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Breaking Through the Mental Barriers That Keep Us from Exercise

When it comes to exercise many of us get as far as mapping out an exercise plan but struggle with following through despite our best intentions to do so.

While there are many challenges in life such as a busy work week, sick child, or your car breaking down the biggest challenge we face is a mental barrier we place on ourselves. These can result in a loss of confidence and motivation… often causing us to give up before we have even started.

The Big 5 Excuses We Use….

“I don’t have time”

Ahhh the classic excuse of “I’m too busy and don’t have time to exercise!” The truth is that even the busiest person could find a small window of time during their day if this was something that was truly important to them. The key is to avoid putting so much pressure on yourself- it does not have to be an hour long session at the gym. Just a short 10-15 minute workout can be effective, and leave you feeling like you have accomplished something. And a feeling like this can nudge you towards making you more likely to do it again.

“I’m too tired”

You may genuinely be tired.  But you also know what the one thing that you’re avoiding is actually the one thing that could also help you feel better. Physical activity releases endorphins that make you feel happy, and is proven to boost your energy levels and reduce fatigue. The very best time to exercise? At the start of the day, before the demands of the day have taken too much of a toll.

“I hate exercising”

If I had a dollar for every time I have heard someone use this one… Well, you are certainly not alone. Hitting the gym, doing weights, and running on a treadmill isn’t for everyone, but don’t let this preconceived idea of exercising stop you from being active in a way that might be more your style.

The most important thing is that it’s a type of workout that you can enjoy (or at least not absolutely hate), that you could see yourself doing on a regular basis, and that your health will benefit from. Why not try swimming, a dance class or going for a bike ride. Even more simply,  just go for a walk- whether it be at a park, around the block, or at a shopping centre. Listen to some tunes while you do it, have a chat with a friend, find a great podcast/audiobook, or just enjoy the quiet away from everyone else.

“Exercise is painful”

Exercise should not be painful; you don’t need to push yourself till you fall into heap on the floor. In fact, if a workout has moved beyond a little discomfort to real pain you know that you have probably pushed yourself and your body too hard too fast. The key is to just be active in any way that works, and then slowly build up your fitness levels by doing low impact things like walking, swimming, shopping, cleaning the house or golf.

“I’ll start tomorrow”

I’m sure we are all guilty of using this one… Procrastination can put a real spanner in the works, and stop us from reaching our goals, as we never even start.  We often wait until we feel motivated, but the more demanding things are in our lives, the more we have on our to-do list, the less likely it is that a random moment of motivation will arrive just around the time you have a spare hour where you could exercise.

Instead, what studies have shown is that you need to get started before you feel motivated. Commit to just 5 minutes. Tell yourself that if you do something for 5 minutes and then really don’t feel like doing anymore, that’s ok. It’s certainly better than doing nothing at all! Nine times out of ten, you’ll find that you are fine to keep going longer than you thought you could.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

Get your new exercise habit to hang around by starting off small and building up momentum. This could be either the length of time, the intensity, or the frequency you exercise (or all of the above). Start by choosing activities that make you feel happy and that are enjoyable for you. You’re more likely to stick to it if it’s something you look forward to and this will also build your confidence.

Reward yourself after completing your exercise, a simple reward like watching your favorite TV show or a long hot bath will do the trick. Scheduling when you’re going to do your exercise is also a great way to ensure you follow through. Mark it in your diary like you would an important meeting or a doctors appointment. After all, your health is just as important!

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