Barriers to Exercise: Time & Engery

(Originally posted on bcotoronto.com on Sept 20th, 2012)

BtE - Time & EnergyThe most common complaints about fitting exercise into our lives are not enough time and energy. Our busy schedules just can’t squeeze in a workout and work or school just drains us completely. Well I’m here to let you know that it is possible to squeeze in a little bit here and there and really that is the most important step. Getting started on the path to exercise is difficult but build up the habit and you are off to the races.

Time
Finding the time to put in a workout is the first hurdle that many of us face. Where can I find 20-30 minutes my doctor says I need to exercise? The simple answer is that we may not be able to. But that doesn’t mean we have to give up. Try finding 5 minutes, or even 2 minutes, in your day and fill that with exercise. Something simple during the quiet periods of our days will add up fairly quickly and may not be the 20 minutes of sustained exercise we were told to get but it’s a lot better than nothing.

Exercise also has a nasty little habit of starting out as a chore but ending up as something we crave. Start small and the little sessions throughout the day will naturally grow of their own accord. So let’s think about where those 5 minutes might be hiding throughout your day. They might be while you’re waiting for the bus or stuck in traffic. They could be waiting in line at the coffee shop or waiting for your toast to finish. Anytime there is a quiet moment you can do a few little exercises. You may scoff at the idea and think you’re going to look like an idiot running around the bus stop but I’m not talking about doing high steps or burpees while in a starbucks. I mean put down your bag and do some small heel lifts or shoulder rolling while in public and when you are at home or your desk do some squats or lunges. This may not be the heart pumping exercise the doctor ordered but it will get you moving and create a habit of exercise that will make it easier to transition to the harder stuff.

Exercise can also fit into your life with a few easy changes to regular activities. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, or getting off the bus or parking a couple of blocks away from work and walking the rest of the way, or even taking time to run around with your kids. These will all get you moving, get your heart pumping, get you ready to take on bigger challenges.

Energy
Getting the energy to exercise can be hard, especially if you haven’t done it in a long time. Your brain may know all the benefits of exercise but your body is probably saying, “Just hit snooze one more time.” This is a significant hurdle for most people to overcome so here are a few tips on how to get over this.

Like finding the time to exercise, it is much easier when you start slow with something easy and work your way up from there. So even if you hit snooze until you have to leap out of bed and run to work. Take 30 seconds and do three push-ups. If you do something small like this every morning for three weeks it will become a habit and you will find that it will be easier to get up and do it in the mornings or even when you get home in the evening.

Drinking a glass of water before starting your exercises is a good idea. Hydration wakes up the body and gets the blood pumping. This boost in energy will help you get through your exercises. Make sure it’s not too big a glass when you’re going to work hard. A full stomach is not a great with vigorous exercise.

The last tip I have for you is to start your new routine on a weekend when you have no plans. This way you have the time you want and you can wait until you have the energy to try your new exercises and the time to recover when you discover your limit.

I hope these pointers help you find the motivation to start exercising. If I can emphasize just one of these it would be to start slow. No one is going to be a professional body builder on their first time. Pace yourself and grow at your speed, no one else’s.

Happy workout, good luck, and as always, thanks for reading.
Dr. Ben

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