News in a hurry
How many times have you thought exercise is just plain boring? 'I just can't be bothered! I'd rather take the easy way out.' Take two minutes to look at this clip from Thefuntheory.com - it says it all, and offers a solution: find a way to make exercise fun!
Bottom of the 'to do' list?
When we know that physical activity is so good for us, why do so many of us keep bumping it down our ‘to do’ list?
SPARC (Sport and Recreation New Zealand) commissioned a survey of New Zealanders to discover what our key motivators and barriers are when it comes to exercise. The study found that key motivators include: awareness that physical activity is good for us, a desire to maintain a healthy weight, and desire for approval by others.
But the list of barriers made interesting reading, and contained an array of reasons for ‘putting it off’; we’re sure you can think of more (like boredom :-).
Common barriers to exercise
- lack of time
- other responsibilities (eg, family and job)
- lack of energy
- lack of encouragement or support from others
- lack of knowledge about facilities and opportunities to be active
- difficulty in sticking to a routine
- feelings of inadequacy (the ‘body beautiful’ image)
- fear of failure
- injury or disability
- no one to be physically active with
- too expensive
- no place safe to exercise – dog nuisance, heavy traffic, bad street lighting.
Tips to break through the barriers
Lack of time / other responsibilities
There are two easy ways you can fit in the 30 minutes of daily physical activity that the experts recommend:
Don’t worry about setting aside a separate time to exercise - incorporate those 30 minutes into your daily routine. Break the half an hour into 10-minute bursts – take a ‘snacktivity’ break. Studies have found that 3 x 10-minute exercise sessions can be just as effective as a full 30 minutes. Mums and dads can involve children by walking, swimming or playing together.
Diary your exercise - it's a great way to make it a legitimate part of your day.
Lack of energy
Many of us suffer from lethargy because we don’t exercise enough. Start gently and after only a few days you’ll begin to feel your energy levels rise.
Lack of support from others / no one to exercise with
If you can afford to, why not join a gym or exercise class? Your teacher will provide you with all the encouragement you need and also help you identify the right activities for you. A gym also provides a supportive work-out environment. Or, if you can't afford that, find a friend to exercise with, join a club or ask your partner or neighbour to walk with you. You'll be surprised how often the answer is 'yes'!
Lack of knowledge about facilities or opportunities
A quick surf of the internet directories or a flick through your local community newspaper should fill you in on the gyms, classes and community facilities in your area. For clubs, activities, walks and events in your area, contact your local Regional Sports Trust; 17 of these trusts exist across the country and you can find your nearest one on the SPARC website. You can also call 0800 ACTIVE (0800 22 84 83).
Your local council can also provide you with lists of parks and recreation areas, bush walks, and council run sports facilities. And the Department of Conservation (DOC) website lists 100s of walking opportunities on conservation land and other land throughout New Zealand.
Difficulty in sticking to a routine
This can be a struggle for everyone – even personal trainers don’t feel like working out some days. Try to set aside a regular time to exercise each day, or week, and be strict with yourself. Also try to arrange for a friend to join you as that will make it harder to skip sessions. Rewards are a another handy way of sticking to your routine – try not to make the reward food or alcohol!
Feelings of inadequacy
The sad fact is that many of us worry about ‘exposing’ our less than perfect bodies while exercising - but it’s regular physical activity that’s going to help us achieve the body shape we desire. Walk into any gym or exercise class and you will find an array of body sizes – there is no such shape as normal - and most people are too focused on their own routine or workout to notice yours.
Fear of failure
There are just a few key things to remember that will make you feel more positive about starting to exercise: any exercise at all is better than none; do something you enjoy – or can at least put up with – or you won't stick at it ; and don't start by doing too much, too soon – or you'll get fed up and stop, get injured or even make yourself ill.
Injury or disability
It’s well worth visiting your doctor to let him or her know you want to increase your physical activity. They will be able to advise you about what you can, and can’t, do and you might be surprised – some health problems or disabilities can benefit from regular movement.
Budget won't allow for expensive regimens
Don’t let cost be a barrier. You don’t have to go to a gym or wear designer gear. Running, jogging and playing with your kids in the park are only some of the free activities you can enjoy.
Winter is too cold, summer is too hot
The obvious answer to this is to choose your activity to suit the conditions; indoor sport or yoga or gym work for the cooler months (you can lift weights and skip rope in your garage or even in your living room), try swimming in the summer or choosing to exercise out of peak sunshine hours.