Exercise: there’s nothing quite like it. Many people know they should be exercising more, but there always seems to be a reason not to. Life does have a way of interrupting our routines and it can take some extra work to get back on track.
The impact of exercise on lifestyle-related disorders such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, insomnia, and metabolic syndrome is massive and exercise is often considered one of the first-line therapies. If you have been diagnosed with any of these, consider exercise as important as your other treatments or medications. If you’ve never exercised before, it’s best to start out slow and get your body used to the extra strain placed on both the muscular system and the cardiovascular system.
When I make exercise plans for people, I am always listening to what is realistic for them. No two exercise plans are ever the same, same as all of my treatments.
Here’s the top 5 excuses I hear and why they don’t work:
1. I have kids: Excellent! Take them to the park more often. The trick here is to not sit and watch them, but to get climbing up where they go. Play tag, soccer, or frisbee. Getting the kids to help you be active not only gets you into great shape, it provides a great role model for your kids to lead healthy, active lifestyles.
2. I'm tired: This is a tricky one. Exercise most definitely helps fatigue, but getting over that hump to put the trainers on can be difficult. If the fatigue is severe, see a healthcare practitioner as there may be something medically relevant. If the fatigue is more mental than physical, this should subside shortly into beginning your workout. Always start out with a warm-up and take an easy walk on days that you’re just not feeling it. My personal mantra on “zombie days”: the first step out the door is the hardest, after that it’s endorphin-high all the way.
3. I have no time: There’s always time to fit exercise in. Always. Take the stairs instead of elevator, go for a walk on your lunch hour, park farther away from your work or the mall entrance, bike to work a few days per week if possible, use your grocery bags as weights, and walk for the first or last subway stop rather than sitting all the way (on average, one TTC subway stop is 10-15 minutes of brisk walking). Try for one full workout on the weekends.
4. I'm in pain: If you suffer from chronic pain, a visit to a healthcare professional is a good idea to correct the problem. Many people suffer from osteoarthritis, particularly in the knees, which may affect your ability to participate in activities such as running, walking, stairs, etc. Low impact cardio exercise can be done in the pool, or hope on a bike (stationary or not) or elliptical machine. Yoga and pilates improve strength and flexibility, and may help to improve pain symptoms. Regardless, a healthcare professional will be able to assess and provide treatment options for pain and injury management and recommend an appropriate exercise for you.
5. I have no equipment: Use your neighborhood as your gym. Walking or jogging can be done anywhere, and is best done in a local park solely for ambiance. Splice in some strengthening moves such as lunges, squats, pushups, and crunches. Local playground equipment can be used for pull-ups, steps, and hanging abdominal crunches. If you prefer to exercise at home, cardio can be done using stairs or workout videos. Weights are an inexpensive investment, or alternatively soup cans, books, or water bottles will do in a pinch. Yoga and pilates only require a comfy floor.
Many people simply need someone to be accountable to. If that’s the case, buddy up with someone with similar goals, get a personal trainer, or mention your goals to your ND. Now, get out there!