I often worry about my patients who don't really like exercise, or who can't find the time to exercise. I believe that our bodies are made to move regularly, and everyone could benefit from some sort of exercise or movement. We live very sedentary lives compared to how humans lived even 100 years ago. Research shows that being sedentary has enormous health consequences. Here's a great little video on the physiological effects of too much sitting:
We hear the message that we need to exercise all the time, and most people know when they're not getting enough. But for many people, the barriers to exercise are too high to overcome: whether it's feeling there's not enough time, not wanting to spend money on a gym, physical limitations that prevent exercise, or just not liking it. If you recognize yourself in that list, read on for some ideas that might work for you.
Barrier 1: not enough time
This is probably the most frequent reason I hear for people not exercising. Here are a few ideas for you.
1. Take a 5 minute walk every hour that you're at work. Get up, move around, go up and down the stairs. Recent research shows that this is enough to reverse the negative effects of all that sitting. You will likely also work more efficiently when you get back from your walk and will feel revived and energized.
2. Try the 7 minute workout. This is a workout you can do at home, with no extra equipment except a chair or stool. It was designed by exercise scientists to find a quick workout that efficiently works each major muscle group. See: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/the-scientific-7-minute-workout/
If you get good at this, do it 2 or 3 times through! And yes, there's an app for that.
3. Another article on the NY Times website about the shortest workout necessary: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/01/well/move/how-to-do-the-shortest-workout-possible.html
Barrier 2: don't want to spend $
1. See above - both the ideas above are free.
2. Find a walking partner or two and commit to meeting somewhere and taking a 20-30 minute walk a few times per week.
3. Sign up for a local walk/run and train for that - other than investing in good shoes, this is very inexpensive!
4. Online yoga classes - there are free instructional videos available that take you through brief yoga workouts.
Barrier 3: physical limitations
If you have an injury or disability that is preventing exercise, you may need to stretch outside your comfort zone to find something that works for you. Some ideas:
1. Pool exercise: there are many different versions of this, check your local pools to see what classes are offered. And no, no one feels great about getting into a swimsuit when they're not feeling great about their physical condition, but I promise you won't be alone in feeling this way!
2. Work with a trainer: there are trainers who can design an exercise program for you.
3. Gentle yoga classes or pilates classes.
Barrier 4: "I don't like exercise!"
Remember that exercise doesn't have to come in the form of a gym workout!
1. Walking, walking, walking!
2. Find an activity you enjoy. Go to REI and see what kinds of classes they offer (hiking, snow-shoeing, etc.). Learn to play tennis. Learn to row! (www.lakeunioncrew.com). Try kayaking. Not up for outdoor exercise? What about dancing? Try a dance class with a friend (once I took tap lessons with 2 friends. It was hilarious and fun, and I was awful). Check your local community centers for interesting classes.
3. Finally, think again about simply adding movement to your life. Maybe it is simply getting up and walking around for 5 minutes for every hour that you work. No matter what, something is better than nothing!
I think the ultimate key here is mind set. If your assumption is that you simply don't like any exercise or that you just can't find the time for it, consider that you might not be right about that, and that a change in perspective could actually change your health and your life.