As summer sets in, the urge to get outside and move can overtake even the most exercise resistant among us. Just breathing the fresh air revitalizes us. But as the heat begins to take its toll, many of us find we need a bit more than fresh air to motivate us to move our bodies.
Likewise, when facing down winter, the thought of bundling up to get outside may challenge even the best of us.
Do any of these statements resonate with you?
- I’m too tired to exercise when I get home.
- Swim? You’ve got to be kidding. I’d have to do my hair all over again!
- It’s 90 degrees and humid. I can’t move in this heat!
- It’s darn cold outside. There’s no way I’m going out there.
- Exercise, schmexercise. I hate it no matter what it’s supposed to do for me.
- What are people are talking about when they say that physical activity makes them feel great?
- I hate gyms – they’re full of thong-clad women.
If you agree with more than a couple of these commonly-heard statements, your motivation motor may need to be jump started!
Consider these strategies from Green Mountain’s health spa and weight loss program fitness experts to help rev you. But remember, if you haven’t exercised for a while, be sure to get your health care providers’ approval, especially in any kind of extreme weather.
7 Strategies for Overcoming Exercise Obstacles
- Keep it fun. Spending precious free time doing something we enjoy – that’s easy. If you have a hard time finding fun physical activities, or are challenged in overcoming exercise fears, turn to games. Invite family and friends to join you on the basketball court, baseball field, tennis court. Even if you can’t play, you’ll get lots of exercise chasing the ball!
Tip: The fun of physical activity often gets lost because we focus too much on hitting target heart rates and burning calories. Read through to the last point for more on that.
- Schedule activity. Use a calendar to look at your week as a whole, then plan where you can realistically fit in physical activity. Because schedules can fluctuate greatly through the year, an appropriate exercise plan one week may not be feasible the next.
Tip: Break exercise bouts into smaller chunks of time if you don’t have larger blocks to devote to it!
- Mix it up. If boredom strikes, change where you do your exercise – take a resistance exercise tube to the park for some circuit training — walk five minutes, stop and do some biceps curls, walk five more minutes, stop and do triceps extensions, and so on. If you hate gyms, try outpatient cardiac rehabilitation facilities – they’re thong-free and often have a staff with a more medically-trained fitness background. Or change the type of exercise – aquasize vs. speed walking. Change when you do it – try two 15-minute walks instead of one 30-minute bike ride, or do interval training – alternating short bouts of high intensity with lower intensity activities.
Tip: Remember that the activities of daily living – washing your car by hand, shoveling snow, raking leaves, standing instead of sitting while chatting on the phone, walking to your co-worker’s office instead of calling, mowing your own lawn – can all add up to significant physical activity that’s not the ‘same ol’ stuff.’
- Be prepared. Don’t let a thunderstorm, hot, humid weather, rain or snow stop you. Make a list of indoor alternatives for outdoor activities. Try a workout on exercise balls – it’s great fun!
Tip: Build a library of fun exercise videos for unexpected snags, to help keep you moving no matter what’s going on outside. Try yoga, pilates, bellydancing, ballet, hip hop, and salsa videos as well as more standard aerobic offerings. Be sure to get beginner tapes when you’re a beginner!
- Buddy up. Partners make exercise so much more fun; you’re done before you know it!
Tip: Take turns motivating each other during low-energy, stressful or busy times.
- Get specific. Set short- and long-term goals. And remember the many ways to measure success. Some are personal and often have little to do with weight (yeah!), such as being able to climb a flight of stairs while breathing easily, running after your favorite kids in a fun chase across the lawn, sleeping better, feeling more cheerful.
Tip: Make a list of your successes and keep them handy to remind yourself how far you’ve come.
- Focus on how good physical activity makes you feel. Sometimes we become so focused on achieving healthier body weights, we neglect to notice how good movement makes us feel day-to-day. Reflect on how your energy has improved, your greater freedom of movement, the improvement of your relationship with your body. Once you realize that exercise is its own reward, you will be much more likely to keep it in your life.
Tip: Tuning in to the feeling that regular physical activity gives us is the best motivator there is. What could be more motivating (and fun) than feeling great?
Finally, remember that everyone goes through inactive times. These strategies can help keep those times to a minimum and shorten their duration. Revisit your success by keeping a fitness diary or file.
“You had exercise in your life before, and it’s possible to have it in your life now. Once active, always active!”