With our busy lives, exercise often lands at the bottom of the priority list, even though we know it is something we should do. Here are the most common reasons why people don’t exercise and some tips on how to get a fresh start on your exercise plan in the new year.
- I don’t have time. If you’re crunched for time, try these tricks for building activity into your daily routine: Park a little farther away when shopping or running errands. Climb stairs instead of taking an escalator or elevator. Go for a 10-minute walking break during work. Head outside and play catch, Frisbee, or tag with the kids. By working a few 10-minute activity blocks into your day, you can build up to the recommended goal of 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week.
- I think exercise is really boring. If the thought of lifting weights or walking on a treadmill makes your eyes glaze over, don’t despair. Some ideas for making exercise fun include dancing, swimming, gardening, playing tennis, bicycling, doing yardwork, bowling, hiking, kayaking or canoeing, yoga, Pilates, tai chi, and stair climbing. To keep boredom at bay, make sure you do a mix of activities each week.
- I am just not motivated. Ask a friend or family member to exercise with you so that it becomes a social activity, and set a regular date and time for it. Using a smartphone app, pedometer, or gadget to track your activity can help you see if you are meeting specific goals you set, and some nudge you to keep at it. Some people find it motivating to participate in exercise challenges or competitions with co-workers or friends. And if those don’t work, try a blatant bribe: Decide that if you meet your goal each week, you get a reward such as a book, a movie, music, or a new item of clothing.
- I haven’t exercised in a long time. Ask your healthcare provider for guidance about exercising. Start with a few minutes each day of an activity you enjoy (see #2 above), and gradually add on more time.
- I can’t afford a gym membership. You don’t need fancy equipment to exercise. If you like having structured exercise, there are many free online exercise videos and classes. Some yoga studios offer free or reduced price community classes. You can also check out the YMCA or local community center, start your own fitness group with friends or neighbors, or try running or walking or other exercise that doesn’t require equipment.
- I have a bad knee, wrist, foot, back, or other painful body part. There are many activities that don’t put stress on joints or injured body parts, such as swimming, water aerobics, walking, bicycling, yoga, and Pilates. If you are not sure, ask your doctor or a physical therapist for specific suggestions.
- I tried exercising and couldn’t stick with it. Think about why it didn’t work before. What can you learn from that experience and do differently this time? Make a list of benefits you might enjoy from being physical active, like more energy, better sleep, smaller waistline, or feeling better about yourself.