Getting fit is one of the best things that you can do to improve your health and physique. The benefits of doing so are too plentiful to count, but a reduced risk of heart disease, reduced risk of metabolic diseases, improved sleep quality, improved mood, cognition, and reduced fatigue are a few of the best ones.
Considering how many positives there are to getting fit, and how many negatives are associated with a sedentary lifestyle, it seems odd that such a small percentage of people actually manage to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle long term. The purpose of this article is to identify five common hurdles to fitness, and give you advise on how to overcome them.
You’ve got to work 40 hours per week, then there’s 2 hours travelling there and back each day, you’ve got to cook dinner for the family, help the kids with their homework, walk the dog, and see your friends on Friday night. How can you possibly exercise too?
Solution: This is probably the most common excuse as to why people can’t exercise, and let’s be clear here, it’s a terrible excuse. How long does it take you to perform 10 bodyweight squats? 30 seconds? How long does it take to walk for 10 minutes each day? (trick question). The mistake that busy people make is that they think the gym is the only way to exercise. It’s not.
Also, if you’re being honest you’ll probably be able to point to a lot of spare time spent on Facebook, watching golf, sitting in a pub, or playing video games. The problem is that you haven’t prioritised exercise like you have these other pursuits. That’s completely understandable, we all need time to relax and have fun, but it does demonstrate that a lack of time isn’t really the problem here, it’s just that you would rather spend your time doing something else.
Set aside 1 hour per week dedicated to some form of exercise. Join a gym, play squash, go for a brisk walk, complete a bodyweight workout in your bedroom. Whatever you choose, make sure that you prioritise that hour, and schedule other activities around it, rather than moving it to fit in with your life, make your life fit your exercise.
Gym membership costs £25-50 a month on average, a new pair of running shoes is £80+, personal training costs on average £35 per hour. Right now, you’re just struggling to make rent. How can you possibly afford to be in shape?
Solution: Before doing anything else, you should take a look at your finances. What are you spending your money on? Even if you aren’t worried about your health, this is still a smart move. What you’ll probably find after analysing your bank statements is that you could easily find some extra money each month by cutting back on certain luxuries.
Did you know that in Britain the average amount of money spent per year on coffee is £2,210 ? That’s £184.16 every month! Swapping your daily coffee shop routine for home brewed coffee would help you afford a gym membership, two personal training sessions, and a brand-new pair of running shoes each month.
Don’t drink coffee? Well on average Britain spends £45.60 on alcohol each month, £90 per month on filling up the car, and you don’t even want to know how much a single cinema trip is setting you back! The point is that just like with hurdle #1, it’s not so much that you can’t afford to exercise, it’s that there are other things that you would prefer to spend money on.
However, it is possible to get fit without a penny to your name. Walk more, exercise at home, go for a kick about with your friends (make sure at least one can afford a football). Performing 100 bodyweight squats per day costs £0.00 and will massively improve your fitness.
You’d love to exercise, but you hurt your knee ten years ago and don’t want to make it worse. Or you broke your arm when you were 19 and it has never felt the same afterwards.
Solution: Firstly, if your injury was serious enough to impact your life and potentially your future health then please see a doctor. They can refer you to a physio, who will help you to overcome this hurdle. Secondly, if you hurt your shoulder, then what’s stopping you from walking? Or running? If you hurt your knee, then why can’t you perform a bicep curl? There’s an exercise that for you, don’t believe us? Check out the Paralympic games and revaluate your excuse.
“I just don’t want to exercise”. You’ve got to respect that honesty, if nothing else.
Solution: A lack of motivation is usually the issue that is behind all other excuses, the simple truth is that most people dislike exercise and would prefer to avoid it. The solution to this is simple but not easy. Find a form of exercise that you like, doesn’t matter what it is. Walking, swimming, lifting weights, playing hockey, and concentrate on that.
Secondly, find an event in your future that you would like to look good for, or a sporting event (marathon?) that you would like to compete in. Find some extrinsic motivation that propels you forward. Don’t expect to find motivation from the love of exercise, find it from the love of getting results. Or for the social aspect – which brings us to our final hurdle.
“I don’t want to join a gym because I want an active social life” is a common excuse, you barely get to see your friends and family as it is. Swapping the pub for the weights room doesn’t sound like a good idea, nor does ditching the cinema for an outdoor bootcamp in February.
Solution: Change your mindset, the gym is a social place. You see the same people in there week in, week out for years on end. Make friends with them. Bring your friends with you, bring your partner with you, join group classes and make new friends.
Learning how to change your behaviour (or your client’s behaviour if you are a personal trainer) is essential if you want long term fitness results.