According to the government, only 24% of women and 37% of men take enough exercise to get any benefit from it. There are so many reasons why the rest of the population don’t:
‘I just don’t have time for exercise,’ is one of the main excuses Exercise Professionals hear regularly. Others range from ‘not having the money, to being a parent, to being too old, unfit or just ‘not being built for exercise’. The best one I’ve heard is: ‘My Therapist told me not to do anything active before midday.’ And this person wondered why she felt sluggish, over weight and grumpy (not surprising if she paid for advice like that!)
If we’re honest, yes it’s often hard to find the time to exercise. There’s always the juggling act between busy lives, work, family, friends and the increasing challenge of actually getting from place to place. Plus, if you consider our unpredictable weather, economic climate and stress involved in our daily existence, there are numerous barriers to doing any exercise at all, let alone anything of real benefit.
How many of us use the weather as a real excuse for staying indoors to watch TV or surf the net whilst reaching for a drink or snack? In the UK, this means that we can use our changeable climate as a pretty good, regular excuse for avoiding leading a healthy and active lifestyle.
So, what’s the solution? The answer generally lies within ourselves. We can’t stop the rain, nobody can magic more time out of the day and most of us can’t see a sudden upturn in the economy, but we can change the way we tackle the situation we find ourselves in. Applying a positive approach to exercise can help us realise that the only person stopping us from doing it is ourselves. If we accept that, then we can start to make some changes and progress. It’s all down to how much we want it.
As a Fitness Professional, yes, I can tell you to turn up to a Fitness Session, I can motivate you to do your best whilst you’re there, and I can find fun ways to help you achieve your goals, but I can’t do the session for you. I can’t change how and where you live, what you do for a living or where, but I can give you ideas about how you can build exercise into your day and how good you will feel as a result. I can’t stop you turning on the TV, sitting at the Lap Top or filling your fridge with snacks, but I can tell you that anyone can make a choice about whether to turn it on, grab it and or put it in their mouths! That choice is yours. Exercise can be done in the smallest of spaces without any equipment. All you need is some knowledge, creativity, determination and self-discipline. So, yes we can all find the excuses, but equally, we can all make a choice:
We can change our mindset. We can look for the opportunities and we can get back in control of our situation, make the time and commit to a challenge.
If we have children, can we take them on a power walk or jog with us? Or may be they could cycle alongside? If they’re younger, think of the workout of pushing a toddler in a buggy, think of the workout if you have two, better still if you live near hills! Think of the experience you’d be giving your kids. Think of the example you’d be setting them from an early age. Think of the bonding experience of surviving the elements and the seasons, all the things you see, hear and witness en route.
We don’t need to join a gym: It costs nothing to go for a walk or a run (just a pair of trainers, some kit and an imagination). It costs nothing to use our own (or a friend’s) body weight to exercise at home or in the park. It isn’t that expensive to buy a bike, especially if its second hand. Set yourself a goal. Start small and realistic, and gradually increase what you do and when.
Consider walking, cycling or running to and from work, to and from the shops, to and from the School, the station, the bus stop or even the pub! Park the car away from home, away from the office, away from the School and walk. Get off one destination earlier, and walk or run the rest. Ask your workplace to install changing facilities or seek some out nearby. Is there a Leisure Centre, a local Club, another office facility, even a Service Station you could use? All you really need is some water and a towel! Spare clothes and small wash kit can be carried in a rucksack: Get used to not looking perfect. Get used to improvising. Look for others to join you. Many Councils are backing running and walking Clubs. Simply ask them what’s on offer and join in. Use networking sites to find others who may want to share your active lifestyle. Get active on Running4women!
Yes it takes a little bit of extra planning, yes, it may mean getting up slightly earlier, or getting home slightly later, but it can be done.
Remember, exercise can take place in the smallest of spaces, and skin is waterproof: As long as you can dry off quickly afterwards, then you can exercise in all weathers. Look at it as a challenge. Enjoy the Seasons, the conditions and the variety. At least no two outdoor sessions are ever the same, so boredom is not an option. In the UK, weather and its variety is the spice of life. Make exercise part of yours.
Annie Jack is a Personal Trainer, Sports Massage Therapist and British Military Fitness Instructor. Annie makes numerous people feel good through exercise.