We all know that staying physically active is key for weight management, cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of chronic disease, improving energy, and numerous other health benefits. While we may be aware of these benefits, we still make up countless excuses as to why we cannot engage in physical activity (I am definitely guilty of this too!). I hope that after reading this blog, you may find the motivation you need to get off the couch and get moving!
First off, there may be confusion surrounding the difference between physical activity and exercise. Physical activity is defined as “bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. Exercise is a subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and purposeful in the sense that the improvement or maintenance of one or more components of physical fitness is the objective1.”
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSPE) recommends 150 minutes per week of aerobic physical activity, of moderate to vigorous intensity2. Physical activity can include any exercise, walking, sports, house chores, recreational activities, working, playing, etc.
Common excuses and how to overcome them:
Lack of time:
- Break activity down into 10-minute bouts. Go for a 10-minute walk after dinner, park 10 minutes away from your building, stretch for 10 minutes during your lunch break.
- Multitask: do some jumping jacks while watching TV, march on the spot while on a business call, or squat while dinner is cooking.
- Schedule an appointment into your day. You wouldn’t miss an important business meeting, so why would you miss an important activity break?!
- Use the outdoors as your gym: go for a walk, hike, bike ride, play sports, swim, throw a Frisbee, rollerblade, kayak; the possibilities are endless. Take advantage of community parks, conservation areas, and outdoor courts.
- Try different YouTube fitness videos. There are thousands of videos that feature personal trainers, leading you through various exercises. Whether you are just starting a new fitness regime or are experienced but need inspiration, there is a video for you! These often require no equipment and can be done at home.
- Many fitness studios and gyms are always offering promotions, especially for first time members. This is a great way to try out a new type of physical activity and see if it’s right for you.
Lack of motivation:
- Grab a workout buddy! Being physically active is way more fun when you have a friend to sweat it out with. Plus, you’ll be less tempted to cancel.
- Choose activities that you enjoy. It is much easier to stick to an exercise regime that is fun and realistic for your fitness level.
- Set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) goals and start small. It is easier to commit to going for a 10-minute walk each day, than starting with an hour of running.
Registered Dietitians can help you achieve your fitness goals by ensuring that you get adequate nutrients required to fuel your workouts and replenish body stores.
Feel better about yourself by adding physical activity into your daily routine! You will soon see the benefits and continue to get stronger, fitter, and healthier. “I really regret that workout”- said no one ever.
1Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. World Health Organization. 2016. http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/pa/en/
2 Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. CSEP. Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. 2016. http://www.csep.ca/guidelines