Did you know that it is well documented that for every mile you jog, you add one minute to your life? This enables you at 95 years old to spend an additional five months in a nursing home at $5,000 per month. Yipee! No wonder most people would rather change cat litter, clean the toilet or defrost a freezer than to work out.
There are millions of excuses not to exercise, but none of them are valid. The benefits of doing so regularly are long term and essential to a good quality of life. In a poll conducted by The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport, the respondents rated their excuses as follows: 40 percent said they didn’t have enough time; 20 percent said they get enough exercise at work or at home; 15 percent said they couldn’t exercise because of health problems; 12 percent said exercise is boring; 10 percent said they are too old; 9 percent said exercise is not necessary; and 7 percent said they are too tired.
Do these sound familiar? Let’s get a reality check on the top excuses:
n Not enough time: Unless your life is jammed with “real” activities from the time you get up to the time you go to bed, this excuse does not hold water. If you don’t believe me, surf the net and find a personal time survey to complete. A time survey lets you plug in time for eating, sleep, work, travel, chores and errands, and social life, as well as regularly scheduled functions and events. Once you put those numbers in the formula you can see just how much time you do have to exercise, provided you skip the multiple hours of TV and computer time. Check out www.gmu.edu/gmu/personal/time.html and try it yourself. You will be surprised.
n I get enough exercise at work or home: There is a big difference between physical activity and exercise. Just because your job requires a lot of walking, standing or lifting does not mean you are getting enough exercise. If your work puts you in your target heart rate training zone for at least 20 minutes of continuous exercise five times per week, then sure, you are getting enough exercise at work. Most likely however, unless you are a bicycle courier or an on-foot mailman, you still need to add some exercise into your routine.
n I can’t exercise because I have health problems: In that case it is up to your physician to decide, however, many conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and even arthritis can be improved with exercise. Just don’t assume you cannot exercise.
n Exercise is boring: Lame, lame, lame. On occasion even the sermon at church on Sunday can be boring, but you don’t skip church. Find an activity that you enjoy doing, vary your routine or find a partner.
n I am too old to exercise: Even if you think you’re too old, you’re not. My philosophy is to do the things we like until we cannot physically do them anymore. Exercise is an ageless activity. It can actually slow the aging process and let you live a longer, more productive life. In addition, research has shown improvements in strength and cardiovascular fitness in people exercising into their 80s and 90s.
n Exercise isn’t necessary: Imagine if you said the same thing about changing the oil in your car? Without oil changes, your car would eventually not function. Your body is the same way. If you do not take care of it you will have a breakdown in the form of heart disease, diabetes, obesity or even cancer.
n I am too tired: Fatigue can actually be caused by being sedentary. Exercise, even when performed when you feel tired, will actually increase your energy and make it easier to get a good night’s sleep.
Excuses provide an easy way to avoid exercising but to what end? By not working out, you are adding stress and pounds that in the long run are going to make you feel worse. Sweating is a good thing and it will make you feel better, I promise. The next time you start making excuses not to exercise, try this little visualization exercise: Imagine me coming to your house at 5 a.m. dragging you out of bed and subjecting you to 75 minutes of P90X training. I am sure that will make you much more likely to find a time of your choosing and get your workout done.
Kathy Hansen has over 20 years of experience in the health and fitness field and has vowed to stop excusing herself out of exercise anymore. She can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com