Updated: Mar 14
Oh how we do love a good excuse.
If I ask someone why they don't exercise the number one reason is invariably "I don't have time". Sometimes, depending on how brave I'm feeling, I challenge them.
"Do you watch TV?" I ask.
"Oh yes, love a good box-set me" they reply.
And there it is. They do have time. They have time for TV, so they have time to exercise. When I asked the question, their answer may, more honestly have been "I do have time to exercise but it's tough and boring, and I don't like going out in the cold, and I can't be bothered to get changed and go to the gym where I don't know what I'm doing and look stupid and to be honest I'm way too tired to move at the end of a long day... so I go for the lazy option, slump on the sofa and binge watch TV".
This might be a whole heap of excuses but at least we're being truthful with ourselves now.
It's really easy for trainers and proper fitness-enthusiasts to say "we all have time for exercise.. there's no excuse!" And I tend to agree. However the reasons in my example above are powerful ones. If exercise gives us more energy, makes us happier with ourselves (look, feel etc), makes us less tired and improves our quality of life, why do we essentially fib to ourselves ("I don't have time")? There are clearly real reasons at play.
First, let's cut to the chase and call out those excuses, then we can 'open the door' to working out how we're going to make less excuses and get more active.
I don't have time
You do. You just do. You watch TV, you do other leisure activities. And before you play the "I bet he doesn't have young children and a hectic life" card, I do, and I do. I get it, it's tough, but you still have time.
I'm too tired
Exercise will give you more energy and make you less tired. Maybe not initially but once you establish a routine and sort your nutrition (nothing heavy, just simple changes) you'll have more energy.
I can't afford it
Walking, running, cycling and home workouts are free. If you insist on exercising in a gym/group class setting and can't afford this then find another monthly expense which can make way. Exercise should be a priority (don't forget this is time for yourself too) and as such I'm confident there will be something in your expenditure that could free up those pennies.
I think this is the more reasonable excuse. People can and do find exercise boring and I won't suggest everyone should and will love it. However the skill is to find the particular activity/type of exercise that makes you tick. I don't like running, but I love the gym. I have friends who hate the gym but love group classes. It's personal and will play to your personality so take your time and at least try new ways to move as you're likely to come across something that works for you.
I lack motivation
This is also fair. However, motivation comes in different forms and you just need to work out what works for you. Exercise with a friend, set up short-term challenges, buy a fixed-length course, go to group classes and, importantly, make sure you know your own personality. Note - ultimate sales pitch opportunity.. TeamUp is built to motivate.
Ok - so having established that there really aren't any good excuses for not exercising 150 minutes per week (international recommendation for adults), we need to really know how to get past those pretend reasons and get started.
I'm not going to provide any advice on the first three points at this stage. I've offered good reasons why those excuses don't stand up and it's for you to find that time and make your move. I will endeavour to help more on those in other posts but for the moment I want to address the issues of "it's boring" and "I lack motivation".
I don't think we ever give our all to things we don't enjoy (find boring). I bet you'd work harder if you really loved your job. The skill here is to find that way to look forward to exercise, and to enjoy it. In the gym setting we work hard to make sure members actually want to visit.
For lots of people it can be tough to find a type of exercise they will enjoy doing. If you fall into this category I would also offer this; the benefits of regular exercise come quickly. After you've done a month (or less if you push yourself) you'll find it easier, because you'll be fitter. When you notice the difference and have also built confidence you're likely to enjoy it more.
I could talk about this for ages, and I will expand on certain points in separate posts over coming months but for now, let me summarise as follows.
The first stage in getting started with exercise is to be honest with yourself and accept that the reasons of "no time, no energy, no money" don't stand up. Not really.
The second step is to work out how your particular personality makes it difficult for you (are you motivated and disciplined or are you a bit of a Lazy Lisa?).
The third step is to then come up with a strategy. Steps that are likely to counter those specific problems and genuine reasons why it's tough to get started.
Stop making excuses, establish real reasons then draw up your battle plan.
You can do this. We all can.
A social fitness App start-up which motivates you to exercise more. Create teams with friends, family and workmates. Exercise where, when and how you like, log points and create your new, active lifestyle.