There a hundreds of reasons why we don’t exercise – just read the excellent comments on the post Why Don’t You Exercise.
Here are 10 different ideas or techniques to help you pursue a lifetime of health and fitness.
Before you Continue
If – deep-down – you really don’t want to exercise, then don’t bother reading further. You will need to get to the bottom of those feelings before moving on.
Ambivalence and double-mindedness will only lead to a constant cycle of disappointment.
But – if you want to reap the many mental and physical benefits of exercise — then read on.1. Know Thyself – Time of Day
What’s the point in aiming for fasted cardio (i.e. workouts before breakfast) when you are not a morning person? You might start with the best intentions – but it will probably not last. You must find the time that works best for you.
2. Know Thyself – Comfort Zone
When I exercise I sweat. Sometimes profusely. That may seem gross to some – and to be honest when I caught some people staring at my red sweating face – I was embarrassed. I’ve realized that public gym workouts are not always for me. I have a basic setup at home that I use instead. If going to the gym – aim for known quiet periods.
3. Boredom Busters
I feel bored just looking at the rows of poker-faced people sitting on their stationery bikes. I cannot do this. It bores me to tears. The personal trainer might prescribe 45 minutes of steady-state cardio – but it is most definitely not the only way.
Personal Trainers for the most part are enthusiastic and helpful people — but many seem to be stuck “in a box” when it comes to innovation. If you bore easily (like me) – then mix it up. The feeling of doing something new or different gets me interested again.
4. Structure and Planning
We have become a very time-poor people. Consequently if we want to accomplish anything we will need to plan it. Don’t say “I’m going to exercise this week”. Say “I’m going to exercise at 4.30pm on Wednesday for 30 minutes – and write it down.
It might sound a bit obsessive but every Sunday I plan my whole week – what I aim to do at work, when I will exercise, etc. Without a structure things turn to chaos and I end the week feeling out-of-control and frustrated.
5. Surround yourself with like-minded people
It’s tough enough to motivate yourself without having a bunch of couch potatoes pouring scorn on your intentions. Spend time with the right people (on-line or in the real world) and you’ll find the motivation starts to come.
6. Focus on the feeling after the session
There’s nothing better than blobbing out after a good exercise session. The feeling of satisfaction is something to be savored. Then there are the post-workout endorphins… and the good nights sleep…
7. Stop thinking: All or Nothing
“If I can’t do this workout properly – then there is no point in working out”. I used to think like this. Now I think that even a 5 minute walk is better than 5 minutes on the couch. Even 10 minutes of light weights is better than nothing.
This is especially important when exercising after a period of sickness. You feel like you took one step forward but fell 3 steps backward. Go easy on yourself. Don’t give up. Something is better than nothing.
8. What are your priorities?
When taking time to plan your week you will be forced to address priorities. If you are working 16 hours a day and (understandably) have no time for exercise – then you need to sit right back and take a long hard look at what you truly want out of life.
9. Remove the word “quit” from your mental vocabulary
Having goals is great. Lose x pounds of fat. Gain x pounds of muscle. Increased fitness. However there is something even deeper at play. If we lead sedentary lives then exercise simply must become a part of life. Period. Our bodies are made to be worked.
If I said to you “you must exercise for the rest of your life” — how does that make you feel? Examine the feeling. If it feels like a prison sentence then perhaps you need to do some serious rewiring of your inner monologue. Imagine feeling vital, strong, and energized – into your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s — wouldn’t that be a good feeling?
10. It’s not just about looks
The skinny girl down the street might look good to you — but her size is no indication of her health or strength. She may have unseen visceral fat or, sadly, could be inviting osteoporosis to come early.
Exercise is just as much about a healthy body as it is about looking good. My wife has reversed a number of health issues with the assistance of exercise. She is not model-thin – but rather – exudes strength and life. Having a strong and useful body often goes hand in hand with emotional self-empowerment.
This has been a long post. Good on you for bothering to read it! I encourage you to add your own ideas to the comments.