Friday, June 12, 2009

No Excuse for Excuses...

If you're a consistent exerciser and never struggle with sticking to it, you can skip today's blog. But if you're like most people, and let work, the kids and other responsibilities get in the way, read for some tips on how to overcome these obstacles so you have the energy for work, kids and other responsibilities...

Not enough time: If you have trouble finding time to exercise, you’re not alone. A perceived lack of time is one of the most common excuses for not starting or for quitting an exercise program. But it really doesn’t wash. We have clients who manage large businesses, clients with 6-8 children and clients who seem to do it all. How do they do it? They make health and fitness a priority in their life. When life gets rough, exercise is usually the first thing to go when, in fact, it should be the last. Exercise is the glue to mental sanity when life becomes chaotic. Somehow, when others need you, your needs tend to end up on the back burner. Someone at work asks you to complete a project, your spouse needs your attention, the kids need some quality time, your friends are asking you why you haven’t called, and you’ve got a to-do list that extends well into the next 6 months. You can see how easy it is to convince yourself that the morning workout can wait until lunch and then until after dinner. Or maybe tomorrow and finally, “I’ll get back on track next month!” Commitments, responsibilities, and the demands of work, family and social life are always going to be there. When you allow yourself to put your own needs second to everything and everyone else, you’ll end up the loser. Research, in fact, shows that exercisers are more productive at whatever they’re doing. Translation: You’ll be able to do more when you’re in good shape. As for believing exercise is a huge time commitment, even 10-30 minutes a day, if done consistently, can result in health benefits. Here’s some tips to help you fit exercise in your day:

• Make an appointment with yourself, just as you would for your doctor or dentist or a meeting with your boss. That way, when someone asks if you can meet at 5, you can honestly say, “Sorry, I’ve got an appointment. How about at 4:00?”
• Stop putting it off! “I’ll start exercising right after New Year’s…in the spring…right after I’m finished with this huge project…once the kids get older…once the kids leave home…after I’ve retired…” Stop making excuses. Now’s the time to start because there will always be things competing for your time. You can choose to make exercise a priority in your life now or wait until you’re forced to make it a priority. We take our health for granted until we get sick. People who swear they don’t have a minute to exercise, then find themselves hospitalized for bypass surgery and out of commission for weeks, soon recognize that the extra time taken to exercise would haven been well worth it! The message is clear. Unless you take care of yourself now, one day you may find yourself unable to take care of your business, family or any of your other interests.

No energy: Those who exercise regularly know from experience that exercise actually leaves you with more energy!

Too old too exercise: No, you’re too old NOT to exercise! Every decade a 30 year old sedentary individual will suffer from a 10 percent decrease in muscle mass and aerobic capacity and a reduction in flexibility. Bone density deteriorates starting at age 35. By the time you’re 68, you’ll have experienced an 80 percent decrease in strength. By age 80, an individual will have lost half of their muscle mass. The good news is that if you exercise, these stats will improve dramatically. Even people as old as 90 have experienced the positive benefits of exercise, so it’s never too late to get started.

Hate exercise: In the beginning, exercise may feel like a chore but eventually it’ll become a need for both physical and mental health. It’s important to find activities you enjoy doing so that you’ll participate regularly, see the results and get hooked. Use music, try hiking or walking and add variety to your program to make it more fun. Exercise with friends. Studies show you tend to achieve better results that way because it’ll become more difficult to skip workouts plus you won’t get lonely during your workouts. There’s also no evidence to suggest that exercise needs to be painful. If it hurts that much, you may be doing too much, too soon.

Too out of shape to exercise:
One survey found the top reason why people choose not to join a gym is because they want to get into better shape or lose weight first. This backwards approach may never get you to your goals. Find a gym that’s not intimidating and where members seem comfortable going at their own pace and wearing whatever they want.

Gym scene isn’t your thing:
Sorry this won’t wash. There are literally hundreds of things you can do at home to get in shape. Your local book store will have books on designing your own program. Rent a fitness video. Hire a personal trainer to come to your house and design a program for you.

Health Woes: The health benefits of exercise always outweigh the risks. Certain conditions may make exercise more difficult but you can work around most problems. Consult with a professional who can design a program that addresses your specific concerns.

No or slow results:
One of the biggest hurdles new exercisers face is that the effort often doesn’t match the result. They’ve been exercising religiously for five weeks and jump up on the scale. Ugh, no change! They feel the program must not be working and give up. Unrealistic expectations can be a real downer. Instead of measuring your success by the scale, measure it by your energy levels. Monitor how many more repetitions you can do of a particular exercise. Keep track of how many more minutes you can do of a given activity. You may be making more progress than you think.

Yours in health and fitness,


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