Most common excuse for not exercising?
Survey says: “No time.” But examine that excuse at close range and you’ll see it’s usually about something deeper, says Lavinia Rodriguez, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of Mind Over Fat Matters: Conquering Psychological Barriers to Weight Management (iUniverse, 2008). “Typically, it’s lack of motivation, lack of enjoyment, negative associations, fear or maybe low self-esteem,” she says.
Busy as we may be, we have less trouble finding time for television, social networking or even dull household tasks, Rodriguez observes, because there simply aren’t the same steep psychological barriers to those activities.
If you want to exercise, you’ll make the time. We interviewed psychologists, exercise scientists, celebrity trainers, authors and busy everyday people to get a handle on the 6 most promising strategies.
1. MAKE A PLAN.
“The best way to make time for exercise is to have a written plan,” says Chris Evert, 18-time Grand Slam tennis champion. “Decide on the best time for exercise in your schedule and actually enter it into your computer or cell-phone calendar as a repeat event. This way it shows up daily and there’s less chance of you scheduling something during that time. Also, when you check your schedule in the morning, you’ll see it there and form a mental picture of when and how you’ll be exercising that day, which helps you stay motivated.”
2. FIND FIVE MINUTES.
Even if your day is packed with meetings and other commitments, you absolutely can eke out five minutes for yourself, says Simmons. And that simple act of self-care has the potential to change your life. “I tell people it’s OK to start very, very small.” A five-minute walk now can easily turn into daily 30-minute walks a few weeks from now. “You have to start somewhere,” he says.
3. BE AN ACTIVE WATCHER.
When you do watch TV, make the most of it. Do some ball-crunches, planks, yoga poses, squats, lunges or pushups while you’re watching. Keep fitness equipment, such as a kettlebell, resistance bands and a jump rope, near the TV. Or use the commercial breaks to mix in brief cardio intervals. Run in place or up and down the stairs; do some burpees or jumping jacks.
4. BE MOTIVATED BY MONEY.
Putting some money on the line may provide you with the motivation you need to show up for activity. Sign up for a yoga workshop, book some sessions with a personal trainer, or plunk down some cash for a race or other athletic event you’ll have to train for. Schedule a babysitter to watch the kids while you go for a run. Or take a few salsa lessons.
5. BRING THE FAMILY.
If family obligations prevent you from fitting in regularly scheduled workouts, rope your gang into other types of group activities. Schedule family hikes, soccer games, after-dinner walks, bike rides or family trips to the gym. Let the kids suggest family-activity options. And remember that exercise is something you’re doing for your family, says Pai. “When the kids see that exercise is important to Mommy and Daddy, it will be important to them, too.”
6. PHONE IT IN.
Have a conference call you can’t miss? Need to return a few phone calls to family and friends? Grab your cell phone (and, ideally, a headset) and get walking. Assuming your area has reliable reception, strive to walk whenever you’re on the phone. A note of caution, though: Talking and listening will tend to distract you from the fact you’re exercising. That can be a good thing, or a dangerous thing. So always take care to remain aware of your surroundings, traffic and so on. The goal is to squeeze exercise in wherever you can — safely.