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We’ve all been there. When you set out to exercise regularly, your mind comes up with a slew of excuses. I’m tired. It’s cold outside. I don’t want to spend money on a class.
These mental blocks may explain why it’s so hard to keep a New Year’s resolution for More than four months. How can you cut through these?
The first step, experts say, is to stop thinking of them as “excuses.”
If you use that word, it can make you feel like a failure and a failure about your willpower. Self-criticism and shame have been shown to be harmful. Can you actually?Stop you Meeting your goals, said Katy Milkman, a behavioral scientist at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of “How to Change.”
Instead, reframe the reasons you aren’t exercising as genuine obstacles and devise a plan to overcome them, Dr. Milkman said. “Most of us don’t just need a goal,” she said, but specific steps and strategies to follow.
I asked experts in exercise psychology and exercise science to share their best tips for overcoming common reasons people struggle with building an exercise habit. Here are some of their tried-and-true solutions.
I am pressed for time.
Kate Baird, exercise physiologist and a Hospital for Special Surgery New York employee, suggests that you start small. Instead of carving 30 to 60 minutes out several times a weeks, plan several Short bursts Of Movement“Throughout the day.” “If you’re not able to do much, doing What are you waiting for? is going to be helpful in so many ways,” she said.
You can do squats in between meetings or sneak a few laps of the block at lunch. Ideal is to have these bursts last for at least 30 seconds. Add up toThe recommended 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise and 30-to-60 minutes of full-body activity Strength training per week.
You could also multitask. Try walking, or using a band of resistance while on a call or watching television. (Several of the experts that I spoke to were walking as they were being interviewed.
If you want a dedicated workout time, Ms. Baird suggested taking a good look at your schedule and asking yourself if there is anything you can give up or trade for some movement. Could you set your alarm 30 min earlier?
I feel self-conscious.
If the idea of working out in public makes you feel uncomfortable crawl into a holeKelly Roberts, running coach and fitness influencer from New York City, said that you should be aware of your options. “The gym is a really intimidating space,” even for experienced exercisers, she said.
Exercise at home could be the solution for some people. Ms. Roberts suggested that some people take a few simple steps to overcome feelings of self-consciousness.
First, remind yourself why you’re there, whether it’s to feel stronger or to train for a race. Reconnecting to your goal will help you stay strong, she said. Second, designate a friend or family member who you can text in the moment, who can support you when you’re feeling vulnerable.
Third, try another gym, class, or group. If a space makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin, it’s OK to leave, Ms. Roberts said. “Some spaces are more welcoming than others.”
In the past few years, fitness has become more accessible to people who, in the past, may have felt excluded from gyms due to their race, gender, or body size. Running clubs that include all pacesGyms or fitness centers marketed towards L.G.B.T.Q. communities.
I don’t want to spend money.
You can learn more about it here. don’t need a fancy gymGrayson Wickham, physical therapist at New York City, advised people to get in shape. “There’s so much you can do just with body weight,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing.” Planks, push-ups, lunges, squats and PointersRegular stretching can cultivate flexibility.
You can spend a few dollars on a treadmill or jump jacks to get an aerobic workout. Jump rope. If you have access to a safe outdoor space, you can walk, run or strength-train outside, Dr. Wickham said — and get the added benefit of Spending time in nature. Download our free guide to get expert advice. Workout App.
It’s too cold — or hot.
A shift in temperature doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Dr. Edward Phillips is an associate Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. He says that the change in weather can be an opportunity to do something new or add variety to your daily routine.
“Maybe in the middle of the Winter it’s a good time to bolster your strength training and work on your CoreOr finally engage in a PilatesGet your teeth into a class You can also find out more about the following:,” he said. Or embrace the climate and try snowshoeing. Consider trading your run in the summer Swimmers.
“The idea is not to necessarily say, ‘But I’ve committed to running three miles a day, six days a week, forever,’” he added.
That said, as long as it’s safe to exercise outside and you Dress for the weatherSometimes working out in less-than-ideal temperatures can cultivate mental and emotional strength, Dr. Wickham noted: “You’re getting even more mental challenge on top of your workout, and that’s just going to make you better and more well prepared at anything you’re doing in life.”
I don’t have the space.
If you have space for a mat, then you have enough room to get a great work out. Dr. Phillips stated. “You can get stronger and in better shape and more flexible” in just a few square feet, he said, as long as you can comfortably move your arms and legs without bumping into a wall or furniture.
He said that if exercising in close quarters makes you feel claustrophobic then consider turning an outdoor space into your gym.
I’m in pain.
It might seem counterintuitive, but for those who struggle with forms of chronic muscle or joint discomfort — like low back pain, neck pain or pain from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis — physical activity will likely Help to make it betterDr. Phillips said.
“Chronic pain is awful, but for many people, being inactive is adding to that pain,” he said. While exercise may not alleviate all pain, it can help people complete daily activities with greater ease — and expand what they’re able to do comfortably from, say, walking to the mailbox to going for a stroll on the beach or playing catch with a child.
“If you do more, you can then do more,” Dr. Phillips said. “It’s not a cure, it’s a management.” And often, as you become stronger and more fit, the threshold for what causes pain goes up.
If you have chronic pain, or any type of chronic pain, and you want to be more physically active, speak to a doctor who is an expert in the field of exercise science. They can guide you to the safest and effective movements for your condition.
I’m exhausted all the time.
When even the word “exercise” makes you feel tired, experts recommend meeting your body where it is — in a few different ways.
“I think the first practical way to approach this is to ask yourself, are you working out at the best time of day, or best time of the week, for your energy?” Ms. Baird said. If you are more energetic in the mornings and feel tired in the late afternoons, try to work out in the morning. Working out early in the morning.
Kelly McGonigal recommends starting with a mini exercise designed to help you get started. Boost your mood. Exercising for the length of “one song is great, because a song will change your mood,” she said. “Do something that reminds you that it feels good to move.”
Remember that exercise doesn’t have to be intense for it to “count,” experts say. Stretching, yoga or Pilates, walking, jogging or jogging in a conversational pace, are all good options. Do what you can to make sure that You are getting enough rest.
I just don’t like it.
If you’re still searching for a way to move that you like, Keep looking. “Exercise” doesn’t have to mean going to the gym — it can be as simple as dancing alone in your living room, playing PickleballOr chasing You can look after your grandchildren or childrenDr. McGonigal explained. Moving in any way you find enjoyable is the key.
Research has shown that when we eat a lot of food, our bodies produce more insulin. prioritize fun in movement, we’re more likely to stick with it over time, Dr. Milkman said.
In the meantime, if you need an immediate incentive to move, try a trick Dr. Milkman came up with called “Offers for temptation,” in which you save a riveting audiobook, podcast or TV show to enjoy while exercising — and only while exercising. Her research suggestsYou may want to come back for more.
I’m afraid of hurting myself.
Dr. Phillips said that exercise carries risks, but the benefits outweigh them. On the flip side, “if you remain sedentary, your risk of deleterious health effects is 100 percent.”
If you’re new to exercise, recovering from an injury or haven’t been active in a long timeDr. Tamanna Singh of the Sports Cardiology Center at Cleveland Clinic cautioned, “Start slowly.” To avoid injury, it is best to make gradual progress and not to take on too many things too soon. “Build confidence, and use that confidence as a motivator to continue exercising in the long term,” she said.
Check in with an expert in sports medicine for extra peace of mind. They can give you advice on the safest, most effective way to exercise your body.