If you find yourself getting up in the morning with the intention of getting a workout in during the day, but never actually making to the gym – you’re not alone. Or, you might know that getting some exercise into your routine is important for your health, but the thought of going for a run or heading to the gym makes you shudder.
Figures released by Public Health England last year show that a huge 40% of adults failed to managed even one brisk 10-minute walk a month, while a study from across the pond shows that more than 80% of American adults don’t get the recommended amount of exercise. So if you find yourself struggling, whether it’s down to motivation, energy levels or just a genuine dislike of exercise, you can rest assured that you’re not the only one out there!
The truth is, the fact that so many people struggle to get themselves active isn’t just down to laziness – our mind is good at conjuring up excuses that can form a real barrier to making changes to our health. But by becoming aware of these damaging thought processes around exercise, we can train our minds to ignore them, ultimately boosting our health.
So, what are the most common excuses our minds come up with?
- ‘I just don’t like exercise’
This is probably one of the most common reasons I hear from people who are struggling to get a workout into their daily routine. If you feel like you really dislike exercise, it could be that you just haven’t found what works for you – exercise doesn’t always have to be a shift at the gym – it could be a brisk walk with the dog, yoga, swimming, playing a sport as part of a team… there are so many options out there!
By finding what you’re good at and what you enjoy, you can start to build up a tolerance to exercise – and as you find yourself improving and start seeing results, you might even find that you start to look forward to it. In fact, just blasting out some feel-good tunes and dancing around your living room, playing a game of ten-pin bowling or even washing your car all count as exercise; the aim is to get yourself moving and it doesn’t matter what you do – as long as you get your blood pumping and muscles moving, that’s what matters.
- ‘I’m too tired!’
Obviously, there could be cases where you’re genuinely fatigued (think anaemia, lack of vitamin B12, under-active thyroid, autoimmune conditions, diabetes etc), but for most people this isn’t the case. If you tell yourself you’ve had a long day and are too tired, eventually your brain will believe it – and you’ll struggle to find the energy to get some exercise in.
But actually, by working out and getting your blood pumping, you’re likely to feel a boost in your energy levels and your overall mood. Exercise has been proven as an effective way of increasing energy levels – so even if you don’t necessarily feel like doing it, it could benefit you in the long run!
- ‘I want to get slim/toned/fit before I join a gym’
Sadly, this is something I hear more and more often. With the number of fitness models on Facebook and Instagram increasing daily, it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore the (usually heavily-edited!) images they post of themselves in the gym which appear on our news feed.
The truth is, most gyms aren’t filled with people who are made up and dressed in skin-tight, revealing workout gear – they’re filled with normal people like you and I, who are just trying their best to stay healthy and active. There’s no denying that joining a gym can feel intimidating and overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time there or first time back in a while – but the truth is that most people there will only be focusing on themselves and their own workout, and not anybody else.
Don’t let Facebook and Instagram fool you – you don’t need to be slim / toned / ripped to join the gym, and actually, most people there won’t be. Ask me on any given day how many other people were in the gym when I was working out and I probably wouldn’t be able to answer – I’m too busy focusing on my own workout to notice what the people around me are doing! Join the gym whenever you feel ready, and with time you’ll see that it’s not as bad as you thought it would be!
- ‘I hate getting sweaty’
As I’ve already mentioned, not all exercise needs to be done at an intensity where you end up dripping in sweat – sometimes it could be taking the stairs instead of the lift or going for a walk around the block during your lunch break.
But if you do have a tendency to sweat and the gym is your preferred form of exercise, there are a couple of ways around this. When joining a gym, ask about their shower facilities – most places have showers nowadays that you could use. So, if you’re planning on exercising before heading to work, you’ll know that you can shower and head to the office feeling clean and fresh. If you prefer working out in the evening, why not go straight from work so that after you’ve worked out you can head home and jump in the shower?
If you try hard enough, you’ll always find an excuse for skipping the gym and staying on the sofa to binge on Netflix. But the fact is that exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your health, and so changing your thought process and breaking down the barriers your mind has created is essential and will benefit you in the long run.