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Step 10: Overcoming roadblocks

Exercise must be a priority. But how do you fit working out into your already jammed schedule? With some careful planning, almost everyone has time to fit in some amount of exercise as part of their regular routine.

Keep track of how you spend your time on several typical days -- during the week and on the weekend. Then, think carefully about what you currently do with your time, and how you might fit in exercise. Try getting up earlier, going out after work, skipping television, or exercising during the day in ten-minute chunks. Think it's too boring? Invite a friend to go with you or watch a movie while you use the treadmill.

Here are some of the most common reasons for not exercising and alternative ways to think about them:

"I don't have time."Almost everyone has some time they can devote to exercise, even in the busiest of schedules. Get creative and find ways to be more active throughout the day.
"I'm too tired."Exercise will give you more energy, not less. You may be surprised at how much more energy you have when you exercise.
"It's boring."There are lots of ways to make exercise more fun. For tips, click here.
"I'm not good at sports."You can do lots of activities without competing against others. Try walking with a friend, shopping, or ice-skating. Just go out there and have fun!
"It's too hot or cold outside."If you dress appropriately, the weather should not affect your ability to exercise. For more on how to dress, click here.
"It's too hard."Everyone has different abilities when it comes to physical activity. Do what feels right to you, and slow down if it feels too hard.
"I'm not fat."The benefits of exercise go way beyond weight control -- EVERYONE needs exercise to be healthy.

Be creative

Deciding to exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself. But deciding must lead to doing, and this is where many people stumble. Fortunately, you can easily integrate exercise into your life if you are a little creative:

  • Break it up -- You get the most benefit from exercise if you do it for at least 60 minutes a day for 5 - 6 days a week. But you do not have to do 60 minutes in a row. Studies suggest that you get the same benefits if you work out for 20 minutes 3 times a day as you do during a longer session.
  • Do what you like -- Any activity that raises your heart rate counts as exercise. If you don't enjoy traditional sports, then wash your car, go dancing, mow the lawn, or any of hundreds of other things.
  • Some exercise is better than none -- True, everyone should work out at least three times a week, but you will still benefit from less frequent or less intense exercise.
  • Mix it up -- You do not have to do the same exercises day after day. In fact, most fitness professionals recommend varying your activities so you can work different parts of your body. This can help you avoid injury and keeps your exercise program fresh.
  • Be a free agent -- While health clubs offer a variety of equipment, weights, and classes, none of that is necessary. Thousands of people exercise every day with no more than a solid pair of sneakers. Some people prefer the fitness center environment, but you do not need a gym to get fit.

Plan on making physical activity a part of your everyday life. Do things you enjoy. Go for brisk walks. Ride a bike. Dance. Work around the house and in the yard. Trim your hedges without a power tool. Rake leaves. Climb stairs!

- From Feeling Fit For Life, National Institutes of Health


Review Date: 6/28/2011
Reviewed By: Jeffrey Heit, MD, Internist with special emphasis on preventive health, fitness and nutrition, Philadelphia VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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