effective exercise you can do without any fancy equipment.
Free Download: 5 Exercises to Target Your Whole Body
Bottom line, all the equipment and gym memberships in the world aren’t going to help you if you don’t use them. Break down those barriers and figure out what exactly you need to do and how to do it to achieve the results you desire.
I’m not athletic.
What does athleticism have anything to do with exercise? Ok, so you can’t run a marathon in under two hours, or your tennis swing leaves much to be desired, but who cares? Unless you are a professional athlete, where your performance is required for your livelihood, then athleticism has no impact on your exercise experience.
The end goal to get healthier is to move more and sit less. So, strap your sneakers on those two left feet of yours, get out there and move!
Unless I can do at least one hour, it’s not worth it.
Did you know that doing as little as 10 minutes of exercise can have benefits towards your health
(7-minute workout anyone?). Listen, the fact remains that ideally, you should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate activity in per week (that’s broken down to 30 minutes, five times per week or 50 minutes, three times per week, for example). But for those of us who are just getting started to flex those mental motivation muscles, or you are just plain unable to squeeze in 30-60 minutes of physical activity in, remember, anything is better than nothing. I repeat, ANYTHING is better than NOTHING.
A way to make up for your inability to get a solid 30+ minute workout in is to be as active as possible throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther away from the store entrance (while staying safe) and walk, take breaks to the restroom that is the furthest from your desk at the office. The point is to be as mobile as you can be throughout the day to enjoy at least some of the benefits of exercise.
Read: Super Tips to Become Less Sedentary
Did you know that exercise is cumulative?
Even if you are not able to get one solid 60-minute block of exercise in, you may be able to get in three 20-minute blocks of exercise in throughout the day. Take a look at your calendar and see what you can pencil in for yourself.
I have [insert medical condition], exercise is too risky for me.
Studies are coming out every day confirming all the wonderful things exercise can do to help manage (and sometimes even reverse) many chronic conditions.
Got diabetes? Consistent exercise can help control your blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity, and improves blood circulation.
Have heart disease? Exercise lowers blood pressure, is great for weight control, strengthens your muscles (which relieves stress from your heart) and reduces inflammation.
Plagued with arthritis? Exercise reduces pain and increases range of motion. Your joint repair genes are activated for cartilage regrowth, and strong muscles help support your joints and ease excess pressure.
Did I mention that exercise is also a great way to manage stress and improving your immune system?
Exercise isn’t fun.
Ok. You’ve tried, you really have. You went to Yoga Wednesdays at your community center, you moved forever in place on the elliptical at your gym. You even participated in a 5K fun run, and wondering when the fun was going to start.
Not every exercise fits every person, but there are a few exercises out there that are perfect for you if you just take the time to look and experiment.
Ok, great, but where do I start figuring out what’s fun?
Think back to your youth. What sports did you play? What activities did you love to take part in? Use those as the basis to figure out what you can do now as an adult.
Loved riding your bike around the neighborhood with your friends as a kid? Sign up for a cycling group. Were you an ace pitcher with your little league team? See if there is a community baseball/softball league you can join.
Think about things that you’ve always wanted to try: Salsa dancing? Great cardio. Are you the next American Ninja Warrior? There are many obstacle course-type races you can sign up for, at all levels (start with an easy one).
Think beyond traditional exercise when it comes to your physical health. You don’t have to like every kind of exercise that’s out there, but keep an open mind that there are a few that you might end up looking forward to participating in.
Your barrier towards consistent exercise is most likely just a mental block that you need to overcome. It's time to take a good look at why you’ve been hesitant to start exercising and know that there is a type of exercise out there for everyone. You deserve the effort to take a look and experiment until you find your perfect fit.
Want some help to steer you in the right direction? Sign up for a coaching session with me, a clinical exercise physiologist who’s been in this biz since 2004. We can discuss your goals, and I can create a plan to help you with your newfound exercise enthusiasm with a program that is developed just for you.
Twelve Weeks of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices of Cardiometabolic Health Similar to Traditional Endurance Training despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment J. B. Gillen et al: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154075
Exercise and diabetes: https://dtc.ucsf.edu/living-with-diabetes/activity-and-exercise/benefits-of-exercise/
7 Heart Benefits of exercise
How exercise helps your joints: http://blog.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise-benefits-for-joints/