8 Big Excuses That Kill Your Motivation to Exercise
These easy 10-minute tips will help you overcome them
(This article previously appeared on Grandparents.com.)
Let’s face it: We all want to look good and be healthy, but none of us want to exercise. “It’s too much work,” “It’s hard,” “I don’t have time,” the list goes on and on.
But here’s the bottom line: “The secret to slowing the aging process is to move,” says celebrity trainer Sean Foy, author of the new The Burst! Workout: The Power of 10-Minute Interval Training. To get yourself to move, you need to figure out and address what’s keeping you from starting.
(MORE: 10 Tips to Fool Yourself Into Getting Fit)
Foy works with his clients to write out what he calls a “Fit Card.” On one side of an index card, he instructs them to list the benefits to be gained from being healthy and fit (walk farther, breathe easier, improved circulation and so on). On the other side, they list the barriers that keep them from exercising (no time, too expensive) and the effects of not exercising (no energy, depressed, etc.).
Doing this helps his clients change behavior, because they are then able to see for themselves the benefits versus the cost. “You’re wrestling with apathy and motivation,” he says. “How do I get rid of one to gain the other?” Once you have the card, he instructs clients to read it daily. “Don’t worry about anything else. Just read the card. You don’t even have to attempt any exercise. In time, you’ll see your attitude shift and those barriers begin to lift,” he says.
If you’re not sure which barriers might be holding you back, here is a list of the eight most common ones, and how you can address them — most in under 10 minutes.
1. "I don't have time."
Everyone has time. Break yours into one-minute increments. Start there. Warm up for 30 seconds with some light stretching or running in place. Then jog in place for four minutes. You don’t even have to stand up. Use a chair. Jog while sitting in your chair for four minutes.
If four minutes sounds like too much time, give yourself 30 seconds to warm-up, and then do one fast minute of jogging in your chair. Go as fast as you can for one minute. You can work your way up to 10 minutes of high aerobic exercise just sitting in your chair.
2. "I don't feel like it."
To overcome a lack of motivation, you have to know your “why.” What is your deeper reason for exercising? To get fit? To be around for your grandchildren’s weddings? To see the birth of your great grandchildren?
(MORE: Great Ways to Lose Weight Without Really Trying)
Play the dream game and ask, “What if?” Imagine yourself as healthy and as fit as you can be. What do you look like, feel like, think like? What could you do? Think about your own barriers. What’s keeping you from being as healthy and fit as you can be? Write this out on your Fit Card. Then take baby steps to access your motivation — a minute at a time.
3. "I can't."
People are more apt to tackle things they think they can achieve, so Foy suggests starting off with one minute of exercise and revisiting that same exercise every hour or every other hour. Set a clock so you’ll remember to stand up and move for one to two minutes. Try chair squats. Stand up from your chair and then sit back down. By the end of the day, you could have done 50 squats. This will prove to yourself that you can do it.
4. "I'm tired."
If you are too tired at the end of the day, that’s probably because you haven’t been moving. “Get moving,” says Foy. Easy, light movements throughout the day will make a difference in how you feel. Your best bet, says Foy, is to begin the day with a little exercise, even if just a walk around the block. If you don’t want to walk alone, get a dog. Dogs need to go for walks outside.
5. "I'm too old."
No, you’re not. Foy says to read the books Biomarkers or Strong Women Stay Young to learn otherwise. You can’t dispel research which shows that exercise keeps you young by helping to increase muscle mass, improve heart health and more. Plus, our bodies are able to gain strength quickly. You’re never too old, he says. Just focus on light resistance if you’re worried about that. He says you’d be amazed at what people can do in just 10 minutes over time. A 65-year-old client of his became a power lifter, and he says his 85-year-old mother can do all of the Burst! exercises.
6. "It's too expensive."
Again, no. It doesn’t cost anything to take a walk. And some equipment that you can use at home costs under $10. You can get resistance bands for $6, says the Orange County, Calif., trainer. Start stretching your hamstrings with those by following these exercises.
(MORE: DIY Personal Training: Your Money-Saving Guide)
7. "I don't like it."
You don’t have to like exercise to do it. But to help you overcome this hurdle, it’s best to exercise with others. “Get a buddy to do it with you,” says Foy. Then the two of you can argue about how much you hate exercising while you’re leaning against the wall to squat or sitting on chairs doing side bends. To make exercise more fun, try it with your grandkids and watch them giggle as you engage in a friendly competition of Jumping Jacks. Count how many you can do in 30 seconds.
8. "I can't get back on track."
It’s not uncommon to feel like giving up when setbacks occur and you find yourself not able to do as much as you were doing before. “You don’t have to be perfect to be fit,” Foy says. “Give yourself that grace, that forgiveness” because this is the time when having a buddy helps the most. For check-ins, goal-planning or competitive events, your workout buddy is someone you can use to help hold you accountable, especially when you experience a setback of some sort. No matter if your buddy is a human or a pet, it’s harder to skip out on a friend than it is yourself. A buddy is “your secret sauce,” he says.
If none of this works, Foy says, “Begin with deep breathing and stretching. Work your way up to something else. Over time, pay attention to how your body feels. You should notice that you feel better. Focus on that.”