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Busting barriers to exercise

What is the biggest barrier standing between you and exercise? Are you too busy? Too out of shape? Too discouraged by missed workouts?

These barriers can feel real and immovable. But by taking a step back and doing a little strategizing, you can find ways to break them down.

Busting the "I'm too busy" barrier

In a perfect world we'd all have 30 minutes to devote to fitness. But in the real world 24 hours doesn't seem like nearly enough time to fit in work, school, family, friends and exercise. Here's where a little planning can go a long way:

  • Look at your schedule for a week. Then find and pencil in small amounts of time to exercise. Even if it is five or 10 minutes at a time, it adds up. Also see if there is anything you can drop and replace with exercise.
  • As you look at your day, are there ways to weave in exercise? For example, if you bring your child to soccer, can you walk around the field during practice or a game? Can you do a walking meeting at work?
  • Learn from your past successes. Was there a time when you successfully built exercise into your routine? Determine what you needed to allow for this success and then try to follow that formula again. Was it the structure of a class? The accountability of having a workout buddy? Making time in your lunch hour?
  • Pair up your other needs with exercise. For example, reconnect with a friend by going for a walk. Spend time outdoors on a bike ride. Instead of "movie night" with your family, take a walk to the park.

Breaking down the "all or nothing" barrier

You may be prone to this "all or nothing" mindset if you hear yourself say things like, "I'm too old or out of shape to exercise," "I could go for a walk, but that's not really exercise," "I can't make my exercise class, so I will just go home," or "I blew my plan to walk at lunch, so I will wait until tomorrow." If this is your barrier, remember that some exercise is always better than none:

  • Even if you didn't stick to your original work out plan for the day, think about how you will feel if you make some progress towards your goal. If you planned to take a 30-minute run but couldn't fit it in, would it feel better to squeeze in two 10-minute walks or do nothing at all? Remember that any time you get physical activity, you are doing something good for yourself.
  • You don't need to do 30-minutes of exercise all at once. Science shows us that there is a benefit to exercising in small increments. So break up your workout into 10 minute sessions throughout the day.
  • You don't need to spend two hours at the gym every day. A recent study shows that regular activity throughout the day (think walking) has a bigger impact on your health than a 30-minute run. Getting up for two-minute walks every hour can have a positive and significant impact on blood glucose and inflammation.
  • It's ok to start off slow. You are better off starting an exercise routine too slow than two fast. Diving in too quickly can be frustrating, injury inducing and demotivating. Build an exercise routine that you want to do again and again.

The next time you find yourself making an excuse to not exercise, remember these tips, take a step back, strategize and get back on track.


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